Posted on January 20th, 2014 No comments
Just how much does new 2014 Senior Golf Association of Northern California president Arba Stinnett love golf?
Enough that when the New Mexico native moved to the Golden State in 1984, he bought a membership at what is now his home course–Marin Country Club–before deciding where he was going to live. Turned out, the home he eventually chose was only a block away from the club.
With over 40-plus years of architectural experience on numerous health care and master planning projects such as Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, Stinnett always enjoys playing near home. But he loves visiting the birthplace of golf even more.
Stinnett and his wife Vicki, who’ll celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, have taken 12 trips to the United Kingdom as a couple. In between Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales, they’ve played over 140 courses. A huge influence for the two has been author James W. Finegan, who has three books chronicling golf in the U.K.
“We’re big fans of Finegan,” said Stinnett, whose offices are located in San Francisco. “We’ve played almost all of the courses he’s written about.”
Combining rounds played at home and abroad, Stinnett estimates that he still gets in 150 rounds a year, with Vicki getting in around 120 rounds per year herself. And that’s with them both working.
Among the former Colorado resident’s biggest golf highlights is one of his seven career aces: a 1-iron knockdown shot from 189 yards out into a howling wind at the Legends Resort in Myrtle Beach that found nothing but the bottom of the cup.
Looking ahead to the new year, Stinnett recently took a quick break for a Q & A session.
What are you looking forward to as SGANC President?
We have two challenges as I see it. Number one is to get the very best golf for our members. Number two is to build our membership. I’d argue that if we had Monterey Peninsula Country Club and The Olympic Club every third year we wouldn’t have a membership problem. We’re also starting something different this year. This year we have an outreach program (headed by Doug Beaumont) listing all the clubs where we don’t have members. We have a strategy to get into the clubs. Thing is, once you get some members, it’s contagious.
How did y0u first get started with golf?
I had a neighbor, I had recently graduated from college, and that neighbor wanted me to come out and play. So I went and played. I got the bug. I would at least go hit some balls on the range every day. I still play with those guys today.
What’s your greatest golf memory/moment?
I’ve been into golf for so long, everything is good. But I won a club championship at the course where I first played with that neighbor. I remember being on the last green and knowing that I was going to win. I never felt better in my life.
Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus?
Jack Nicklaus. I think Nicklaus was about as close to a Bobby Jones as he could be. I admire Jack Nicklaus as a man and what he accomplished in golf. Nicklaus to me is close to Bobby Jones in perfection.
Anything you’d change with the game?
Well, I was a little upset with the USGA’s ruling on anchoring putters. As an older player, I think that most older players have the yips of some kind. I use a belly putter but don’t yip. That makes golf fun again. So I was really disappointed with that ruling.
What’s your favorite course and why?
I love links golf. It’s a different game. And when you talk links golf, you have to talk about the British Open. There are a lot of great courses in the U.K. that no one has heard about. An example is Crail Golf Club in Scotland. It’s a wonderful course. But I understand too that links golf isn’t for everybody. There can be a lot of rain and wind.
Who was you biggest golf influence?
There’s a guy named Tom McGraw. He lives in Houston and he’s in the Texas and Colorado Golf Hall of Fames. He is also obnoxious. Back in the day we’d have about 20 guys and play a Skins game. Well, Tom was the best player by far, but he’d go through partners like water. I played with him twice, and I consistently helped him on two holes. He’s quite a guy. We still get together. The reason I worked so hard on my game early on was so I could beat him. But there was just no way.
Does your business career intertwine with your golf game?
We’re a small firm and I know most of our clients very well. I don’t do any marketing. With these clients, I have long term relationships, and we play golf. You get to know someone on a golf course. I’ve developed some outstanding friends through that process.