Jon L can go ahead and add golf emissary to his record. The raconteur, Judge Smails impersonator, and former high school young gun recently made his debut as an ODIN Ambassador.
He’s called Northern California’s golf scene home for over two decades and he’s got a million dollar swing, to boot. In this edition of the O Chronicles, Jon takes us through his time as a long-time golf addict, ex-driving range attendant in the mid 90s and his crew’s degenerate skins games at Bandon Dunes.
From our recent ODIN Social Club outing.
There’s often this rite of passage that kids go through when they first get into golf. What got you hooked back in the day?
JL: When I started beating dad at Sunken Gardens. I was 10 or 11. Then I got personalized golf balls as a gift. At that point, little league didn’t seem so cool anymore. I cut my teeth as a range attendant, caddy, and cart gopher...not glamorous or profitable but to be around the game every day, I felt like I was stealing.
You used to help run a local golf shop in NorCal. What was that like?
JL: My bar mitzvah. Mom forged an illegal work permit for me to gain employment at 14 years old. I spent days hustling customers on the indoor putting green, learning how to build and repair golf clubs, and spent my entire paycheck on equipment. Endless supply of Labatt Blue in the office fridge. I was criminally young, but much of my life was shaped by those years.
Let’s talk about your time in the ODIN crew. What initially drew you to ODIN?
JL: The golf world is still dominated by folks in the ivory tower. Hellaciously expensive equipment and courses, reserved for a relatively small number of people. I was lucky to grow up on muni courses and had access. ODIN stands to bring access and opportunity to everyone, regardless of background and not take things too seriously. We need more of that in today’s world. Plus, it’ll be nice to see some splashes of color.
When you’re out hittin’ the sticks, what’s important to you in that experience on the course?
JL: For those 3-4 hours, it’s a period of time where the only thing that matters is the next shot. Not work or any stresses from the real world. You’re playing with great friends and meeting new people bonded by a passion for the game in the most stunning outdoor environments. Most important is improving as a player and person, mentally and physically….and winning.
Any cold hats, music?
JL: My go-to pop is a beer, bloody or Daniel’s famous Cordevalle margarita. Depends on where I’m playing. At El Dorado I’ll grab a chilled bottle of Grand Cru Chablis at the rest station, at Wentworth I’ll grab a sausage sandwich and Old Speckled Hen, DC Ranch a Scottsdale Blonde and at Cal Club...double transfusion. My playlist is ridiculously varied but down the fairway is prime country and French hip hop. Alan Jackson, George Strait to Lomepal and Orelsan.
What’s your Sunday Skins crew like?
JL: Mostly degenerate gambling, golf addicts. World class trash talking. Everyone has real game. We finish our round, pile into the men’s lounge and delete about 50 beers.
Plotting his next nuke.
Word on the street is you’re part of a pretty legendary Bandon trip each year. Give us a taste of what that’s like.
JL: My best friend and I first made a pilgrimage about a decade ago and it was life changing. Bandon is unlike any other experience in that it’s singularly designed around golf. Our group is now 12 friends from all walks of life all over the globe - we do 36 a day, great wines - it’s magical. I’ve been blessed to play the finest courses all over the world but the Bandon weekend is my Super Bowl.
How is the golf scene changing? Where do you see it in 10 years?
JL: More accessible to lower income, underserved communities, faster play. Wouldn’t be shocked to see courses on tour tip out past 8000 yards or even 13 hole courses to optimize for round time.
Winning the longest drive competition at one of our Social Club tourneys.
You've been invited to play at Augusta. You can bring 3 other people of your choice: 1 PGA player, 1 friend/family member and 1 famous person. Who are they?
JL: Phil Mickelson, my Dad and Sean Connery had he been alive. Hmm...Howard Stern.
Go Balls Out. Always!