How to create your own backyard miniature golf course


With summer starting next week, Southern Californians are looking forward to some outdoor recreation. One of my favorite fun-in-the-sun activities is golf, although I admit I’m much better at the driving range than on an actual course. OK, who am I kidding? I’m not very good at the driving range either. But miniature golf? That’s my sweet spot.

If, like me, you don’t get to the miniature course very often, there’s a fun solution: build a miniature golf course in your own backyard. With a little ingenuity, you can turn ordinary household items into miniature golf elements and obstacles. The game is a perfect activity for summer gatherings, and people of all ages enjoy it. So follow these suggestions, and you can be master of the (miniature) links.

Golf clubs

Although you can use actual putters, you might want to fashion alternative clubs so there can be one for everyone. Try PVC pipe, broom handles or even pool noodles. You really just need a long stick to make contact with the ball.

Golf balls

Real golf balls are fine to use, but they are heavy, so test your makeshift golf club to make sure it is strong enough to move the ball. If not, try lightweight alternatives, such as pingpong or Wiffle balls.

Marker flags

You will want to create flags that mark each of your holes so players will know how the course is laid out. Write the hole numbers on pieces of paper and glue them to long wooden skewers. Then insert the skewers in the grass.

Castle element

One of the most iconic miniature golf elements is a castle, usually with a door or drawbridge that goes up and down. Make your own castle using empty cereal boxes, cut to include castle features, like battlements. Fill the boxes with rocks so they won’t tip over, and paint them or cover them with duct tape. Be sure to cut a hole at the bottom for a doorway that the golf ball will pass through.

Windmill

It’s just not a miniature golf course without a windmill. Glue two rulers perpendicular to each other for the windmill blades, and glue the blades to a small clay pot that has been turned upside down. Then place the clay pot on an upside-down plastic bucket that has a hole cut out at the bottom for the ball to enter.

Tunnels

Create several elements that your ball will have to travel through. Old mailing tubes and tin cans that have been painted or wrapped in paper make stylish tunnels. You can also assemble books that are standing up like tents to form a maze for the ball.

Obstacles

Give the players a challenge by adding a sand trap. Fill an aluminum baking pan or cookie sheet with sand, and place a “bridge” made of stiff poster board above the sand. You can also create a lake for balls to land in by filling the baking pan with water instead of sand.

Last hole

Treat your last hole like a finish line. Use string to tie a piece of paper between two bottles of soda. When the golf ball goes between the bottles, the paper gate swings open to signify that the player has finished the round — which means it’s time for a refreshing drink.


Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.

Guide dog helps champion blind golfer stay the course


Zohar Sharon can count on having the company of two others when he takes to the golf course — his caddy and his guide dog.

“She is always there for me,” he said of Venus, a yellow Labrador/golden retriever cross. “She comes with me to play golf every day. She’s simply great.”

That’s important because Sharon, 60, is the world’s reigning champion in blind golf.

A veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, Sharon lost his sight over time following an incident more than 30 years ago that occurred while he was protecting Israel’s nuclear reactor in the Negev. 

Today, Sharon holds four world championships, dating back to 2003, when he entered his first professional tournament, and is considered a celebrity in Israel. (He’s been asked for his autograph in the United States as well, but that was a case of mistaken identity. His “fans” thought he was singer Harry Belafonte; Sharon signed anyway.)

But things didn’t always look like they would end up this way. Sharon sustained more injuries fighting in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and was completely blind by the time he turned 28. He took up painting at one point, but the resident of Moshav Aviel, who has been married three times, said he owes his current career as a golfer to his second divorce. 

 “I went to meet with my ex-wife’s attorney. Her attorney and I became great buddies. He asked me if I’ve ever played golf. I told him I didn’t, and he took a shoe box and punched a hole in it, got a club and a ball and showed me how to golf right there,” Sharon recalled as he sat on the balcony of his Beverly Hilton Hotel room during a recent visit to Los Angeles. “Later, at home, I started practicing by placing an empty cup on the floor and a radio next to it, so I’d know which direction to hit the ball, and I got the hang of it.”

Still, he almost gave up golf altogether before he met Shimshon Levy, who became his loyal caddie and close friend. 

“With Shimshon, I have a special connection. We spend 16 hours a day together, 10 of them on the golf field,” Sharon said. “Two years after I started practicing with him, I took my first championship, in [2003].” 

Together, the two have traveled the world, going from one tournament to the next. His first win was at the World Invitational blind golf tournament in Scotland.

“We are like a married couple but without the sex,” joked Sharon, who is the father of three and grandfather of two. “Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

Levy directs Sharon to the position of the ball and its distance from the hole; he also gives a sense of whether the ball needs to be hit strongly or softly, according to the specially designed golf club he selects.

Caddy Shimshon Levy, blind golfer Zohar Sharon and guide dog Venus hit the links.

The two arrived in Los Angeles in October for several events on behalf of the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind (israelguidedog.org). That’s where Sharon’s 5-year-old dog was trained. 

The center was founded in January 1991 to help blind people in Israel get a guide dog that would not only help them get around, but would also serve as their companion and connection to the world around them. 

“By having a dog with them, they are more approachable. People come over to them to pat their dog, instead of moving out of the way when they walk down the street with a stick,” said executive director Michael J. Leventhal of Warrington, Pa., who accompanied Sharon during his L.A. visit.

The center, which is located 20 minutes south of Tel Aviv, spends $40,000 on training and facilities for each of its guide dogs. It receives 8 percent of its funds from the Israeli government, but most of its funds come from donations, Leventhal said.

“Since 1991, we have partnered 468 dogs with blind people, both civilians and soldiers,” he said. “The blind don’t have to pay a dime. We train the dogs for two years; when [the dogs] are ready, the blind people move in with us at the center for three weeks, where we work with them and the dog. We continue working with them at their hometown for an additional week, teaching them how to go to the grocery store, get on the bus with their dog and so on.”

The dogs work with their blind partners for eight years, at which point they retire and are replaced by a new guide dog. 

After retiring, the guide dog can stay at the home as a pet, go to a family member of the blind person or go back to the original puppy raiser. Or a suitable home can be found by the center, which has a long list of potential adopters, Leventhal said.

Lisa Korbatov of Beverly Hills hosted a Shabbat dinner and meet-and-greet for Sharon during his October visit. She said that she came away impressed by the guide dog organization and the golfer.

“To live in darkness is a huge, huge trauma and burden to not only the blind person but the whole family,” she said. “Zohar was inspiring. When he talked about Venus, his whole face changed … huge smiles ear to ear.”

Sharon, who calls Venus his best friend, said it could have been easy for him to get depressed — or rather, stay depressed — about his disability. He still remembers the day when his then-6-year-old daughter came home crying about how her classmates were walking around like blind people, mocking her father.

“I decided right there and then that I’ll never give her any reason to be ashamed of me just because I’m blind. I’ll go to the extreme in anything I’ll do and be the best I can so she’ll be proud,” he said.

“I’m a fighter, and I never run away from anything. I don’t believe that God has to help me, but that I need to help God help me,” Sharon said. “I never give up. When people ask me what’s the secret of my success, that’s what I tell them — you can’t make excuses, nobody cares why you lost, why you were not able to accomplish something. The results speak for themselves. If you set your mind to do something, do it, without any excuses. It’s true for golf, and it’s true for anything else in life, whatever it may be.”

Golfing for good


Ethan Davidson estimates that he was only 5 or 6 when he heard the comparisons to Tiger Woods. 

“I was shocked,” he said. “I didn’t know I’d be that good, and I didn’t know I could pursue [golf] because I didn’t know I was that good. I thought I was just the average player.”

He’s 12 now, and the comparisons continue. Like Woods, Ethan excelled early and won often, his trophies no longer fitting the space in his Woodland Hills bedroom, where his medals hang from the curtain rod. His mother, Arlene, promised a bookshelf as a gift following his Aug. 24 bar mitzvah at Temple Judea in Tarzana to help add display space.

But while Woods waited until he was about 21 to start giving back by starting the Tiger Woods Foundation, Ethan is doing it now. As part of his mitzvah project, he is mentoring kids through the Ventura County Golf & Life Skills program, and he held a May fundraiser that netted $9,000 for underprivileged would-be golfers.

Together, these community and philanthropic efforts helped Ethan earn the Peggy Kirk Bell Award from U.S. Kids Golf. Bell, now 91, is known for teaching and advocating women’s golf.

“He’s been given a gift, but his ability to share it with the less fortunate makes me even more proud,” Ethan’s mother said.

His father, Gary, played golf collegiately at Santa Barbara City College. Ethan first picked up a set of plastic clubs his dad got him when he was 18 months old, and Arlene said she was shocked at what she saw.

“Most kids can’t make contact with the ball, and he was hitting and he was loving it,” she said. “And he hasn’t stopped.”

By the time he was 3, Arlene knew her son was hooked, so he started lessons at Braemar Country Club in Tarzana. At 5 1/2, a Braemar pro told her that Ethan was too good and should start playing in tournaments.

The victories have piled up, mostly in the last two years. He won the U.S. Kids Golf Los Angeles spring tour, which qualified him for the World Championship at Pinehurst, N.C., in August.

When the time came to pick a mitzvah project, Ethan’s mother suggested he do something for City of Hope, as his sister, Morgan, had done in 2010.


Ethan Davidson at 18 months

“He said, ‘No. I want to do something with golf,’ ” Arlene recalled. 

It was Ethan’s coach who recommended Ventura County Golf & Life Skills’ Training on Wheels program, through which he mentors underprivileged junior golfers. 

It was during these weekly sessions beginning in April at River Ridge Golf Club in Oxnard that Ethan decided he wanted to sponsor a child. He selected Dylan Gruber of Port Hueneme because Ethan thought the little boy had potential, just as he had. Although Dylan didn’t need financial support, the two did develop a mentoring relationship.

Dylan, 7, also had a similar backstory in that his parents were regular golfers and took their only child with them. Dylan’s father, Mark, said they could tell at the driving range that the boy possessed something special, and Ethan’s support helps Dylan explore his gift.

“Ethan’s interest in Dylan inspired Dylan to be more interested in golf,” Mark said.

Ethan hopes to caddy for Dylan one day, though their schedules haven’t worked out yet.

But Ethan’s endeavors go beyond one child. He’s collected used clubs and golf bags for underserved youths, and in May he organized a 100-hole, daylong golf marathon that netted $9,000, which will fund the 2013-2014 golf programs for 150 kids at Ventura County Golf & Life Skills.

The project is a perfect reflection of Ethan’s passion. He said he devotes 25 to 30 hours a week to golf, helped by the putting green and chipping area in the front yard of the family’s home. He has progressed through the Golf Academy of Ventura County’s advanced player program for junior golfers, and his physical education classes at A.E. Wright Middle School in Calabasas this year are an independent study at Rustic Canyon Golf Course in Moorpark.

Besides his trophies and medals, Ethan’s room is filled with golf paraphernalia — everything from a signed caddy bib from 2010 PGA Rookie of the Year Rickie Fowler to a poster of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament each spring. The family dog is named Mickelson (after golfer Phil Mickelson), and there’s a sign in his room that reads: “Eat. Sleep. Golf.” 

Ethan’s favorite part of golf — a sport in which he hopes to one day go pro — is driving. “You get to hit the ball as hard as you can,” he said of his 230-yard tee shots.

But his coach, PGA pro and Ventura County Golf & Life Skills President Dan Martin, is impressed with something else as well.

“Even though he is just 12 years old,” Martin wrote in a letter of recommendation, “Ethan knows the importance of giving back to the game of golf.”

Four-wheel drive


From a distance, Sam Geta looks as if he is standing upright in an Elvis Presley-esque knock-kneed stance. He hits his approach shot and cheers triumphantly as his ball finds the edge of the green. He replaces the club in his golf bag, then lifts his legs one at a time back onto the accessible golf cart.

Geta is a paraplegic.

On July 26, 1990, the then-34-year-old Geta rode his motorcycle to work when his car was in a shop for repairs. The real estate agent was on his way to a listing appointment in Tarzana when a car making a left turn hit him.

Geta woke up as he was being loaded into the ambulance. He touched his legs and realized he was paralyzed, the very day President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act into law.

The aspiring golfer, who had taken up the game just two-and-a-half years prior and was considering a run at the PGA Champions Tour when he turned 50, thought he would never play again.

“All through rehab, the recreational therapists were trying to get me to read about wheelchair athletes,” Geta said of his six-month stay at Northridge Hospital. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. That’s what most people like this go through. ‘I’m not one of them.’ ”

He came around when Jack Williams, a veteran amputee for whom an annual golf tournament in Irvine is named, visited the hospital.

“He let everybody know that they could still play golf, even sitting down,” Geta said.

By then, a company called Golf Xpress had come out with accessible golf carts designed to distribute the weight of the cart and its rider equally so as not to cause damage to the green any more than a 250-pound player would.

But it took another seven years before Geta had regular access to an accessible cart.

According to mobilitygolf.com, an advocacy site that lists accessible golf courses and instruction, there are now 66 accessible courses statewide, including Santa Barbara Golf Club, Los Robles Greens Golf Course in Thousand Oaks and Woodley Lakes Golf Course in Van Nuys, where Geta, now 55, plays every week.

With encouragement from a former Fairfax High School classmate, Geta began playing golf again.

“We played a number of times, and he became very excited about the whole prospect of playing golf,” said Mark Tuna, who reunited with Geta after 25 years. “From my perspective, it added a whole new aspect to his life. He seemed to be more upbeat about being independent. It was quite uplifting.”

Geta learned to ignore the surprised stares and became so comfortable playing alongside able-bodied golfers that he joined the Woodley Lakes Men’s Golf Club and began competing in monthly tournaments. He became the first nonambulatory golfer to play at a PGA event, the Buick Invitational Pro-Am in 2007. Upon learning that Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego had an accessible cart, he wrote tournament director Tom Wilson, who invited him to use the cart to compete in the tournament.

In April 2008, he came across a story about Zohar Sharon, a blind Israeli international golf champion who plays with the help of his caddy. Sharon had been blinded in a chemical accident while on weapons detail in the Israel Defense Forces.

“Before I even finished reading, my brain was already imagining the two of us playing together,” said Geta, who was born in Netanya, Israel.

He contacted the Israel Golf Federation, wanting to help raise golf awareness in Israel in general but especially for the disabled, and got himself an invitation to play in the Sister Club Tournament at the Israel Open in October 2009.

Geta borrowed against the equity in his house to help pay for his trip; family members solicited donations, including El Al air miles, to help Geta — and an accessible cart he bought — get to Israel.

Geta and Sharon triumphed over their able-bodied opponents, stunning the Israeli public and the international golf world. The story on the news that night began, “Here now is a story that is simply hard to comprehend. A paralyzed man who must use a wheelchair to get around and a completely blind man decide to pair up and play in a golf tournament. They beat the whole field of able-bodied golfers to win the tournament. That happened this week in Israel.” Geta and Sharon repeated the feat the following year.

The station was flooded with calls from disabled people interested in playing golf, and so, before returning to the United States, Geta put on a golf clinic.

Meir Haion, who lost a leg after stepping on a land mine in 1984, was one of Geta’s eager students at the clinic.

“I had a love for the game since I was very young,” Haion said. It took him 25 years to get back onto the golf course. “Sam gave me another opportunity in life. Golf is my spiritual treatment.”

For Geta, the experience was a spiritual awakening.

“Finally, after 19 years, I understood what Hashem’s plan was for me,” he said. “I understood why I got hurt. Those guys in front of me were my dream becoming reality.”

Golfer sues course, claims religious discrimination


As the PGA Northern Trust Open gets under way at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, golfer Wade Morris finds himself on the sideline, a victim of what he says is religious discrimination.

Morris has filed suit against Angeles National Golf Club in Sunland, alleging that the club prevented him from playing in a Feb. 9 tournament there — which could have qualified him to play this weekend — because of his religion. Morris once worked as a driving range instructor at Angeles National and said he knew the course well.

“I’m very disgusted,” Morris said. “I know I should be out there. … I was practicing on the course. I know it like the back of my hand.”

Not being able to participate in the qualifying tournament was only the last of many encounters with Angeles National that finally caused Morris to file suit, alleging wrongful termination.

In his lawsuit, Morris alleges he was paid $2,000 per month but was required to work a minimum of 12 hours a day, six days a week, often without breaks. Morris claims he was fired after complaining that he was not being paid fairly, and was not allowed to take breaks. Before being terminated, he had also complained that he was not being allowed to have time off to attend synagogue (he worships at Em Habanim Sephardic Congregation in North Hollywood) or to attend High Holy Days services. Morris said he had also complained previously about the sexist way the female employees at the golf course were being treated.

Four former employees filed suits against Angeles National Golf Course in June 2010, alleging that the course harbored an environment of sexual and racial harassment, discrimination, and frequently required employees to work overtime without compensation.

Morris’ lawyer, Ann Hull, said Morris filed a discrimination complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which caused Angeles National to kick him off the course and permanently banned him, allegedly for smoking.

In a Feb.11 statement, Angeles National spokesman Eric W. Rose said the club considers the lawsuits “meritless” and “an unconscionable and irresponsible abuse of the legal system by disgruntled former employees.”

The statement went on to say that Morris is not allowed to play at the course because of his lawsuit and because he violated club policies on smoking and discarding butts.

This wasn’t the first time Morris had attempted to qualify for the Northern Trust Open at Angeles National. He tried last year, too, and was escorted off the premises while trying to play a practice round, Hull said.

This year, taking no chances, he contacted the PGA months ago and spoke to Rob Keller, tournament director for the Southern California PGA. Morris said Keller told him that since the PGA was in control of this event, he would be welcomed to participate.

Two days before the event, Morris said, Keller called him again and told him that Angeles National attorneys said Morris would be guilty of trespassing if he was to appear that day. Angeles National is a public golf course.

Keller could not be reached for comment.

Morris said Keller gave him entry into another qualifying tournament at Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills. Morris shot 80 and failed to qualify.

Hull said Morris’ complaint is scheduled to be heard in Los Angeles Superior Court in September along with those of other former Angeles National employees. She said Morris seeks damages but will leave it to the jury to decide the amount.

Meanwhile, Morris continues to hone his game and plans to play tournaments on the Golden State Golf Tour.

Baja community begins where the land ends


Waves rush over a pebbled beach as the tensions of city life melt away. The Mexican sun hangs languidly overhead, bleaching colorful kayaks stacked along the shoreline. Hovering far off in the deep blue skies, parasailors are dwarfed by the arriving Carnival cruise ship that will soon drop anchor off the rocky coast.
 
It’s easy to understand why celebrities like John Wayne, Desi Arnaz and Bing Crosby were drawn here — yet kept it a secret for nearly 20 years after the 1956 opening of The Palmilla, the area’s first resort catering to sportfishing enthusiasts.
 
Located at the tip of Baja California, Cabo San Lucas is at the western end of what has become a 20-mile corridor of hotels and gated communities known collectively as Los Cabos, bookended in the east by the airport-adjacent town of San José del Cabo. The tiny fishing village has given way to beaches lined with luxury hotels and a notorious nightlife, but the laid-back seaside attitude still hangs in region’s salty air.
 
World-class golf courses, sportfishing, scuba diving, horseback riding, hiking and desert tours are all popular draws, as Cabo enjoys 350 days of sun annually. From December to April, gray whales migrate here to calve their young, and this year’s addition of the Cabo Dolphins center to the Cabo San Lucas marina adds the opportunity for visitors to swim with Pacific bottlenose dolphins (reservations are required).
 
Since tourism continues to boom here, drawing upward of 1 million guests each year, construction projects are part of the backdrop along the corridor, much like the Vegas Strip.
 
Many of the 100,000 permanent residents are retirees from north of the border, so this decidedly Mexican resort destination has an increasingly American sensibility. A plethora of U.S. retail chains and restaurants — including Johnny Rockets and Hard Rock Cafe — have set up shop in area malls and shopping centers, and even lox is now readily available at the local Costco.
 
Once the secret of Cabo was out, it seemed that there were few surprises left. But in the last year a very visible and increasingly vibrant Jewish community is taking shape where the land meets the sea.
 
While the exact number of Jews living here is not known, a communitywide Passover seder earlier this year at the Villa Del Palmar attracted more than 100 guests, and Shabbat services on the last weekend of each month routinely draws between 30 to 50 people to a donated third-floor space in the contemporary Puerto Paraiso shopping center.
 
Los Cabos is such a boomtown it has few natives. Jews attending community events hail from all over — America, Israel, Argentina, South Africa and other Mexican states. But the diversity has led to some communication problems.
 
“Israelis here don’t speak Spanish, and some Argentineans don’t speak English. So there’s no one language [that we have] in common,” said Rabbi Mendel Polichenco, who has conducted religious services in Cabo San Lucas over the last year. “When I give a dvar Torah, I don’t know what language to use. I do half English and half Spanish usually.”
 
Polichenco, director of Chula Vista-based Chabad Without Borders, says U.S., Israeli and Argentinean employees at Diamonds International have been spreading word about the religious services, as well as Adriana Kenlan, an English news broadcaster on Cabo Mil Radio.
 
But the person he credits with being at the forefront of Jewish organizing in Los Cabos is David Greenberg of Senor Greenberg’s Mexicatessen.
 
Greenberg, a 37-year-old L.A. native who grew up in the Conservative movement, came to Los Cabos in January 1992 to consider whether he would attend law school and never left. He knocked around in construction and restaurant management jobs and spent three years as a consular agent for the U.S. State Department. But after meeting Jim Sutter, the two became business partners and decided to open an upscale New York-style deli together in Cabo San Lucas. After getting pointers from Art Ginsburg of Art’s Deli in Studio City, the pair opened the first Senor Greenberg’s in the Plaza Nautica in October 1997, followed by a second location at Puerto Paraiso in September 2004.

“Next thing I know, I’ve got another restaurant, I’m married, I have a son,” said Greenberg, whose Mazatlan-born wife, Karla, converted through the University of Judaism.
 
As if his life wasn’t busy enough already with 11-month-old Joshua and a third Senor Greenberg’s scheduled to open this month in Plaza Gali near Cabo Dolphins, Greenberg is working hard to establish a Jewish presence in Cabo.
 
Real estate developer José Galicot, who is based out of San Diego and Tijuana, has provided the funds for Polichenco’s visits, he said. But that money was only intended as a stopgap and will dry up at the end of this year.
 
“It’s going to be up to us to see it through to 2007,” said Greenberg, who added that he expects developing a self-sufficient community here will be challenging.
 
Securing a permanent space at Puerto Paraiso for the Baja Jewish Community Center is the next step, he said. Hebrew classes, as well as Spanish lessons for Israelis, will be offered there, in addition to religious services. As far as future spiritual leadership, Greenberg hopes to track down a retired rabbi who would want to spend Jewish holidays in Cabo. And then there’s the matter of finding a Torah that would be stored at the center.
 
A Torah scroll already exists in Los Cabos, at the five-star Marquis Los Cabos, some 20 minutes east of Cabo San Lucas, where Mexico City-based proprietor Jose Kalach has set up a prayer room in his hotel, complete with a small ark. But the Torah is intended primarily for the Kalach family’s personal use. Hotel guests and wedding parties can use it, but a written request must be filed with the hotel at least one month prior. Since the sanctuary is attached to a conference room, scheduling conflicts can make availability less certain.
 
Opened in 2003, this Condé Nast gold list hotel was designed by Jewish Mexican architect Jacobo Micha, who modeled the hotel’s open-air arch entrance after El Arco, or the Arch of Poseidon, a famous 200-foot natural passageway at the tip of the Baja peninsula that travelers can walk through at low tide. Statues of winged angels stand at the ready in the hotel’s entrance and throughout the property (photo below).

A Hole In One for a Good Cause


The Gift of Culture

Bram Goldsmith, chair of City National Corporation, and his wife, Elaine, long-time supporter of the arts, donated $5 million to the future Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, with the result that a 500-seat theater will become the Goldsmith Theater.

Bram Goldsmith has been chairman of the center’s foundation since its inception and a driving force for the center, located in the historic Beverly Hills Post Office at Crescent Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard.

“We are delighted to help create a magnificent theater and performing arts center which will enhance the worldwide renown of Beverly Hills,” Goldsmith said. ” It will give our residents and the residents of Los Angeles the opportunity to concurrently dine and shop in Beverly Hills and enjoy fine theatre in our community.”

Designed by the Performing Arts Center’s award-winning architect, Zoltan Pali of SPF: architects, the Goldsmith Theater will incorporate 500 seats in an elegant and intimate contemporary venue. Featuring state-of-the-art adaptable acoustics, lighting and stage equipment, it will present theater, dance, music, opera and professional children’s theater.

Beverly Hills Mayor Steve Webb praised the couple for their generosity saying, “Elaine and Bram Goldsmith are unquestionably one of L.A.’s most dedicated and philanthropic couples. We are especially proud that they call Beverly Hills home.”

Goldsmith has served as president of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles; chaired the Los Angeles United Jewish Fund Campaign and the United Jewish Appeal; and has served on the boards of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, The National Conference of Christians and Jews, the United Way and the Weizmann Institute of Science. Elaine Goldsmith is a long-time member of the Board of Governors of Otis College of Art and Design and former Chairman. She has also served on the Los Angeles Art Museum Council as well as the United Jewish Welfare Fund.

Music in the Air

The Ford Amphitheatre was packed July 9 when the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJS) presented an evening of Israeli composers. The crowd noshed on picnic goodies and soaked in the starry evening as Israel’s Consul General Ehud Danoch welcomed the crowd from the stage prior to the performance. Hannah Drew, daughter of LAJS Founder/Conductor Noreen Green and her husband, Ian Drew, led the singing of “Hatikvah.” Also in attendance was Israeli composer Hadas Goldschmidt-Halfon, whose “Knock on Wood” concerto for marimba, percussion and chamber orchestra had its North American premiere that evening. The piece was written for Chen Zimbalista, whose performance brought down the house. Israeli French horn soloist Alon Reuven also performed.

Sounds of Salsa

On July 20, Vista Del Mar’s Presidents Club hosted a “Salsa Under the Stars” networking cocktail reception complete with salsa dancing, sizzling Latin rhythms and an opportunity to learn how to positively impact the lives of Vista’s troubled children.

Members of the Presidents Club have the opportunity to spend quality time with the children of Vista Del Mar’s Residential Treatment program through monthly sporting events and dinners. Monies raised allow the Presidents Club to sponsor activities, special outings, exposure to vocational and career opportunities, and funding for scholarships.

Founded nearly a century ago in Los Angeles, Vista Del Mar has been providing residential and community-based mental health services to more than 5,500 troubled children annually. For more information, call (310) 836-1223 ext. 238.

5766


A foursome was tramping the fairway toward the seventh hole at Hillcrest Country Club last Saturday when two coyotes appeared from out of the shrubs. The golfers were close enough to see that one animal was female and the other clearly male. That’s how close they were.

Every creature froze: the men gripping their seven irons; the coyotes watching, waiting for someone to do something stupid.

The thing about this encounter is that Hillcrest is about as urban as courses get. The wildlife corridor of the Santa Monica Mountains comes to a screeching halt at Sunset, five miles and who knows how many stoplights, intersections, animal control officers and speeding cars north. To the south are more homes, Interstate 10, more sprawl.

Hillcrest is a mid-city oasis. Acres of grass and trees and lawn sprinklers, with all the squirrels a wild dog could eat and the occasional Arnold Palmer left out on the patio to sip from. But I couldn’t imagine how any wild animal without wings could get there.

It turns out that in 2004 there were 1,100 coyote sightings in metropolitan Los Angeles and 955 for the Valley. There were 12 sightings in Beverly Hills — up from four the year before — and several on the UCLA campus. Amazing how much ground a creature can cover when it’s not stuck in Westside traffic.

There are a lot of places you can go –metaphorically — with these coyotes.

“The Sopranos” on HBO has developed a leitmotif out of wild things coming in and out of mob boss Tony’s life: a bear on the back lawn, waterfowl in the pool, a talking sea bass on his boat. Animals bring out the humanity in Tony, like for when he beat a guy senseless for sitting on a poodle.

You could also remark on how fitting it is that among the movers and shakers at Hillcrest, there are not a few who would meet their match in this animal.

“It’s not enough to be clever,” a wealthy and successful friend of mine tells me. “You also have to be lucky.”

Mark Twain called coyotes, “the most friendless of God’s creatures,” but clever and lucky works just as well.

And that’s the metaphor I’m sticking with here, on the eve of the New Year.

We learned four years ago, on Sept. 11, that the world is not a safe place. But evidently one lesson was not enough for it to sink in. If Sept. 11 showed that life can change in an instant, this entire year demonstrated that life’s very essence is unpredictable, ever-changing, unknowable.

Hurricanes, floods, terror attacks, terror threats — all around us we witnessed the ever-present danger and uncertainty that for most people, through most of human history, has defined human existence. Here today, wiped out tomorrow.

It took awhile, but the realization seems to have taken hold.

“I suppose after Sept. 11 some were a little Pollyanna-ish,” Fifth District Councilman Jack Weiss told me. “That is, some seemed to believe we could deal with this problem and it would go away. Some also believed that it couldn’t happen here again.”

If the raw fear has ebbed, the feeling of invincibility, of safety, has never fully returned.

Every year since Sept. 11, the High Holidays have brought heightened security concerns and more elaborate precautions, but this year even more so. An LAPD closed-door security briefing for synagogues at ths Simon Wiesenthal Center organized by Weiss’ office was better attended than in past years, and the questions were more direct, more palpably fearful.

Never in history have Jews been as economically, culturally and politically free and powerful. Yet our places of worship feel more vulnerable as ever. We have the freedom of prayer — behind security cameras and armed guards.

And just when we believe we have the hatches battened against man-made terror, here come the natural disasters to remind us that man plans and God laughs.

“Who shall live and who shall die?” we read in the High Holiday liturgy. “Who by fire? Who by water?”

We needn’t be resigned to our fates — or the fates others might wish upon us — but we may want to step back and acknowledge, for once, just how much of life is not ours to control. We can only do our best to protect ourselves and fulfill our promise, knowing all the while the hour is late, the future is uncertain and the coyote is at the door.

Happy New Year.

 

Cruise Vacation Worth the Weight


Here’s a tip to non-Jewish travelers looking for a low-cost vacation cruise.

Pick your cruise dates to include the Jewish High Holidays in September or October, because then the ships offer their deepest discounts to fill the empty berths left by the noticeable absence of Jewish passengers.

On the other hand, Jewish vacationers might consider booking dates that include Passover or Chanukah when the ship’s chefs whip up elaborate — and strictly kosher — seder feasts or stir up batches of crisp potato latkes.

We gleaned this information during a gluttonous 11-day cruise in November aboard the $200 million Crystal Harmony. Our voyage started at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., stopped over at the Caribbean islands of St. John, St. Maarten/St. Martin, Antigua and Aruba, passed through the Panama Canal and terminated at the Costa Rican port of Caldera.

Hubert Buelacher, our ship’s food and beverage manager, recalled that two years ago, during another Caribbean cruise, his kitchen made latkes for 200 out of 900 passengers.

It is possible that some knowledgeable non-Jews might have tried to pass as members of the tribe to join the feasting. By way of illustration, we were tipped off that kosher chicken was a specialty of the house and we ordered a couple for ourselves and three other couples who were our traveling companions. The other couples, all old friends and none Jewish, gave the kosher chicken their highest rating.

Buelacher, a sturdy Austrian, conducted us through the separate kosher galley of the huge kitchen and proudly noted that he had become a kashrut maven while supervising Orthodox wedding banquets when he was working as a chef in France.

He reeled off his typical seder meal, consisting of chicken consommé with matzah balls, roasted chicken, carrots, green peas, almonds, roasted potatoes and kosher wine.

Any passenger, at any time, can order a kosher meal in advance, while some Orthodox groups have brought along their own mashgiach (kosher supervisor) said hotel director Herbert Doppler, another Austrian.

For cruises encompassing Passover or Chanukah, a full-time rabbi is on board the Crystal Harmony and the same goes for its sister ship, the Crystal Symphony.

On our November cruise, the ship’s bulletin called for volunteers to conduct Friday evening services, and Alan Iselin, an investment counselor from Albany, N.Y., led some 20 worshippers.

For the occasion, a small Torah and lectern were placed on the stage of the ship’s theater and a sidetable for yarmulkes and prayer books also offered challah, gefilte fish and kosher wine.

Admittedly, this report so far has been mainly about food, but as every cruise veteran knows, life on board ship is a freser’s (glutton’s) delight.

There were elaborate dinners, where the dress code alternated between formal, informal and casual, hefty breakfasts and lunches, specialty Japanese and Italian restaurants, and high teas and evening snacks in between.

The danger in all this, of course, is an expanded waistline, but there are remedies, consisting of a full-scale gym, a feng shui and aerobic spa, swimming pools, Jacuzzis and promenade decks for walking and jogging.

For the more dedicated, there is a golf driving range, a paddle tennis court — where we engaged in spirited matches — and for the really obsessed, a "personally developed cuisine program for the health conscious."

There are other opportunities to work off some fat in long walks and other physical activities during day-long shore excursions.

At a stop at St. Maarten, the Dutch-ruled part of the binational island, we were startled to pass a roadside restaurant proudly named Beth El and a large Star of David spouting from the roof.

We asked the black owner for an explanation and he responded, with considerable dignity, "I am a descendant of Abraham."

Crossing over to St. Martin, the French part of the island, we encountered another Star of David, this one atop an open market stand dubbed the Coconut House. We inquired again and were told, "Oh, it’s just for decoration."

A final chance to slim down before heading home came when our party decided to stay over a couple of days in Costa Rica and visit the Arenal National Park.

There, a four-hour hike through the dense rain forest to the foot of the active Arenal Volcano brought us almost back to our fighting weight.

Basketball and Life


"Be Quick — But Don’t Hurry: Finding Success in the Teachings

of a Lifetime" by Andrew Hill with John Wooden

(Simon & Schuster, $20)

Andrew Hill should be considered a very lucky man. The 50-year-old Los Angeles native played basketball at UCLA in the 1970s under the auspices of John Wooden, one of the school’s greatest coaches. Hill won three championship rings with UCLA but left the university with a chip on his shoulder and a deep misunderstanding of the coach who would later become his greatest mentor.

Hill went on to become president of productions at CBS and president of programming at the student-oriented Channel One Network, never fully conscious of the role that the coach’s teachings had played in his life.

One sunny day while facing down a 210-yard, 2-iron golf course, a friend told him to keep his balance, something that Wooden had always stressed. Hill, who described his experience on the golf course as an epiphany, wanted to reconnect with the man he had so deeply misunderstood in his youth.

Hill picked up the phone and tracked down Wooden. The coach embraced his former pupil as though he had been waiting for him all along.

The reunion went so well that Hill took to calling Wooden "coach" and was inspired to share Wooden’s teachings and philosophies with others in his new book, "Be Quick — But Don’t Hurry."

"Life is precious," Hill says. If you have an opportunity to "reach out to the older people in your life, [you should]."

"Be Quick" begins with a forward by Wooden outlining his "Pyramid to Success" based on his years of coaching — loyalty and friendship are two elements that form the foundation, while faith and patience sit at the zenith due to their deep moral value.

Hill outlines 21 secrets he’s learned from experiences with Wooden and explores how each relates to basketball and life.

Secret No. 9, titled "A Great Leader Cannot Worry About Being Liked," focuses on the very crux of Hill’s early contentions with Wooden.

Hill writes candidly about how Wooden was not well liked by his players and that Wooden expected his players not to like him. The coach’s focus was on the greater picture, winning national championships. He didn’t care about the feelings of the players who sat on the bench and whined or those who didn’t like the way Wooden talked to them.

According to Hill, Wooden had realized that "feelings get hurt and lives are disrupted, but the ability to make those tough choices is essential to being an effective leader."

If he had to pick one secret from his book to emphasize, Hill says, "focusing on effort, not winning" is the most important, because "we live in a society in which we always keep score."

A basis of Wooden’s teachings, according to Hill, is that the focus on the effort required to do something "frees you from the result." But Hill continues to struggle with aspects higher on Wooden’s pyramid, like patience.

Each of the 21 secrets helps elaborate and provide examples for Wooden’s philosophy, adding imagery and establishing connections between his concepts and the two men responsible for the book.

Hill says that you must buy into Wooden’s whole idea of the pyramid in order to achieve balance in your life, adding that if "you gave your best effort, you have succeeded."

Open Season


Those who see little distinction between religion and golf might be tempted to daven with their heads pointed northwest, toward Pebble Beach. But the Monterey Peninsula also has plenty of other great golf courses to make you pray for a great short game — and a reservation.

If you’re the kind of person who can network your way into front-row seats at a Knicks-Lakers game, you might want to attempt some string-pulling to play some of Monterey’s great private layouts. Although you’re more likely to garner a spot on the next space shuttle than to land a tee time at Cypress Point, some other local clubs should prove more accessible. At the very least, they’re still worth hearing about.

That’s especially true of the remarkable Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel Valley, where developers appear to have done everything right. The 20,000-acre property, which encompasses some of the most beautiful California landscape imaginable, will mostly be preserved in its natural state, with only 350 home sites of several to 65 acres being offered for sale at prices between $800,000-$4 million. My advice is to practice hard and raise the dollar amount of your next Nassau. The club will admit only 300 members, so you’ll want to act fast.

Those involved in Santa Lucia are quick to point out that the development is not a golf community: the secluded, ultra-private golf course is merely an amenity for homeowners — possibly the first time anyone’s referred to a Tom Fazio signature work in that way.

Originally routed and designed by local course architect Michael Poellet, developers brought Fazio in to create the greens and bunkering and to put his valuable (read: sales tool) name on a spacious, airy layout that meanders across a piece of land the likes of which may never become available in the region again. The golf course encompasses 350 acres — nearly three times the customary area. Holes wind past redwood forests, waterfalls, natural meadows full of wildflowers, and enough other lovely features to write your own Woody Guthrie song about. They blend wonderfully into the landscape and express subtleties rather than heroics — through swishing orientations, narrow fairways, a mere 50 bunkers, and charming if uneventful greens. Although creeks tinkle across the property, little water comes into play. The longest of four sets of tees will stretch to 7,067 eminently walkable yards, and the club will offer caddies to make that walk even more enjoyable.

A much different kind of development from Santa Lucia, Monterey’s new par-71 Pasadera Country Club, represents Jack Nicklaus’s only design on the peninsula. This extremely strong, well-crafted and accessible layout will be home to 395 members but also remain open to the public every Monday — a generosity that’s great for the game of golf. Nicklaus’s love of strategic nuance is evident course-wide in a risk-reward sort of way, but especially in the greens, which feature more tiers than a Julia Roberts movie. Native fescues will provide contrasts between fairways and, well, non-fairways in different seasons. Although the routing (originally plotted by Robert Muir Graves) is a bit quirky — and even includes two fairways that cross — the variety of holes will delight you as they ramble across 6,800 yards of canyons, sandstone formations, native oak groves and chaparral-covered hills. Bring your altimeter, because no fewer than six holes climb big-time — though whether you do so gradually or all at once is part of the strategic challenge. And remember what they say about what goes up.

To move things along, Nicklaus designed the 505-yard par-five first hole with few hazards, but do not fear — plenty more appear later, especially in the form of sculpted bunkers. Slim landing areas add to the drama, particularly at the stupendous 14th hole, 212 yards, all carry, across a huge ravine to a green that hangs atop a precipice. Never known to be short of words, Nicklaus was apparently speechless when he first laid eyes on this part of the property, then finally just muttered, “Wow.” The other par threes are also memorable.

If you prefer well-aged golf layouts to those just out of the package, one of the best sites in America is occupied by the tony old Monterey Peninsula Country Club, tucked between Cypress Point and Spanish Bay. But these days, even the old is new; Rees Jones recently made over Seth Raynor’s 1926 Dunes Course. Regrettably, Raynor died during construction of the Dunes and never really finished designing it. Seventy-five years later, Jones has completed the job in fabulous style, mostly by adding moundings that sharpen course lines and working hard around the greens, which formerly failed to meet USGA specs. Members are calling the new, hidden tee box on the 14th hole “Rees’ Surprise.” Jones shifted the green here and created a new oceanside tee that requires a long carry over crashing surf, sea otters, lost penguins, daring ball hounds, mermaids and who knows what else.

MPCC’s Shore Course, built for $50,000 back in the 1950s, will soon be redone by Arnold Palmer and should join the Dunes as one of the most outstanding view courses anywhere. The club also owns a piece of oceanfront property that would sell for millions but currently serves as a shag-bag range for members and as a salad bar for a herd of very lucky deer.

Speaking of redesigns, 20 minutes north of Monterey, in Salinas, Coral de Tierra Country Club is about to emerge from a facelift by the skilled hand of the ubiquitous Michael Poellet. The original layout, designed by Bob Baldock Jr., dates to 1959, but Poellet’s renovation — particularly his skillful and sublime bunkering — will bring the course into the era of modern architecture. Poellet actually moved or rebuilt every bunker on the course, added a few new ones and built strategy into the sand complexes by creating doorways through which the greens are best approached. He also put in a lot of work around the greens. One of the outstanding new holes at this 6,600-yard track is number 13, a 492-yard downhill par five with a creek sneaking across the fairway at about 230 yards out. The seductive bunkering invites a heroic second shot to the green or intimidates you to lay up short to the left of the sand. Coral is friendly and unpretentious and offers a breezy round in a verdant bowl surrounded by steep, gorgeous hills. Locals posit that this was the location of Steinbeck’s famous “Pastures of Heaven.” Highly amicable and well-loved longtime pro Jerry Greenfield will go to any lengths to ensure his members’ happiness at Coral, even if it means accidentally maneuvering his new electronic caddie into a lake just for their amusement.

If you prefer to play your golf among the masses — or at least among those masses who can afford $100-$300 green fees — Monterey offers one of the best collections of high-end public/resort layouts anywhere.

We’ll save Pebble Beach Golf Links and the accompanying inn for some other century, when they actually need more press. But the Pebble Beach Company also owns two other stupendous golf courses and a pair of small lodgings that are to hotel rooms what Pebble is to grass-covered dunes.

For my money, The Links at Spanish Bay ranks right up there with the big PB for pure golfing perfection, though it lacks the powerful historic elements. How can you go wrong when Tom Watson, Sandy Tatum and Robert Trent Jones Jr. team up to insinuate a layout among some of the most beautiful linksland this side of Dornoch, but where the ocean’s still warm enough for surfing? As with the best British coastland courses, Spanish Bay invites you to hit normal shots (in this case “normal” may mean into a 40-knot wind), or keep the ball low and bump and roll it onto the greens. Virtually every hole at Spanish Bay involves a surprising journey, and even the shortest holes require laser accuracy. Such as number two, which may elicit nonchalance because of its mere 307-yard distance, but upon closer look will give you a good, sandy fright. Make sure to pick up a yardage guide before playing Spanish Bay; to have even a chance to score well, you’ll need to know what’s out there. Be forewarned that it includes pot bunkers, hummocks, double dog legs, and at least one green that has so many tiers it resembles Southwestern pueblo architecture.

The Inn at Spanish Bay is as warm and fine as the golf course is brisk and challenging. Rooms provide a cozy respite between ocean dunes and pine forests; all contain fireplaces, and the best view across the windswept landscape. Leave your windows open to hear the plaintive notes of the bagpiper who walks the links at dusk as if mourning every golf ball he ever lost. When the concert commences, head down to Roy Yamaguchi’s restaurant, where you might need Cliff’s Notes to get through the extensive Euro-Asian menu.

Just a short dune-buggy ride down the coast, Spyglass Hill Golf Course offers another dandy layout with a more accessible public feel. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1966 and a host course for the AT&T, Spyglass takes its name from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” All holes are named for characters in the book. The course features two distinctly different topographies that influence design. The first five holes (and the best five) gambol over dunes, ice plant and nefarious waste areas and call for supreme accuracy or a small shovel. The remaining thirteen holes route beautifully through pine groves and entice with lakes and elevated greens, but they may disappoint some players after their romp in the sand.
Spyglass is rated as one of the toughest golf courses in the world from the back tees (75.9 rating, slope of 148, 6,855 yards), and three holes (6, 8 and 16) rank among the most difficult on the PGA tour. The feloniously fast greens are only part of the challenge. I had such a rough day on the course that they might as well have come out from the pro shop and beat me with a stick.

Since Spyglass doesn’t offer lodging, why not head to Casa Palmero, the spanking-new 24-room inn along the first hole back at Pebble Beach? Designed for high-enders who treasure privacy, intimacy and relaxation (as opposed to those who prefer pressure and mayhem), the secluded Spanish-Mediterranean-style getaway is possibly the best small hotel in the United States. Advertised as being so intimate that most travelers will never know it exists, Casa Palmero puts a premium on unparalleled service. In addition to a spacious, luxurious room with amenities such as a wood-burning fireplace and a Bose wave radio, enjoy the use of the old homestead’s living room, dining room, library, billiard room, and private bar.

Twenty minutes inland from the golf theme park of Pebble Beach, in Carmel, lies four-star, four-diamond Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club, a homey, understated property with a golf course that would deserve marquee status anywhere else. The resort’s 100 rooms are spread across a parkland setting full of lakes and fountains surrounding a main lodge that houses the excellent Covey Restaurant (during my visit, quail was not on the menu), one of the best among many around Carmel and Monterey.

Quail’s golf course, 6,516 yards designed by Robert Muir Graves, also wends through willows, oaks, lakes, and meadows full of lupine and poppies. The course is charming and challenging in a quiet way and requires precise attention to play it well. Three par threes on the front side will hone your short game while back-to-back par fives on the second nine will help keep your fairway woods warm. Known as a particularly woman-friendly venue, Quail has hosted several championships, including the California Women’s Amateur and the USGA Senior Amateur. While not as grand and daunting as the more famous local links courses, Quail still soars.

So if you happen to miss the cut at the Open this year, you’ll be glad to know that the Monterey area’s other courses offer some top-notch consolation rounds.

Up Front


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attention: Jim Cameron

When my family gets together to talk about big sinking ships, the word Titanic never comes up. We remember the Volturno.

Eighteen months after the Titanic hit bottom, the Volturno set sail for America, carrying 657 bedraggled, desperate dreamers from Eastern Europe to the Golden Land. Among the passengers: five members of my family, including my Grandmother Bella.

On Thursday, Oct. 9, 1913, a week out of Amsterdam on its way to New York, a tremendous explosion rocked the Volturno. My family rushed to the top deck to see that the forward part of the ship was ablaze. An S.O.S. was sent out by wireless to nearby ships. And then everyone waited. Some passengers jumped overboard. Others were drowned while trying to escape on unstable lifeboats. My great-grandmother decided that her family would wait for the water to come to them. It was a fateful choice: As a result, theirs was the only family on board not to lose a member.

Ten rescue ships arrived on the scene, only to find the Volturno unapproachable due to a raging storm. The next morning, an oil ship arrived and pumped 50 tons of oil into the ocean, instantly calming the waters. Rescue operations began immediately, and within a few hours, all the survivors were taken to the various rescue ships. One hundred thirty-six passengers perished.

The Red Cross Emergency Relief Committee arranged with the Commissioner of Immigration to discharge the rigorous entry formalities. The Council of Jewish Women immediately met and cared for many of the passengers who only spoke Russian or Yiddish.

My great-aunt Sarah, 91, (left) was just 7 when the incident occurred. She recalled being lowered to the rescue boat while hanging onto a rope, and almost falling into the water before having her legs grabbed by someone and pulling her safely in. — Cary Ginell, Contributing Writer


 

 

 

Alexander Haig

‘Bush Blew It’

“Bush blew it in the 10th round.”

On his recent Los Angeles appearance at the Skirball Cultural Center, Gen. Alexander Haig pulled no punches as he blasted the Republican administration’s handling of the Gulf War. President Reagan’s first secretary of state was no less critical of the Clinton administration, stating bluntly, “I am disturbed by the current state of U.S./Israeli relations.”

Haig opened his lecture by quickly dispelling the notion circulating among many Jews (in light of some recently released audio tapes) that President Nixon was an anti-Semite. Of all the U.S. leaders he dealt with, Haig ranked Nixon — under whom he worked as chief of staff — as “perhaps Israel’s greatest friend.” In fact, it was Nixon, Haig claimed, who doubled assistance to Israel at the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, despite massive tensions among Nixon’s Cabinet and the Pentagon’s vehement efforts to block aid. He deemed Nixon’s decision as “particularly courageous,” considering the Watergate scandal unfolding at the time.

An audience member asked Haig how peace could be achieved when Yasser Arafat’s message to the American media and the Arab press has been two-faced. Haig, who earlier described the Palestinian Authority leader as an “inconsistent, erratic and negligent” character, responded, “When he’s in a corner, he’ll meet the needs of the moment.”

But the main topic of the hour was Israel, a country that he emphasized was America’s most crucial ally.

“When we are faithful to Israel, we are faithful to ourselves and our values.” — M.A.


 

 

Tips from a Teen-age Golf Pro

Todd Golditch is what you might call a “below par” golfer.

In 1994, the Northridge native won the gold medal at the Maccabiah Games in Cleveland, then repeated this feat when the Games were held in Los Angeles the following year. A University of Pennsylvania freshman, Golditch last month helped lead the Quakers to their first-ever Ivy League golf championship. He placed fourth individually.

Golditch, 18, credits much of his success to the support of his mother, Joanne, and the coaching of his father, Bud.

“My father taught me how to play,” says Golditch, a Chatsworth High School product. “He knows how to correct my flaws.”

Home for the summer, Golditch took some time out to talk shop with The Journal:

TODD’S FOUR-STEP PROGRAM TO IMPROVING YOUR GAME:

1) Play a short game. Work on your chipping and putting.

2) Stay confident mentally.

3) Improve each shot individually.

4) After a bad shot, put it past you and hit the next one better.

SECRET OF MY SUCCESS: The only thing I do is make sure I get a lot of rest. Walking 36 holes on the first day is pretty tough. On the course, I’ll have some fruit, maybe a banana, but I don’t really stick to anything.

PAR NONE: I really don’t have any favorite [professional golf players]. I don’t have one standout player. I’m a fan of everyone’s game.

CLUB OF CHOICE: My driver.

GREENER PASTURES: The best course I ever played was one in Sacramento called Twelve Bridges. I’ve played in a couple of national tournaments there. It’s a really tough course. The rough was really high, so there’s a huge premium on hitting your drives on the fairway. The greens were really undulating and fast.

SAVE THE BEST COURSE FOR LAST: My coach has given us an incentive to play a course in New Jersey called Pine Valley. It’s ranked No. 1 in the world. We’re going to play there in September.

DEALING WITH GROUPIES: Unfortunately, I don’t. I wish I had that problem. Maybe in a couple years….

“CADDYSHACK” OR “TIN CUP”: “Caddyshack.” I’ve actually seen it for the first time a week ago. Everyone told me I should see it. I thought it was really funny. — Michael Aushenker, Community Editor

From left, Bud Golditch, Francis Vaughn (Penn golf coach), Todd Golditch and Joanne Golditch with trophy from 1910