Golf Article

Where did my ball go?

George Bosma -- Golfer & Friend

By Peter Hellman


"Where'd my ball go?" shouts George. To this day, I am unsure if the question was intended to psyche me out and throw me off my game or if George really couldn't see his drive, though short, was right down the middle of the fairway. George had cataract issues, but he was also competitive.


I met George Bosma through a friend who worked for the Denver travel club Ports of Call. You may remember it. Though now defunct, it flew club members to many vacation destinations on club airplanes. Ports of Call hired George to start a traveling golf club. His job was to arrange and escort golf trips to great golf courses in the US and abroad. How he got the job is a mystery. He was a dentist for God sake. What does a dentist know about taking a planeload of golfers half way around the world?


One of George's first golf trips was to Scotland. Taking 36 golfers anywhere is a huge challenge for even the most seasoned golf tour operator. Fortunately, at age 64, George was naïve enough to "just do it." To add to his challenges were issues such as never having visited Scotland and hiring a recently retired tire salesman and his wife to handle the ground arrangements in Scotland. To George, however, these challenges seemed manageable and his keen sense of people assured him that Neil and Agnes Morton (his Scottish ground operators) would do just fine. The trip, by the way, was a success.


Not every one of George's trips was successful, however. George's eagerness to travel to new places sometimes backfired. A trip to North Dakota one spring had one member of the group ask George as the airplane was landing, why there was so little green grass in North Dakota. Unfortunately, a foot of snow covered the state. On a trip to Banff and Lake Louise, bears on the course caused a few missed putts and a quick retreat to the clubhouse. Near flood conditions in Napa Valley moved the group off the courses and into the bar. All was not lost, however, as there was plenty Napa's finest wines for sipping and cards to play.


George was born in Grand Junction on February 23, 1923. He attended the University of Colorado and studied dentistry at the University of Nebraska. George practiced dentistry in Grand Junction until an aneurism and operation to repair it resulted in a doctor's advice to quit his practice. Not ready to retire, George was in his early 60's, he took jobs calling on corporations for two large travel agencies in Denver until Ports of Call came calling. In 1989, George came to my office with a mailing list and idea and Classic GOLF Tours was born.


George was tall and slender -- you might say skinny. Though tall enough to play basketball, his sport was golf. He loved the game. He had a pure swing though age kept it short. At Classic Golf Tours, George served as Chairman of the Board, and led golf groups to some of the world's best courses. George was good looking and charming. Women were attracted to him. If George was a trip leader, that trip was usually sold out. Thought Scotland was his favorite golf destination, the annual New Year's trip to Arizona was his most popular.

George not only played golf, he supported it. To honor his wife Fanchon, who passed away 10 years before him, George contributed to the University of Denver Women's Golf Team. He also threw his supported to Central City and Black Hawk. His interest here was not charity or the Central City Opera. George was a gamer. His game was Texas Hold 'Em. In fact, George wrote a book about some of the characters he met as a member of one of California's oldest private card clubs. Kill Pot, published in 2004, relates stories, part fiction and part fact, about colorful members of the club where George spent many hours a week. Names in the book were changed to protect the players from suspicious spouses and divorce attorneys.


George died in January 2008, in San Diego, just shy of his 84th birthday. He was a friend and a person whose memory time won't fade. I am sure that off the tee, wherever he now plays, George is just as straight and down the middle even with his eyes closed.