As a teenager, I worked at a country club just south of San Francisco. I drove the cart that picks up golf balls on the driving range. I cleaned the members' golf clubs. I caddied for the members and their guests. The club was for the bay area's elite. It was for the CEOs, the Chairman of the Board and for the most famous of famous athletes. Willie Mays was a member. Jerry Rice played there often. And Bill Walsh called the club home.
The first time I saw Mr. Walsh (I was to address members by Mr. or Mrs.) I was in awe. I was a huge 49'ers fan and right in front of my eyes was the silver haired legend himself. He was taller than I had imagined. He was quiet. He was polite. He seemed so at ease the moment he stepped on the course. Gone were the crowds and the playbooks. It was he against the golf course and he seemed to really enjoy it.
Many of the members at this club enjoyed being catered to. They liked having their ego stroked and they tipped accordingly. Mr. Walsh was not one of these men. He was friendly and his eyes always looked directly at yours. He would take a bag of golf balls in their tiny green pouch and say thank you. When he was done with a round, he would return his clubs to the bag room and say thank you.
From some members of this exclusive paradise, I learned what it meant to have money. From other members, I learned money was of little importance when collecting Ferraris is your hobby. From Bill Walsh I learned no matter how much money you have or how famous you may be, class can never be bought.
To Mr. Walsh and the Walsh family, may peace be with you at this time. It was my pleasure to shine his clubs and carry his bag.