Dawn Patrol

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The Dawn Patrol: a group of friends who, for about 40 weeks a year, are the first to play Torrey Pines on Sunday mornings. As the sun peaks the first rays of light over the campus of San Diego State University, the Dawn Patrol are already strolling down the first fairway.

These 20 or so folk see themselves as keepers of the links. Torrey Pines holds a special place in each of their hearts. The Dawn Patrol is about friendship, a love of the game and a love for Torrey Pines.

In mid-April, I joined them to see what all the fuss was about.

For interview locations, the seventh tee on the North Course at Torrey Pines really takes the cake. As you’ll see from the show, the view is spectacular; La Jolla village sits to the South and the Pacific coastline stretches away in the distance to the North. We had cloudless skies, temperatures in the mid-80s and a gentle ocean breeze as the sun set. It was pure bliss.

George has a family now, he can’t spend Saturday nights sleeping in his car like he used to do. So, in order to pay his dues he comes down to the parking lot and cooks a feast for his fellow Dawn Patrollers. He does this about four or five times a year, and with GOLF CHANNEL in town, he thought it was fitting to make this Saturday night one of those feasts. Shrimp, steak, salad and vegetables all cooked to perfection and washed down with a nice glass of red. We dined under a large Torrey Pine and watched the sun set over the pacific.

I have to admit, I did not sleep in the parking lot. Instead, I enjoyed the convenience of the on-site hotel. However, my producer, Matt Howley, did in fact sleep in our SUV rental car. As you’ll see from the show, the Dawn Patrol go all-out with their sleeping arrangements. Matt, on the other hand, had a spare hotel room blanket and pillow. He should be congratulated for his dedication.

I may not have gone through the true Dawn Patrol ritual, but I did make the first tee before sunrise. Much to my disappointment, my golf game did not, but it didn’t really matter, the views across the Pacific at dawn were amazing, and the company was entertaining. Dawn Patroller Billy really does have some talent, and breaking par on the South Course was certainly within his grasp.

Our cameraman, Jan, from Yugoslavia was a real character. He’d survived the conflict in Serbia and was now living in Los Angeles, working as a freelance cameraman, a special effects guru on Spiderman movies and passing the other time driving a truck. As he stood on the front edge of the 18th green, Matt told him to be careful of flying golf balls.  “I have forty peese of shrapnel in body, you cink I worry about gulf boll,” he barked back in a thick eastern European brogue.

Not being a fan of red-eye flights, I elected to stay Sunday evening and visit friends in San Diego. We stopped by a free concert with Scottish singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini on the terrace of the Del Mar Plaza. He was in fine form with a great band, the place was packed with all types young and old, the music was fun, the ocean glistened in the dusky spring sunshine and cocktails flowed. It was a great end to a lovely weekend.

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