Allow me here to introduce Jaime Gil-Casares, who was a camper and counselor many years ago. That’s Jaime, at right, with an English guy named Steve Haynes when they were on the staff in 1996. Jaime was the counselor in Hilly 4 that year. To help you gain perspective, Klaus was a camper and Tim Kennedy his JC in Hilly 2, a cabin so rotten that we had to tear it down. Its replacement was Hilly 5. Jay Chetlen was in Hilly 1 that summer and had a camper named Paul Chin, the same fellow who has visited for PGB hoops each of the past several summers. Mike Wiff ran Pines Cabin and Rob Wiff dwelled in the old Guides Lodge, now the Wipfler cabin down by the lake. Easley Edmunds and Mac Wilson were Guides, and two chaps who keep closely in touch to this day. In fact, Easley is getting married today in Urbanna, Virginia. Alice, Charmion and I will be attending! Knaus, aka, The Great Zucchini, Washington’s premiere child entertainer, was on board as well and the only guess I can make on that employee is that I was mad at him for something, most of the summer!
So, Sara, Alice and I went to Madrid last week to meet with the lovely lady pictured below — Fatima, who held a reception for Kingswood potential campers. Ten boys showed up and Fatima thinks that eventually, all of them will be attending. (A couple kids were a bit young.) Happily, I can report that we will be graced with at least five or six Spanish boys for first session. That is not too many, for they are of many different ages and all speak pretty good, if not very good, English.
Guess who gave us the red-carpet treatment beyond all the things Fatima did? Jaime has not changed that much since 1996, but since then, he gained his business degree from Duke, worked in the financial sector for a few years, and then became determined to open his own business in Spain.
As Jaime explained, “Wiff, Spain never has had a really good beer to compete with the likes of all those internationally well known brews.”
With Brabante, Jaime is well on his way to becoming very successful at brewing, bottling, and distributing his product. Brabante was available in every top-scale Spanish restaurant we visited, including this one, where it was the ONLY beer available on tap. And, it is very tasty, too. While most of the Kingswood campers are too young for this treat, trust me when I tell you it is very good.
Next to Fatima’s wonderful reception where we met all those boys, the best part of my trip was the round of golf with Jaime at his Puerto de Hierro club in Madrid. We have a good story to tell:
It was cool and breezy when Jaime teed off on hole number one.
Old Man Wiff held his own for many holes in our match. We had a mixture of sun and clouds throughout the round. We even had to don rain gear for about ten minutes on hole number 9. Quickly, though, the sun returned for most of the back nine.
Then things got most interesting. Coming to number 17, Jaime held a lead in our match and the pressure was on me to play well now.
17 is a long, downhill par 3 with trees, sand, a sharp slope and out of bounds on the right. As Jaime took the tee, it started raining, hard this time. He his a gorgeous drive which landed just off the green on the safe left side. Mr. Wiff, naturally, hit his ball far right and into obvious trouble.
But, we found my ball sitting in tall grass, on the side of the sharp slope, with a huge sand trap and one of those beautiful Spanish trees, like the one you see to the right in this photo of Jaime putting earlier in the round, between me and the green.
“Please call maintenance and have them remove this tree for your special guest,” I teased, and Jaime came right back at me with, “Of course Señor Wipfler, I am honor-bound to treat my company with total respect and will have the tree removed at once, for your convenience. But, before I do that, allow me to suggest that you attempt to hit the ball far to your right and bounce it off one of those mounds and perhaps it will kick back towards the hole.”
In a remarkable stroke of luck, my ball flew out of the high grass, caromed off two mounds and came to rest just 10 feet from the hole. Since Jaime owed me one “mulligan,” or re-try, I had two chances to make it and tie the match. The next photo reveals why I failed.
Jaime obviously said a prayer, which was immediately answered. Out of the blue, literally, it started to hail! You can see the white pellets all over the green. Both my putts resembled pinball machine movements and we laughed so hard we nearly cried.
Here is the actual putt, recorded by Jaime for all posterity.
Jaime had one last miracle for me. ”In Spain, the winner of a match involving hail must pay for lunch.”
And, with that, so ended the finest working vacation one could ever dream of having.