Gil Rojas loves tennis. Always has. Golf was never his game, not until about nine years. Now, he’s hooked.
Rojas, the former director of finance for the City of Escondido, is a regular at Twin Oaks and many JC Golf courses. He’s been retired for almost two years and last week returned from a golf trip in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he played 10 rounds of golf in eight days. We caught up with him to get his thoughts on his love for the game.
How did you get introduced to golf?
I came to work from the City of Escondido in 2000. I had never played golf before and I was appointed to the board for Reidy Creek. In 2006, I started playing some golf and then became the city’s liaison with JC Golf. The guys at JC Golf are great to work with and I became familiar with the JC Players Card program. Also, I live maybe three miles from Twin Oaks in San Marcos so it was perfect for me. I started playing on the weekends and my fondness of the game grew from there. I would go there after work and play twilight or at least get six or seven holes in. I learned how to play golf at Twin Oaks.
So you went from never playing to now coming back from a Myrtle Beach golf trip. What attracts you to this game?
I used to play a lot of basketball, softball and tennis. I still love playing tennis, but I’m real sore the next day. Golf is really enjoyable and it’s a lot easier on your body. It’s great to be outside with a group of other golfers. During the recession, we had every Friday off so we would have a Friday group that would play. Then I retired and suddenly had all kinds of time to play golf.
Do you have a regular group you play with now?
Not really. I just try to get out several times a week to play, whether it’s Twin Oaks, Encinitas Ranch or the Rancho Bernardo Inn. I also play at Woods Valley a lot. I try to play about four to five times a week. I’m still getting use to this retirement thing. I feel like I should be doing something with my time, so until I figure out what I want to do long term, I don’t mind killing time playing some golf.
What’s your handicap?
I’m a 9. The frustration is that everyone assumes if you play as much as I do, I should be a 3. But it doesn’t work that way. Improvement is incremental. I’ve been as low as an 8, but I play so much I do get frustrated that I’m not a 5. I hope to get there someday.
Do you have a favorite JC Golf course?
I love playing Encinitas Ranch. When my golf game is struggling, I go to Encinitas Ranch to bring my self-esteem back (laughs). It’s wide open, you can always find your ball and recover from a bad shot. I can shoot in the high 70s, low 80s there and get my confidence back. It’s a pretty course being right off the ocean. I really enjoy it. I occasionally play at Torrey Pines and the atmosphere at Encinitas Ranch is similar in that you can see the ocean as you’re walking down the fairway. The vibe is similar.
You’re a numbers guy. Would you consider the JC Players Card a good deal?
Of course. You’re basically paying in advance for your six tee times at a lower rate and then getting the low JC rate for every tee time after that. If you’re going to play a JC Golf course six times in a year, it makes sense to have a JC Players Card.
Marc Figueroa is a freelance writer who has been covering golf in San Diego for more than 20 years