Steve's resourcefulness has raised some eyebrows. A newspaper reporter came out a couple of years ago to see if Steve was a con man. The reporter asked Steve if he was reselling the donated equipment. "He wanted to know if we were legitimate," Steve says. "I think he left here convinced that we were doing the right thing. People should simply come out and see how we live."
Since they've built their field of dreams, people have indeed come. NBC's Today show visited in June, and there is a TV movie in the works. "I like the attention," says John. "It's fun when people come out and donate stuff to us." His father adds, "John's life is meeting people."
Most summer days, with the Montana sun shining until 10 p.m., John waits for a neighbor or a tourist to come by for a round. John's game has improved enough that he can shoot in the mid-50s for nine. He's a good putter despite his lack of depth perception. (He hits everything firm.) A half-dozen times a year John plays in charity tournaments and Special Olympics events around the country, mostly to increase awareness of his course. In 2003 at the Special Olympics World Games in Ireland, John won a bronze medal.
For most of his trips he takes his bright orange General Lee number 1 golf cart, which is a downsized replica of the '69 Dodge Charger that Bo and Luke Duke drove in the '80s TV show The Dukes of Hazzard. (John's miniature dachshund, Daisy Duke, is named for the Hazzard character of the same name.) The cart, donated by the Club Car company, has become his signature.
The course, though, is his real passion. In the morning he mows the greens, fairways and tees. Juana asserts that her son is lazy and wouldn't work if he didn't have to. "I like hard work sometimes," counters John, "but I'd rather play golf with friends." And here there are never any complaints about slow play. "This is John's Golf Course," he says with a giggle. "I can do whatever I want."