March 7, 2019 By Estelle Holway

Golf in the Good Old Days

The Bureau of Yards and Docks (BUDDOCKS) base in San Bruno was right across El Camino from the Tanforan Race Track, which had a driving range and a par-three golf course. At lunchtime a few of us would take a bag lunch and go there to hit balls.

In 1964, the Tanforan Race Track burned down and was replaced by a shopping center. So there was no more lunchtime practice. Some of us played nine holes after work once a week at Sharps Park in Pacifica or at Cypress Hills in South San Francisco. It was always challenging to play courses after 4 p.m. when the sprinklers were all going in the middle of the fairways.

BUDDOCKS became the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Western Division (WESTDIV) with consolidation of SOUTHDIV, NORTHDIV and WESTDIV in the early 1970s. After that, golfers arrived and started a golf club on the base affectionately known as the WESTDIVOTS. There were about 40 members, and I was the handicapper who also wrote the club’s monthly newsletter.

We played 18 holes of golf once a month. Some of these rounds were on championship courses that tested our abilities. They included: Bayonet and Black Horse at Fort Ord, Pajaro Dunes, Aptos, DeLaveaga, Pasatiempo, Moffet Field, Santa Teresa, San Jose Muni, Harding Park, Sharps Park and Lincoln Park in San Francisco plus others. It was easy to get starting times in those days and the green fees were very affordable.

Rear Admiral Ben Montoya spent three tours at WESTDIV. I first knew him as the Environmental Officer in the Utilities Division where I worked in Contracts. He was always a popular (and good) golfer. Former PVE resident, Captain Jack Biederman, was the WESTDIV executive officer and he and Captain Ben Nelson also joined the WESTDIVOTS.

On a beautiful Saturday in May 1974, I played an unforgettable round with Ben, Jack and Bob at Moffet Field. Ben’s son, Chris, was my caddy. Chris was about 12 years old and made club selections accurately. After a round of golf at San Jose Muni later that year, we got invited to Ben’s house in San Jose for tacos deliciously prepared by Ginney Montoya.

I wish I had saved the WESTDIVOTS newsletters. They had some great stories about how Navy officers and DOD employees escaped sand traps and hit over lakes requiring a 180-yard carry.

It was golf in the good old days. It was the best of times.


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