Housekeeping with Golf, Graffiti, and a Good Friend


In this case, there’s some new information on a previous column that may be of interest. I also have an update on a column topic that I have tapped two other times in the past year.  And the final item is about a good friend of mine.

The last time I did a housekeeping column, I thanked Modesto Bee writer Jim Agostino for the concept, especially for the phrase at the beginning of the piece telling the reader approximately how long it will take to read.

In this case, the estimated reading time is four minutes.

Stevinson Ranch Golf Course Flag, Photo by Newvine Personal Collection
Stevinson Ranch Golf Course Flag, Photo by Newvine Personal Collection

Stevinson Ranch Golf Course just sent out an email to the people who were regular subscribers of their email service telling us that memorabilia from the course is for sale.

The course closed in July

People can buy flags from the putting greens for $20 each.   The remaining golf hole signs, carved into wood and showing the layout of a particular hole, are selling for $100 each.

I took a picture of one of those flags when I played there for the last time a couple of months ago.  My souvenirs from that course are the memories it gave me over the last couple of seasons when I returned there after an extended absence.

A flag would be nice, but I’d rather look ahead to the next challenging golf course that becomes my favorite.

Frankly, the whole story about Stevinson closing is kind of sad.

The owners did what they had to do.  I don’t blame them.

I accept their business decision, but I now have a round to play somewhere else.

Mail Pouch Tobacco barn

Mail Pouch Barn, South Merced, Photo from Newvine Personal Collection
Mail Pouch Barn, South Merced, Photo from Newvine Personal Collection

Do you remember the column that posted in April of 2014 - CLICK HERE on the Mail Pouch Tobacco restored barn sign on highway 99 south of Merced?

That column got a lot of shares and a lot of hits for which I am grateful.

I did an update a few months later  - -"Barn Signs and Bureaucracy Collide in Mail Pouch Sign Controversy "-  when I learned that the state transportation agency Cal Trans was forcing the barn’s owner to have the advertisement painted on one side of the building removed.

Cal Trans says that’s because the ad violated some rule regarding distance from the highway to where the advertising is displayed.

The rule seemed silly at the time and I said so.  I believe I used the word “bureaucratic”.

The state of California ruled that the sign for Brent Jerner’s APG Solar company had to be painted over.

Ironically, if it wasn’t for Brent, the restoration would not have happened in the first place.  He was the one who secured a grant from a non-profit agency that paid for a local artist to do the restoration.

The update to the story is even sillier than the bureaucracy I described in that second column on the Mail Pouch barn last year.  The side of the barn with the solar company advertisement that had to be painted over is now covered with graffiti.

I’m not showing a picture of that because I don’t like giving graffiti trespassers the exposure they seek.

But to Cal Trans and their bureaucratic decision to take something positive and turn it into a negative, I do say “what do you think of the barn now?”

My first Merced friend

Steve Newvine and Jim North, Photo from Newvine Personal Collection
Steve Newvine and Jim North, Photo from Newvine Personal Collection

And finally, a personal note about the man I call my first friend in Merced.

Jim North met me at a golf outing at Stevinson Ranch about nine years ago.  I was new to the community, and we were lumped into a foursome.

Little did I know that pairing would last all these years.

Jim was an Air Force veteran.  He was one of many who came to Merced County to serve at Castle Air Base. After building a life with his family here, he made the community his home.

Upon leaving the military, Jim owned and operated the Hot Diggity Dog food cart seen at many community events.

Jim and I played golf on a number of occasions over the years.  I’ll never forget a day at Rancho Del Rey in Atwater when I pulled out a ball that was part of a dozen given to me by a friend from upstate New York.

I told Jim the whole story and he listened patiently as I explained how this ball from a good friend, how it the last ball in a box of twelve, and how it had my name and birthday stamped on it in honor of my fiftieth birthday.

I then hit the ball into a pond.  Jim looked at me, smiled and said, “Well, Happy Birthday I guess.”

Jim and his family have had a rough year.

I hope that story brings a smile to them because I still smile every time I think about it. Steve Newvine lives in Merced