June 27, 2001
MARTY PARKES: Good afternoon, it's my pleasure to welcome Mr. Steve Taylor to the interview area. One of the things we love about all of our Opens is the various qualifiers who go through qualifying around the country and are here this week playing with the players who are on the SENIOR PGA Tour week in and week out. So, Steve, maybe to start I would like you to recap perhaps how you got into the field here.
STEVE TAYLOR: I qualified at a course called Goose Creek in Southern California. There were approximately 85 players. And three spots available. An amateur by the name of Bobby Clark who used to play the Tour years ago was low qualifier with a 67 and there were three 69's. Myself and Cesar Sanudo and another fellow were in a playoff. And I parred the first hole and got one of the spots and then Cesar and the other fellow, which made double bogeys, both of them, went to the 10th hole and continued the playoff.
MARTY PARKES: This is Steve's first Senior Open and Steve, maybe your impressions about playing in the national championship for the first time.
STEVE TAYLOR: Well, it's quite a bit different from the Tour tournaments that I remember. There seems to be a lot more volunteers. It's a little more organized, I think. And every one is really friendly. Treats you really nice here. And I've seen a lot of players that I haven't seen for 25, 30 years, which is nice. All of them a little grayer, like myself. But so far it's been real nice. The course is in real nice shape. I understood they had a problem and have done a fantastic job getting the course back in shape. So I'm just enjoying everything. This is like heaven to me from where I come from.
MARTY PARKES: Speaking of heaven, maybe you should introduce your caddy who is also here this week.
STEVE TAYLOR: Well, my caddy is one of my best friends first and he's also the pastor of Christian Life Church Assembly of God. He caddied for me in the qualifying and we play golf quite a bit in Southern California together. His name is Rick Dodd. And my wife and I both have traveled with Rick and his wife, Pam. And about a month ago we went to Pismo Beach and played in the California Assemblies of God North/South Ryder Cup matches. Which is a lot of fun. We really enjoyed that. And when I make the cut this weekend I think the wives are going to be flying out. So.
MARTY PARKES: Steve, the last question before I open it up, you have a little bit different occupational background than some of the people we usually have here at the Open. Could you talk a little bit about your career as a corrections officer.
STEVE TAYLOR: Well, in 1977 when I played the Tour I had a pretty good rookie year. And I finished second in the Southern Open. And in 1978 my sponsor passed away. So I was married with two small children and was faced with getting a real job, you know. So I had applied with the Department of Corrections in California, I also had a job lined up with Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Durango, Colorado. And I had a house in Sacramento that we hadn't put on the market yet. And I came back and a friend of mine set me up for an interview at 9:30 in the morning at Folsom Prison. And I was hired at 1:30 that afternoon. And in those years they used to just give you your uniform and send you on the job for all three shifts for a week to see if you liked it before they would invest the money in sending you to the academy. So I did that, went to the academy and promoted to sergeant in 1990 and retired in took an early retirement August of '99. And then started playing various tournaments trying to get the tournament nerves back and getting back into the swing of it.
MARTY PARKES: Thank you. Questions for Steve.
Q. Can you talk about the transition you had to make in going from a corrections officer back getting into tournament type of frame of mind and getting your game back. I mean, how much work did you have to do in order to get to the level where you're at now?
STEVE TAYLOR: Well, when I retired in August of 1999 I went to the TOUR School, the SENIOR TOUR School in San Antonio, Texas. And I had been just practiced with Rick. And played and I shot 65 the first day and was leading. And I did not want to play golf the second day. That's how bad it was. I did not, I was thinking, well, maybe I can say my arm hurt or my back hurt. I just felt like a fish out of water. And the second day I was paired with Stewart Ginn, and Steve Marriato and I shot 73 the second day. But I was extremely nervous, I felt very uncomfortable. And then the third day I felt a little better, but I still just wasn't ready for that type of competition. And ended up shooting 80 the third day with an 11 on the fifth hole. I remember it well. And ended up missing by four strokes. It was very difficult starting back. My wife and I, because when I first left Folsom Prison and immediately came to Southern California, I started playing in some of these Golden State Tours and we laughed to this day that I was shaking in my boots just going and playing in those tournaments. So it has been a positive progression getting back into it. Primarily just getting tournament nerves back. Which was the difficult part.
Q. Is it the dream or is it your dream or whatever motivates you to get on the SENIOR TOUR?
STEVE TAYLOR: Absolutely. Yeah. Working at Folsom Prison there, many, many times you would see the, I would see the paper, I would see TV of players that I used to play with and followed it. See how they were doing. And it was always a dream to get back and try and play again. Definitely.
Q. Could you talk about what the prison was like and what you did there specifically.
STEVE TAYLOR: Well when you first start, when I started you have to work on your, you're on probation, you have to work all three watches. And after that adjustment time of the three watches, I was offered a job at the minimum, at the camp or the ranch they called it. Working with minimum inmates. And it was a camp where we took crews out in the community and did community work. Whether if it was at the Folsom Zoo working at the zoo with the inmates, or I took a crew to Folsom Lake and cleaned up the beaches and the picnic areas. And then in 1990 I promoted to sergeant and went over to the new Folsom facility, which is different levels of custody. And became a yard sergeant first and these were level four inmates, which is, if you know anything about the Department of Corrections, an inmate is categorized with certain points for the crime he's committed. And for like a minimum inmate would maybe go up to 20 points, where an inmate with murder would have 50 points. Well most of these individuals when I promoted to sergeant were maximum inmates. So that was an adjustment. And there's a lot of things that happened primarily in the early '80's when there were lots of gang activities at Folsom. There were shots fired just about on a day-to-day occurrence. And stabbings just about every day. But later on after I promoted to sergeant the new facility, if something ever happened in the new facilities, everybody knows pretty much what to do. Because there's, I won't go into describing the layout of these facilities, but it's much easier to control movement and feeding of inmates and their daily activities. Versus at old Folsom, which is a very old prison, where there's a lot of blind areas and a lot more opportunity for trouble.
Q. Were you involved in any of those things, the shootings? Did you have to fire an at all?
STEVE TAYLOR: I never shot an inmate. But I shot warning rounds to get everyone -- normally when something happens, a gunman normally fires a warning round and everybody gets on the ground. And if they don't get on the ground then they're susceptible to being shot.
Q. I would suspect that would be more nerve shattering than standing over a 3-foot putt to win, would it not be?
STEVE TAYLOR: It's close. (Laughter.)
MARTY PARKES: Other questions for Steve?
Q. Can you talk about your relationship with your caddy Rick here, and is there a time where you maybe look to him for a little, you know, something extra except, you know, club selection?
STEVE TAYLOR: Every day. Every day. The Lord is very important in my life right now. Years ago I was raised by my mother and we went to church every Sunday. And through the progression of playing the Tour and traveling all over the world and then getting into the Department of Corrections, I wasn't as close to the Lord as I am now. And because of my contact with Rick and his wife and the church, I've become much closer to the Lord. And much closer to Rick. And the whole church community that we have there.
Q. Can you tell us what your expectations are for this week here at Salem?
STEVE TAYLOR: I've been playing pretty good. I've been, in the last three weeks I was two weeks in Palm Springs playing in a new senior tour called the Western States senior tour. We played Desert Falls in Palm Springs. I shot eight under par for three rounds and finished third. And then the following week we played at Mission Hills, Arnold Palmer course. And I had the lead going into the last round and a SENIOR TOUR player by the name of Greg Edwards who I played with, shot 63 to beat me. And I finished second there. So I have a lot of confidence now. It took me a year and a half to get the right equipment. I have a new putter and I have a new driver and I just have equipment that is exciting to use. So I have confidence and I anticipate doing well.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about the situation with your sponsor when you had to leave the Tour in the late '70's and how frustrating was it at the time to leave golf behind?
STEVE TAYLOR: It was hard. He died suddenly and that is the only thing that would really terminate our contract. My sponsor was a friend of Tom LaPreste, who was a golf professional in Sacramento for over 50 years and he, of course, Tom was involved with Bob Lund who was from Sacramento. And my contract was drawn up on the same lines as Bob Lund's contract. And when he died obviously it nullified the contract. And at that time you just had to have a sponsor. At least I did. And I played a little bit on my own. I played pretty well. I finished second in the Queen Marry down in Long Beach. But you really, like I said, you really do need a permanent sponsor knowing that you're going to be able to play for the full year. My last tournament, which was the Southern Open, which I finished second, my sponsor had told me that, well, a temporary sponsor I had, that that was going to be the last tournament that he could sponsor me. So I anticipated it. And like I said, I had the Coca Cola Bottling job lined up in Durango, Colorado. And as I said earlier, was hired for the Department of Corrections and that's where I started.
Q. I know you've had some past success, but looking at the Senior Open, how intimidated are you, knowing that you're playing with Nicklaus, Irwin, Kite. Has that dawned on you?
STEVE TAYLOR: Yeah, it's dawned on me. I'm just having a wonderful time. I really don't have anything to lose. I'm just, I have confidence and I'm playing well. I've played in some Tour tournaments before where I was in the thick of it. I was in second all by myself starting the last round the year I Al Geiberger shot 59 in Memphis. I played the last round with Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller. So I think that I'm a little bit more confident now getting back. Not that I'm totally all the way back. But I've been playing well lately. And I'm having a lot of fun and of course having Rick as a caddy and a friend and it's been wonderful so far. I'm really, we're both really enjoying it.
Q. Can you tell us who your sponsor's name was and what were the circumstances leading to his death?
STEVE TAYLOR: My sponsor's name was Leonard Hine. He was my legal godfather. He and my father were prisoners of war in World War II together. And of course his children, I'm still in contact with. It was a sudden death. And he had died of an aneurism at home. And his wife was like a second mother to me when I was growing up. So it was a close family relationship. He was a nice fellow. I played a lot of golf with him. That's about it.
Q. You talk about coming back out here and recognizing some people. Have people recognized you as well? Coming up to you? What has the reception been like and you talked about guys looking grayer, who looks the grayest to you?
STEVE TAYLOR: Well, they all look grayer than they did when I last remembered them. Okay? I remember last year I tried to qualify for the Busch Silverado in Napa, California. And I was an alternate. So I was the sitting around the putting green by the clubhouse just waiting quite a long time. And I remember Gary McCord, I lost in a sudden death playoff to Gary McCord years ago in some mini tour tournament, I think, and he asked me what I had been doing. And I told him and I said, you know, that's on the hush. We don't want that out. So, but they all seem to be a little grayer. A little thinning hair. I played today a practice round with Bill Shoemaker. Last time I played with him was in Georgia and he had hair down to his back. And of course today he didn't have any hair at all. So we all get a little grayer.
Q. What has the reception been like here?
STEVE TAYLOR: It's been fantastic. Rick and I are having a wonderful time. We have looked forward to coming here and having a wonderful time. Really enjoying it.
MARTY PARKES: Any other questions? Steve, thank you for coming in. Good luck this week and play well enough so we need to bring you back in later on.
STEVE TAYLOR: Thank you. Thank you very much.
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