Village News Reporter
The coronavirus quarantine closed the gym Fallbrook residents Dawood and Emma Ashe had been using to exercise, but as members of the Golf Club of California they were allowed to use the course. Initially walking only was allowed while golfing, but even after carts were permitted the couple placed their equipment in a hand cart and walked the entire course.
After walking the course and playing rounds for 365 consecutive days, they took a one-day break before resuming that activity. Emma Ashe was unable to continue every day, but on Jan. 6, Dawood Ashe played his 1,000th round in a 1,001-day period.
“I really feel relieved,” Ashe said.
“It’s a huge deal playing 1,000 rounds on any golf course, especially this one,” said Golf Club of California head pro Don Gatch.
Gatch and first assistant pro Brian Sangster were part of the foursome who golfed with Ashe during his Jan. 6 round. When Ashe’s wife was unable to continue, David Yourdesky rounded out the foursome.
Ashe completed his 1,000th round with a four-foot putt on the 18th hole, although his 18-hole score Jan. 6 was unavailable. “We don’t keep score. We just play the game. Score isn’t very important,” he said.
He admitted that he shot no better than par on any of his holes Jan. 6. “I missed a lot of birdies,” Ashe said.
Ashe noted that his best score during his 1,000 rounds was 75. (The Golf Club of California course is a par 72 course with four par 3 holes, 10 par 4 holes, and four par 5 holes.) Prior to golfing his 1,000 rounds, Ashe’s best score was 82.
“The night before I think about golf, something new I want to try,” Ashe said.
In many cases his desire has been the result of a missed putt. “I think I’m a much better putter right now,” Ashe said.
Ashe turned 74 on Aug. 25 and his wife turned 68 in November. They began golfing about 15 years ago. “Back then I was a bowler,” Ashe said.
They began golfing shortly after moving to a senior community in Escondido. “All these people didn’t have anything to do,” Ashe said.
The residents there often took advantage of the site’s golf course, so Ashe and his wife tried the links. “We got out, we had fun,” he said.
In most cases the residents would hit the ball but not adhere to rules or other components of the game. “They didn’t play golf,” Ashe said.
Ashe and his wife became interested in the actual golf rules. “Emma and I were reading about golf,” he said. “I started really golfing.”
Another golfer invited Ashe to play a round on the Golf Club of California course. Ashe enjoyed playing there.
“The second time I came out I said, ‘We’re going to become a member’,” Ashe said.
Ashe and his wife have now been Golf Club of California members for 11 years. They moved to Fallbrook nine years ago to be closer to the golf course.
Prior to the coronavirus shutdown, Ashe golfed nearly every day while his wife played on the course approximately three times each week. They were also going to the gym approximately three times each week, but the closure of the gym eliminated that exercise. The Golf Club of California remained open, although only to members, which allowed them to make up for the exercise lost by the gym closure.
Before carts were allowed, Ashe and his wife walked the course each day while playing a round of golf. On some days in the weeks after they began, rain kept them from their routine. The weather permitted walking and golfing every day from April 11, 2020.
Although there was rainfall during the ensuing 1,000 days Ashe and his wife utilized an umbrella. Light rain required adjustments to be made as the dampness affected the course and trying to find the ball after a shot is also more difficult during rainfall.
When carts were once again allowed, Ashe and his wife continued to walk. They used a cart to transport their clubs but walked the full length of the course while pushing or pulling the cart.
The daily walk is approximately seven miles, although errant shots can increase that distance. The course has hills and how long the walk around the course takes – along with 18 holes of golf –depends on whether other players are using the course. At first walking the course and playing 18 holes took Ashe and his wife approximately 4 1/2 hours without any wait for other golfers. They were able to reduce that time to under four hours if the course is not busy.
They lost weight, and their golf scores also began improving. On Jan. 20, 2021, which was their 285th day of walking the course, Ashe shot an eagle (two under par for the hole) on the 14th hole.
Eventually Ashe and his wife set a goal of walking the course for 365 consecutive days. That occurred on April 10, 2021.
The couple opted to discard the streak to prioritize the walks and rounds themselves and did not golf on April 11, 2021. “We took off one day and we didn’t know what to do,” Ashe said.
Ashe and his wife returned to their daily routine and walked the golf course while playing a round for 500 days in a 501-day period on Aug. 24, 2021, which was the day before Ashe’s 73rd birthday.
During some of the next 500 days, Emma Ashe was unable to complete the course. Dawood Ashe continued to golf and walk the course every day, and Golf Club of California staff ensured that Ashe could continue his rounds even when the course was otherwise closed.
The golf course was closed to the public on Christmas Day, although Ashe still played a Dec. 25 round. “We allowed members to come out,” Gatch said.
Ashe’s 997th round was Jan. 3 and his 999th round was Jan. 5. Heavy rain occurred on both days.
“Yesterday was the worst,” Ashe said. “When I hit the ball, it would land in a puddle of water.”
The golf course was closed Jan. 5 due to the heavy rain, but Ashe was allowed to play his round and walk the course. The rain canceled a Jan. 5 tournament on the course, which gave Ashe an earlier tee time than scheduled. The cancellation of the tournament moved up his tee time to 8:40 a.m.
Ashe was given a Jan. 6 tee time of 8:20 a.m. He completed his 635th consecutive day of golfing and walking the course shortly after noon.
“We were looking forward to it,” Gatch said.
A celebration at the 18th hole was followed by lunch.
“I owe everything to golf. Without golf, I wouldn’t have the life I have today,” Ashe said.
The walks have become a routine not only for Ashe and his wife but also for other golfers who greet and encourage the couple during their daily rounds. “Golf Club of California is the greatest golf club in my opinion in Southern California,” Ashe said. “It has the greatest members and greatest staff.”
Ashe noted that the Golf Club of California staff accommodated him with tee times as well as allowing him to use the course when it was closed to the public. “I appreciate everything they did to make it happen for me,” he said.