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more scoring opportunities, with three par 5s and three par 3s.” One of those par 5s is No. 13,


a tight driving hole that plays less than 500 yards from every tee. But it’s the potentially heroic or fatal second shot, with a creek cutting a few yards in front of the green, that is thought-provoking. “The second shot on No. 13 is


pretty fun if you have a chance to knock in on in two,” said Morse about the hole that also graces the cover of this magazine. The course never strays too far


away from the clubhouse, making it easy to enjoy a nice walk. Nearly every hole on the 6,513-yard, par- 72 layout is visible from the pro shop. “It’s definitely an old-school


course,” Hartesveldt said. “It’s almost 100 years old now. The golf course definitely has that feel. We have really small greens. It’s a small footprint here. “But this course has some


intrigue. There are some elevation changes, and some doglegs.” Morse joined the club shortly


after passing the State Bar of California and moving to Merced in 1977. While volunteering for the NCGA since 1986 has swept him away on the road anywhere between 10 and 60 days a year since then, Morse always feels at home at Merced. “I’m really looking forward to being a member again at Merced,” Morse said.


Morse has been a member all


these years, but as duty has called at the NCGA, he’s longed to rejoin the twilight games, the Saturday games and the Sunday games that make Merced such a fun place to belong. “The members are all out here


for golf and the camaraderie that the game offers.” Morse said. Morse didn’t own his first set


of golf clubs until he was 30. He was a pitcher at Gonzaga until he graduated in 1971, and spent many a lunch break as an attorney play-


ing tennis with a local judge. But soon his passion turned


to golf. Even though Morse only had $400 to his name, he decided Merced was the place to join. “It was a thriving social scene,”


Morse said. “Castle Air Force Base was still in existence. There were tens of thousands of military, and many were members here. “There were dinners and par- ties and unbelievable card games and gambling. It was a real social hub. It very much meant some- thing to be a member of Merced Golf and Country Club.” The only problem was it cost


more than twice what Morse was worth—$850. So Morse negotiated a settle-


ment in true attorney fashion: he would owe $50 a month until he could pay it off. The deal worked out for both


sides, as the club took in a passion- ate and loyal golfer who digs out occasional flashes of brilliance. The current owner of a handicap under 6, Morse’s career round came at Merced—a 3-under 69. “I feel like if I could quit my day


job, I could get down to scratch,” said Morse, sharing a familiar sentiment among many NCGA members. As Greater Merced has


grown to a population of nearly 100,000—complete with the new UC Merced—the city has gravi- tated north toward the oasis that is the park-like Merced Golf and Country Club. And that has made Merced Golf and Country Club the place to be once again. “I don’t think there is going to be another golf course built in Merced County in my lifetime,” Morse said. “This is the only pri- vate course, and even though there have been some hard times, as time goes on, this is going to become a much more precious property. “If I had the opportunity to buy a piece of property in Merced County, I wouldn’t mind having this.”


It’s definitely an old-school course—almost 100 years old now. The golf course definitely has that feel. –Aaron Hartesveldt, head pro


WINTER 2014 / NCGA.ORG / 27


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