Memories of a Caddy

We were contacted by Jerry C. who visited this web site and noticed a paragraph speculating on whether or not Bob Hope had played at El Rio. It was concluded that he probably did, but it was not confirmed. Jerry confirmed it:

I herby confirm that Bob Hope did play at El Rio Golf course! I was a caddy there from 1951 to 1955. Bob Hope played there during a 'Clinic' (were called in those days) for some kind of 'charity'. We caddies mixed in with the throng of people following Bob Hope. He played nine holes. I remember vividly the 'birdie' he made on the 8th par 3 hole, a 200+ [yard] hole...placed the ball for tap-in 2. Another unforgettable scene was when upon leaving from a circular driveway in front of the club-house, the area was cordoned off a few yards from his awaiting chauffered car. He sat in the back; that's when I was dared by other caddies to force my way past the cordone and run up to the car and glare at him up against the glass window with both my hands forming a goggle-like view. Bob Hope directed two nervous glances at me, did not smile...I was quickly escorted away by two golf 'marchals' back behind the cordone with the rest of the people. I don't remember the exact year...early 50's. There was no tournament going on either... only a clinic which these celebraties would come to raise money for different charties. I used to live across the street from El Rio golf course on West Speedway. All that was on the 'other' side of the tracks, a barrio, sort of a ghetto-like; however, Babe Zaharias was wrong about the claim of "there are number of sh't houses facing every 'fairway', only number 2 had that particular sight, and partially number 4 if any; I take umbrage for that was my 'hood' called 'Hollywood'! P.S. if posted in the newspaper, I know some of my co-caddies would verify what I just confirmed!

I then responded and asked if he had any other memories from El Rio in the 1950s and if he attended any of the Tucson Opens played there. I also asked about the barbed wire fence reported to have lined the right side of the 18th hole and whether there was a driving range there at the time. Here's his response:

As mentioned before I caddied at El Rio from 1950 to 1955. I caddied in all the PGA-tourrnements held there. I left Tucson in 1955 when I joined the US Air Force. After discharged I brought my wife to Tucson to live for 4 years. I took her to El Rio golf course and to show where I used to caddy and go to El Rio Elementary school; the principal was Mr. Manzo. Now the school is named after him. Now to the question: Was there a driving range on the side of the 18th hole. Yes, there was. Allow me to put it in perspective. In those days, if one were to stand at the 18th hole tee you would see a 'dog' leg to the right. To the left of tee you'd see the 17th hole 'green', the 14th hole tee, and beyond it the 13th hole, and beyond you'd see a barbed wire perimeter which ran straight all the way to the 12th hole tee. Following the fence south and rounding the 18th hole tee and separating it from Speedway Blvd., the fence would continue to round the18th tee 5 or 10 yards from it and proceed 15 yards, now going on northeastern direction until the fairway started to 'dog-leg' to the right, now you are confronted with a row of tall slender trees which indicated the right side 'out of bounds' and would diminish in height, contour, and different types of brush e.g. oleander and the like. The long ball hitters would attempt to by-pass the dog-leg and drive over the tall trees on right and place themselves with an intermediate iron-club approach to the 'green' in a good position for an 'eagle'. T his is what Jimmy Demaret tried to do the day he scored the infamous 14! He just became stubborn; his first 5 drives were high enough to clear the trees; however, the well-hit balls started to 'slice' ever so slightly; finally he got over the trees and scored a birdie +10. Now my point is that golf balls hit 'out-bounds by anyone on that hole would not endanger any caddy who might be 'shagging' balls for any golfer practicing on the driving range which was located on the 'right' side of the 18th fairway which in turn make it on the 'left' side of the 18th hole if one is facing the 18th fairway which I presume is what you meant to say; because to the right of the 18th hole, you have the quasi convergence of 6th hole green, the 7th hole tee, and the 9th hole green. Some what to the right of the driving range was where the swimming pool was located within a cyclone fence within a 6ft. masonry wall painted white. Every Monday early in the morning, the pool was emptied and cleaned; we caddies were allowed to go swimming in the weekly-used water while the pool was being drained; that meant being there at 6 o'clock A. M. when the draining commenced! Then, EUREKA! we were allowed to play golf (gratis), of course having to zigzag between the water sprinklers! Y ou may have already asked yourself, "Why is this character, yours truly, revealing so much of his teenage years with respect to a simple question: '''was there a driving range there in the 1950's?''' I'm really testing 50 years of reminisces or remembrances of things past. Thank you for lending me your ear! P. S. I have some stories concerning Joe Louis, Tommy Bolt. Walter Berkemo and et. al. Jerry C..