On New Year's Eve, many of us will be putting on our party faces. Eugene "Lucky" Lacaillade will be playing his 360th round of golf this year.
On New Year's Day, many of us will be swallowing aspirin and watching football. Lacaillade will be doing fairways and greens again. There are 365 days in a year, and little interrupts his daily march to the first tee.
"I only miss for bad weather or fishing," he says.
Lacaillade's golfing is more a "Ripley's Believe It or Not" than a Cal Ripken milestone. He is not a publicity hound, looking for attention. He didn't seek us. We found him.
He is 65, lives in Sun City, an Inland Empire area that has now mostly been taken over by the city of Menifee. He is no hopeless duffer. He plays to a 10.2 handicap and got it down to 5.6 a few years ago. He still plays from the blue tees, can still drive it 250 to 260 yards off the tee and can read the greens better than ever now after recent Lasik eye surgery.
He smokes about a pack and a half of cigarettes a day but says he quit drinking years ago.
FOR THE RECORD:
Frequent golfer: In the Dec. 22 Sports section, a photo caption accompanying a column about amateur golfer Eugene "Lucky" Lacaillade erred in stating that he aims to play 365 rounds this year. As the column noted, he expects to play 360 rounds by year-end. —
"I guess I traded one addiction for another," he says.
He likes to play alone because he can sometimes get around the 18 holes in less than two hours. But he also has a set of golfing friends at the strangely named California Golf & Art Country Club in Sun City, where he is a member and lives in a condo off the fourth hole with a cat he named Doofus in an attempt to define its personality.
He says he plays mostly at California Golf & Art, formerly known as Cherry Hills, a regulation-size track that will never be mistaken for Riviera or Augusta National. Maybe not even for Azusa Greens.
But he branches out frequently to area courses more challenging and more blessed with fairway grass, such as Hidden Valley, Rancho California, Goose Creek and the Legends and Champions courses at Tukwet Canyon.
The Southern California Golf Assn. keeps records of golfers' daily scoring posts.
"Between Oct. 1, 2011 and Oct. 1, 2012," Lacaillade says, "they had me for 355 rounds."
He is asked if he would describe his personality as compulsive.
"You think?" he replies.
There are other obvious questions.
Is he married?
"No," he says.