Curtis Rowe, the longtime director of golf at the Temecula Creek Inn, finds it tough sometimes to relate to kids nearly three times his junior. Especially when that kid is Rickie Fowler.
About 10 years ago, Rowe walked on as a single at what is now the Golf Club at Rancho California in Murrieta and was paired with two high school players from Murrieta Valley High.
Although they had golf in common, it only took a few holes for Rowe to realize Fowler’s game was on a different level, even back then.
Rowe specifically remembers one hole – the par-5 fourth – when he powered his tee shot down the middle and was feeling good about its distance. That was until Fowler bombed it 70 yards past his.
“I’m 6-foot-3 and he’s 5 feet nothing and he just hit the ball so far past me,” remembers Rowe. “And he was making every putt, making everything.”
They played a quick nine holes and Rowe shot 1-over par, registering a birdie and two bogeys. He remembers Fowler shot 2-under, including two birdies and no bogeys. Fowler’s teammate shot 1-under.
“You don’t like to get beat by high school kids, especially when you are a golf pro,” joked Rowe.
Rowe remembers Fowler being very laid back during his round, just going about his business. “Typical Rickie,” he said.
That same year Fowler set the record at Temecula Creek Inn with a 62 over the Stonehouse and Creek courses. His junior year of high school, Fowler won the California state championship. He was an American Junior Golf Association all-America selection in 2005 and 2006. Fowler has gone on to win three times on the PGA Tour, including The Players Championship in 2015.
Rowe has played with a number of talented and celebrity golfers over the years, too many to remember really.
“I tell people who are coming up in the business to take pictures of who they play with so you don’t forget,” he said. “I wish I would have done that because I’ve forgotten.”
But he’ll never forget that day teeing it up with Fowler.
Ryan McCoy is a top young who plays regularly at Temecula Creek Inn. Rowe said the Great Oak High junior reminds him of Fowler, a guy who “goes low and is winning everything.”
Let’s hope he has a picture with McCoy.
Marc Figueroa is a freelance writer who has been covering golf in San Diego for more than 20 years.