Change at Cypress Point


Arguably the best job in golf is the one held by the head professional at Cypress Point, a shrine of a golf course located on Californias hauntingly beautiful Monterey Peninsula.
Inarguably, one of the best persons in golf is Jim Langley, the man who holds that job.
Langley was in attendance at The World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida Monday night when Cypress Points architect, the great Alister Mackenzie, was inducted posthumously.
As usual, Langleys presence caused little stir. It rarely does. But his absence from Cypress Point will be noted by anybody'member or guest'who has ever gained the privilege of playing a round at the course that has come to be known as The Sistine Chapel of Golf.
The news here is that Langley, 65, is retiring in December after 31 years at Mackenzies enchanting design. Langley, an ex-Marine, was a senior on the 1959 Cal basketball team coached by the legendary Pete Newell that beat Jerry West and Wests West Virginia Mountaineers to win the NCAA championship. Langley married a Cal pom-pom girl who he now refers to as a saint, an exceptional lady.
Life has not cheated Jim Langley although you could argue the case. Fifteen years ago he was involved in a serious car accident while traveling with Bill Borland, who was the Cypress Point club president at the time. Langley sustained serious injuries to his arm and shoulder and hand. He now plays golf with one arm.
Not long ago Langley said this to an interviewer when asked about the ordeal. It was a great experience. It really was. I learned something that perhaps I wouldnt have learned before. You take things for granted in life and we all know since 9/11 that things change instantly.
The members at Cypress Point have been trying to honor Langley these days. And he has been resisting. Politely. He is self-effacing. Or, as one of his assistants, Terry McPartlan told me this week, He is the epitome of humility.
Twice I have had the opportunity to visit and play Cypress Point as a guest. On each occasion I approached the beginning of the round with no small trepidation. Cypress Point is one of those few places in golf where the phrase hallowed ground appropriately applies. It is also famously private.
Within seconds of entering Langleys small pro shop, I was made to feel at ease. And there was nothing obsequious about the way Langley greeted our group.
Now Langley is moving on. His replacement will be Casey Reamer, a PGA of America club pro who, most recently, served as Cypress Points caddymaster. Like Langley, Reamer grew up in California. And like Langley, Reamer will be 34 when he takes over.
Langleys legacy will be his quiet and effortless insistence on treating everyone the same. This is a neat trick at a place peopled, on a daily basis, by captains and kings.
You can expect Reamer to follow the same blueprint.
Langley once said the toughest part of the job was fielding calls'about 20 a day'from people wanting to play Cypress Point. All for good reasons, he said.
Langley also once said the reason he got the job at Cypress Point all those years ago was because he was in the right place at the right time.
Actually, Im thinking it was the other way around when it came to Jim Langley. Im thinking Cypress Point was in the right place at the right time.
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