Posted on January 14th, 2015 No comments
As a lad growing up in Cape Town, South Africa, Robert Gibbs naturally took to the sports all the other kids were playing.
“We played a lot of rugby, cricket and squash,” said the now 76-year-old Gibbs, who just recently assumed his duties as incoming President of the California Seniors’ Golf Association. “We had a great time.”
It all changed in 1963 when Gibbs, then 25, saw more and more of his friends starting to take up golf. At the urging of those friends, it wasn’t long before Gibbs himself turned in his cricket bat for a set of clubs.
In just over a year, he’d get his handicap index down to a 3. He was selected to play for the Bolland provincial golf squad. Comprised of teams of eight, the provincial league featured four-some matches and eight singles matches, a sort of spin-off of the Ryder Cup.
For Gibbs, though, it wasn’t all just about golf.
While on a trip to the United States in the 1950’s, Gibbs had become intrigued with the place.
It was that fondness for America that persuaded him and his wife, Gillian, whom he’d married in 1969, to eventually move to the U.S. in the summer of 1970.
“I was uncertain about the future of South Africa,” said Gibbs, who resides in Napa. “I figured we’d have a better life in the United States. And I was right.”
Having graduated as a chartered accountant (CPA) from Cape Town University, it wasn’t long before Gibbs began settling down in his new home. In the early 1970’s he’d become a small-time real estate developer. Soon after, he was hired as Vice-President of Finance for the developer group Deane and Deane Incorporated, which was half owned by worldwide power giant Westinghouse.
While at Deane and Deane, Gibbs was on hand for the development and construction of Half Moon Bay Golf Links. The project was headed by Arnold Palmer Golf Design, with the chief architect being Francis Duane. Duane would serve as President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects.
“I remember those days very well,” said Gibbs, who not only would become a founding member of the Half Moon Bay Golf Links Men’s Club but was the club champion in 1976. “It was fun to be there.”
Now retired, Gibbs has always enjoyed being involved with golf. Along with his playing days in Cape Town and time at Half Moon Bay Golf Links, Gibbs also once served on the Board of Directors for the Northern California Golf Association.
With 2015 now in swing, Gibbs recently took a break for a quick Q&A session.
What are you looking forward to as incoming President of the California Seniors’ Golf Association?
In the 1980’s-1990’s, I was on the board for the NCGA. I’m looking forward to finishing my role in golf administration. I’m delighted to be putting something back into the game I love.
How did you first get started with golf?
I had some friends who were playing other sports with me who had taken up golf. They told me, ‘You should take up golf.’ I did and through a lot of practice, it went rather well. Some people ask me if I regret picking the game up so late. I was 25. The answer is no because I enjoyed the sports I was previously playing.
What is your greatest golf memory or moment?
I’ve probably got two moments. In 1965, I led the qualifying for the Western Province Amateur Championship in Cape Town. The second one, I still have a little purple patch. It’s from 1988 when I led the first round of the Blossom Festival Tournament at La Rinconada in Los Gatos. I shot a 68. In those two moments, I really played well. With a career, you can’t play golf all the time. You’re a part-time golfer. I remember after that first round at the Blossom Festival Tournament, I was interviewed by Dan Hruby of the San Jose Mercury News. I told him, ‘Every tournament has its first round clowns.’ I think I shot an 80 in the second round.
Is there anything you would change with the game?
For several years, I was the chairman of the Rules Committee for the NCGA, and I passionately agree with the banning of the long putter. I felt strongly for years that long putters and the anchored stroke did not comply with the rules defining a stroke—basically, swinging the club with the intention to move the ball forward. I felt vindication when the R&A (Royal and Ancient) and USGA (United States Golf Association) finally banned it.
What is your favorite golf course and why?
I’ve played an extraordinary collection of courses including Cypress Point Club and Pine Valley. I’ll give you five in no particular order—Pebble Beach Golf Links, Cypress Point, Muirfield and Dornoch in Scotland and Shinnecock Hills. They’re all brilliant, fun to play and exquisite layouts. They are all gems. To be on the first tee of those courses and to know what you have in front of you. It’s incredible.
What courses are still on your wish list?
I have yet to play Augusta National. There’s also Oakmont Country Club and Oak Hill Country Club. I haven’t stopped playing. I still want to play them. The ones that host majors are important to me. I’m still working on my collection.
Who was your biggest golf influence?
Jack Nicklaus. When I took up golf in 1963, he was already starting to take over. He was dethroning The King. Jack was the Boy Wonder. He was always my hero. Today, I’m a big fan of Jim Furyk. I think he’s a wonderful man.
Does or did your business career intertwine with your golf?
Not really. One always hears, ‘Well, you’re a real estate developer, you should play with bankers.’ I never did any meaningful business on the golf course. Golf for me has always been a wonderful escape.
Posted on July 23rd, 2014 No comments
Gross Champion–Rick Goolsby (149)
Net Champion–Andrew Powell (79)
Lake Flight Champion–Rich Simonin (151)
Ocean Flight Champion–Jeff Trigilio (153)
Gross–Darrell Taylor (54)
Net–David Boyce (76)
Gross–Dick Donati (52)
Net–Michael Movius (71)
Gross–Rich Kay (58)
Net–Michael Irvine (71)
Gross–Jerry Gross (53)
Net–Ralph Temple (73)
Gross–Tom Minichiello (54)
Net–Robert Gerst (78)