Three graying baby boomers—a mortgage broker, an insurance broker and a commercial painter—stand in an empty high school gym, staring up at the red-and-gold banners on the north wall. The banners commemorate championship seasons in football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, track ... but the banner with the longest list of title seasons is for boys' golf.
"In '63 and '64, we never lost a match," says the mortgage man, who's in a dark sweater over a burgundy polo.
"I don't think we lost a point!" says the insurance guy, whose blue windbreaker is a tee prize from a charity scramble.
"I know I never lost," says the painter, the most rakish of the three with his trimmed white beard and sunglasses. The tail of a Hawaiian shirt dangles from the front of his buttoned-up rain jacket.
His friends second the motion: "I didn't either.... Nope."
And neither, they don't have to add, did their two best players.
Tom O'Kane, the insurance broker, doesn't want to brag. "But I stood on the 18th green at Sacramento's Haggin Oaks in 1963 and watched my teammate Bob Lunn win the U.S. Public Links Championship. And in 1964, having qualified for the national junior, I watched my teammate Johnny Miller win the U.S. Junior." O'Kane goes for understatement: "I kind of knew we were pretty good."
The three old friends have plopped on folding chairs in the Abraham Lincoln High gym to share memories and submit to fond needling. The gym, they are quick to point out, holds no special meaning for them. "You were considered a sissy if you were on the golf team," says Doug Nelson, the painter who won the 1971 California Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach. "You didn't tell anyone."