HORSE’S MOUTH: Nisei Golfers Make A Hole-In-One



By George Yoshinaga


A few weeks ago, when I was preparing to board a flight to Houston, Texas, at LAX, the TSA inspector confiscated an expensive lighter I always carry even if I don’t light up my cigar. I showed the TSA agent some IDs, including one issued to me by the State of California.

It didn’t move him. So I just moved on and boarded the flight.

The reason I bring this incident up again is that the other day, most of you probably read about two unidentified and uninvited “guests” crashing a dinner party hosted by President Obama. How did they slip past the security is the question now being asked over and over.

Not only did they crash the party, they even posed with a photo with the President after the dinner.

Gee, if I can’t board a plane with a lighter in my pocket, how can two unidentified people get next to the President of the United States?

Hey, maybe the security people could have searched them for a lighter in their pocket.

Ah, what a wonderful country we live in.


This past week a local high school football player was critically injured during a game. He was diagnosed with brain injury.

The story also revealed that head injuries are now commonplace among high school football players.

This bit of information peaked my curiosity.

Today, football equipment are suppose to be a real safe guard against injuries, especially with the development of new plastic helmets.

I remember when I was playing high school football, the helmets were made of leather and not really that protective. They didn’t even have face guards in those days. Today, wearing a football helmet without a face guard is unheard of.

Heck, I remember when we played football while we were in Relocation Camp at Heart Mountain. The field didn’t even have grass. It was all dirt and a lot of little rock pebbles imbedded in the ground.

Yet, nobody was ever seriously hurt. Yeah, many of us skinned our faces when falling on the dirt field but other than that, nobody was ever seriously injured.

I wondered how come these days, with great grass or artificial grass fields to play on and highly protective gears to wear, how the problem of injuries is getting to be such a major problem?

As I always comment, just a thought.


I’m not a golfer, but I know that those who play the game all have one goal in mind. That is, to score a hole-in-one. Among golfers, it’s called an “ace.”

The odds of recording an ace are approximately 12,500 to one for an average golfer.

I guess if the math was broken down, that would mean that the average golfer would have to play 12,500 rounds of golf before he/she might score an ace.

If you tee up with five Nisei golfers named Ryo Urano, Tosh Ishikawa, Toshio Uehara, Gene Ohori and Lawrence Otsubo at the Newport Beach Golf Course, a par-59 layout near the John Wane Airport, the odds might be greatly reduced.

All of them have made hole-in-ones at the Newport Beach course, during a 14-month span from August 2008 to October 2009.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Urano, a 72-year-old New Beach resident who aced the 112-yard 5th hole on Aug. 27, said he saw all of the other’s aces drop in. He added, “everyone was finally happy when I made my ace because I was the only one that hadn’t scored a hole-in-one.”

Ohori, 79, also a Newport Beach resident, got his first on the 89-yard 3rd hole on Aug. 21, 2008.

Next was Ishikawa, 80, of Irvine, who aced the 92-yard 12th hole on Oct. 30, 2008.

Then it was Uehara’s turn. Uehara, 71, a Laguna Beach resident, aced No 3 on April 7. It was his third hole-in-one in his career, including an impressive ace on the course’s 217-yard 18th hole with a driver.

Finally, Urano joined the group.

Urano decided to start a hole-in-one fund after his ace with everyone in the group contributing 50 cents each time the group teed up.

Last month, on Oct. 13, there was $18 in the pot when Ostubo made his first act and pocketed the cash in the fund.

Jim Forgash, manager of the Newport Beach Golf Course said the Nisei group is a “Great bunch of guys and they play twice a week.

So Urano laughed and said, “Who’s going to be the next guy to get an ace? There’s over $18 in the pot again.”

Quite a story, isn’t it?

One of these days I think I’ll journey over to the Newport course to see if I can catch them playing. And, maybe one of them might get an ace while I’m following them around the green.


Gosh, I can’t believe it’s December already.

Seems like only yesterday I was asking my wife, “Do you want to spend New Year’s Eve in Vegas to usher in the year 2009?”

Now, I’m asking her, “Do you want to spend New Year’s Eve in Vegas to usher in the year 2010?”

Of course, her reply is the same: “Can we afford it?”

Heh, heh.


When I drive around Gardena, I can believe that a recent survey shows that California leads in the number of supermarkets in all of the 50 States.

California has 3,753, leading New York by 1,000 stores. Texas is third.

Heck, within walking distance of my house in Gardena, there are many supermarkets and that’s not even including Marukai, the Japanese market in Pacific Square.

And, if I jump in my car, there are two more within a mile of my house.

And, most of them seem to be doing a great business even during these times of economic woes for many.

When my wife goes shopping, I usually sit in my car and wait for her.

During the time I am waiting, I try to make a mental note of shop­pers leaving the supermarket and the amount of purchases they have in their carts.

Needless to say, Marukai has the most shoppers of all the supermarkets in Gardena.

I am totally amazed that during the 45 minutes my wife is in the store, how many shoppers push their carts out of the store, loaded to the brim.

And, contrary to what people might think, even though Marukai is a “Japanese” supermarket, I would estimate that at least 35 percent of the shoppers are non-Japanese.

Well, I guess it’s not only the Japanese who pour shoyu on their rice along with natto and tofu on the table.

As most who shop at Marukai know, it’s a “membership” store. Which means, I suppose, that they can get a little better price on most of their purchases.

Since they opened in Gardena many years ago, Marukai has now expanded with new outlets, including one in Cupertino, a Northern California city.

My niece lives in Cupertino and she says she’s happy they opened in her town.

In case some of you may not know, Cupertino is the only city in the United States where the Asian American population is larger than any other group, including Caucasians.

Which is probably good news for Marukai. I guess they did a lot of research before opening a branch in Cupertino.

My niece now shops almost exclusively at Marukai for her grocery needs.

Cupertino is located next door to Campbell. However, I guess those who don’t know where Cupertino is located, probably never heard of Campbell.

I know Campbell because when I was growing up, I attended Campbell Grammar School.

Yeah, I know. Who cares?


Well, Christmas is just around the corner.

When my kids were kids, Christmas had a special meaning around the house. Now that they’ve all grown and “gone on their way,” Christmas is a lot different.

It would begin with the traditional Christmas tree. Since the kids have become adults and moved on, my wife and I don’t even put up a Christmas tree anymore.

Yeah, we have one of those artificial ones stored in the garage, but it isn’t the same as having a real tree propped up in the living room.

For one thing, the fragrant smell of the pine. Artificial trees made from plastic just doesn’t do it, although one year, we bought a can of air freshener with a pine scent.

And, if you have kids you need somewhere to put their gifts, but again, no kids, no gifts, as we called the toys and stuff we used to get for them.

Nowadays, the kids’ gifts to us is usually an envelope with a gift certificate for some department store so we can select what we want. Or a gift certificate at some fancy restaurant so we can enjoy a wonderful holiday dinner.

I guess after our usual meal at McDonald’s anywhere else can be described as a “fancy” restaurant.

Like everyone else (I guess) at Christmas time I do a lot of remi­niscing of Christmas past, often going back to my childhood.

One of these days, I am thinking about writing a short story about the most memorable Christmas I experienced during my lifetime.

I will probably have to squeeze the writing in between pounding out my column.

A lot of Japanese American authors have blossomed in recent years so I often thought about producing a book, but a couple of things keep me from launching my career as an “author.”

I am always curious why people do write books.

Is it simply for the satisfaction gained from the effort, or is it from the possible profit the sale of the book may generate?

I would say in my case, it would be more from the satisfaction that I was able to complete a book, even if nobody chooses to read it.

Oh well, just a thought.

I guess writing a column twice a week should be sufficient for the time being.

After all, in a year’s time, I would guess that I write more than most authors write in a book.

Since I write 15 pages a week, in a year, that comes to 720 pages, which is longer than most books produced by authors.

Okay. I’ll quit bragging.


I know we’re still in the middle of the football season and the NBA basketball is also on the scene so maybe talking about baseball might be a little out of line.

However, it is at this time of year that Major League Baseball teams are setting up their roster for next season. It’s about trying to lineup so-called “free agents” who will be available on the trading market.

One of the so-called “free agents” will be Hideki Matsui, the most valuable player of the 2009 World Series, who maybe given his “walking papers”by the Yankees who have not ex­pressed an interest in re-signing him for 2010.

If that’s so, I hope the Dodgers make a move to grab him. He sure would be a welcomed “fourth” outfielder for the Dodgers.

If Manny becomes a “fanny” (he keeps striking out), Matsui might fill in rather nicely.


Okay, I’ll toss in a bit of football here.

Yeah, I bet on the Bruins to beat USC but we all know how that came out. That’s what happens when one lets the lack of common sense take over.

I should have saved my money for my next trip to Vegas.

You know, it doesn’t take common sense to win or lose in Vegas. Just kukai luck.


Since I do chat about horse racing from time to time in my column, one of the readers asked me, “You often mention your wife in various activities you involve yourself in but you never say if she is also a horse-racing fan. After all, she married a horse.”

Maybe the reader hit it right on the head. So he may wonder how she ever came to marry a horse. She has absolutely no interest in horse racing. So, except for a few special occasions such as the “wartime residents of Santa Anita reunion,” she has never gone to the races with me.

However, she is interested in how I do financially. Also how and why I bet on certain horses since I don’t spend time reading the Raing Form as I used to many years ago.

When I used to study the Form the day before going to the races, she would always say, “Isn’t there something better to do with your time?”

Well, as I often mentioned in recent times, I’ve changed my method of playing completely and I am enjoying more success at the tracks.

My method so called “hunch betting.” You know, picking a horse with an unusual name or the name of someone I know.

A while back I mentioned that I bet on a horse named “Maggie” because as all of you know, Maggie, the real person, types my column for publication. “Maggie” won and returned a handsome payoff.

Well, let me add another chapter to this hunch betting saga.

On Saturday as I glanced casually through the entries at Hollywood Park, there was in the 7th race, a horse named “Dotsy Jean” entered.

What a hunch.

My wife has a sister named Dorothy (usually nicknamed dot) and another sister named Jean.

I jumped in my car and drive the 15 minutes to Inglewood just in time to place a win bet on “Dotsy Jean.” She came roaring in and paid $12.20 for a $2 ticket.

Since I had a larger bet than $2, I can only say, the rest is history.

I took my wife to a fancy restaurant that night and said, “This dinner is on your two sisters.”

She chuckled and said, “I’m glad my sisters weren’t named McDonald.”


Here is a tidbit which should make my Republican friends chuckle:

One day a florist went to a barber shop for a haircut. After the cut, he asked about his bill and the barber replied, “I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.”

The florist was so pleased and left the shop.

When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a “Thank you” card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a police officer came in for a haircut and when he tried to pay, the barber again replied, “I cannot accept your money. I’m doing  community service this week.”

The officer was happy and left the shop.

The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there was a “Thank you” card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at the door.

Then a Congressman came in for a haircut and when he went to pay his bill, the barber again replied, “I cannot accept your money. I’m doing community service this week.”

The Congressman was very happy and left the shop.

The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen Congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And, that my friends, illustrated the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it.


Okay, so a reader notes that I am always yakking about aging beyond 80 years. So he sent me a few one liners about people who reached that age. Here are a few:

• Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

• No one expects you to run—anywhere.

• People call at 9 p.m. and ask, “Did I wake you?”

• Things you buy won’t wear out.

• You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

• Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

• Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

• Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either.

• And finally, never, never, never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


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