Observations of a 'Tin Cup' Pro - Part 3: Seattle, Another Wife & Other Tales

By: Jeff Shelley


In the second installment, Charlie Schaubel talks about moving to New Orleans, crewing on boats, a red-haired girlfriend, replacing Johnny Miller at a celebrity event and his star-crossed experiences with a training device. In this third and final installment, Charlie goes into his move to a place as far as possible within the continental U.S. from his adopted hometown of New Orleans. Here, he confesses to some difficult times brought on by personal tragedies.

About this time, I went out to Seattle to visit my daughter. I stayed with ex-wife Helen - yeah, the same one who invited Captain Bill to crash at our place in New Orleans. On Christmas Day, I met my next wife. We got chummy over the next couple of weeks, and then I go back to New Orleans. But I had a big-time urge to move to Seattle.

It's winter time and I'm short on funds. So Jimmy buys me new tires, and I head out to Seattle with my old Toyota. I get about 100 miles and it breaks down. Hmmm, I got zero extra money. I managed to get it fixed and continued to drive, but I ran out of money and called Marlene (my next wife) to get more financing for the trip.

Marlene sends me a couple of hundred bucks, which is enough to get me there. I was totally wired - I drove five days without a radio and had nothing but thoughts running through me head.

I get to Seattle on a Saturday night, and move in with Marlene, whom I'd known for only two weeks. "Livin La Vida Loco." Four days later we're in the process of bidding on a two nine-hole courses and a driving range located about two miles from her house.

We win the bid by a hair (0.5 percent) over some guy who was going to turn the clubhouse into a Laundromat. He wanted to set it up so people could do their wash and hit golf balls. We had $2,000 between us (more like Marlene had two grand), and we were leasing two golf courses and a rundown driving range from the Seattle Parks Department.

We had no golf balls for the range or any equipment for the courses. I could say we somehow or other pulled it off, but I think some things are just meant to be. You can see this only after it's all over.

So here we are, one big happy family, Marlene with her two kids, Matt and Dione, and me and my daughter Jennyfer, all living together on the beach in Seattle. We do the Disneyland trip and all the other stuff families do. In that period of time, golf was getting hot. A year or so after we got the contract, $2,000 became walking-around money.

Onward and upward, from glory to glory. In 1986, I had to step in and make the "Putting Chipping" tape because some big-name pro couldn't make it. You can still buy that tape over the Internet.

I started the Coke Celebrity Tournament, which is in my resumé. Played golf with many Seattle celebrities, including former Supersonics' coach Lenny Wilkens, University of Washington football coach Don James, Jack Sikma of the Sonics, Seattle Times columnist Emmett Watson, and many TV people.

Going from Heaven to Hell

Jimmy Self gets Tim Simpson to use the Puttband and he wins the PGA Tour's New Orleans Open, where he gives credit for his great putting to the Puttband. This is a big deal because now Simpson gets to play in the Masters the next week. He promises he'll use the Puttband on the practice green at Augusta National. So Jimmy and I decide to go to Augusta and, sure enough, Simpson does use it on the green. We get some press and go home happy.

I arrive in Seattle on a Monday at the top of my teaching career. Four days later, Marlene and Matt are sitting in back of Cadillac while I drive them to the hospital in the middle of the night. A few hours later, on April 15, 1989, Matt dies at age 7 of congestive heart failure at Seattle's Children's Hospital.

That was a turning point for "Good Time Charlie." You never get over something like that, though time does heal many wounds.

Over the next two years, my mother dies and I get a divorce. Then they cover up Interbay with dirt from the Sonics' new arena (never built, as it turns out). My daughter moves out and I am left with Fred, my white German shepherd, and this big house. So I sell it and take a year off to get my head straight.

I return to New Orleans of course. Hang out and hook up with an old girl friend and start enjoying life again. I decide to go to Reno to learn how to deal blackjack. After completing classes at a dealer school, they tell me about a place that needs a dealer and might work for me. It's in the middle of the desert.

So I go to check out the place. I'm driving and driving and it seems like the landscape is turning into a moonscape with no life anywhere. There aren't even telephone poles. Desolate. I find the place, but there are no cars behind or in front. No cars in either direction. Looks like I'm in the Twilight Zone.

Soper's Casino looks like an old-time, one-story country restaurant. I walk in wondering what in the heck I've gotten myself into this time. There are about five or six people inside, one of whom is the pit boss I'd been talking to on the phone. Her name was Lynda.

I walk up to her and look her dead in the eyes and say, "This is the friggin' weirdest place I'e ever been." Then I walk to the bar and order a double shot of tequila. By the time I belt it back and am going for the lime, Lynda calls across the room, "You're hired."

That was the total interview.

I was right about the place being weird. The week before I got there the day the cook killed his girlfriend, then chopped her up in their cabin on the casino grounds and came into the casino as if nothing had happened. He sat down and started playing the slots. Someone discovered the body and called police. But he just kept on playing the slots.

Stayed there a couple of months until the pit boss starting screaming at me while I was dealing. It is a felony to slug a pit boss in Nevada, so I packed my car and was out of there in two hours. I wanted to belt the guy so bad, but I used my golfing self-control and somehow didn't.

I got back to New Orelans. It was 1995. At the time, the Internet thing, with a browser that shows pictures, was getting big. The Internet was around in the early '90s, but it contained stuff like bulletin boards and airline schedules.

Got heavy into it and wished I had someone show me how to do websites. So who shows up but none other than Justin Hall, the original blogger. Hitchhiking around the country with his thumb out, Hill was in a bar talking to some merchant marine about what he was up to. The merchant marine tells him that he knows a guy in New Orleans who could put him up for a day or so. There's more to this story but I'm forgetting it. (For more on Justin Hall, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Hall.)

Hung around the Big Easy for a few years before my sister's husband falls down the stairs and breaks his neck. So I go to spend a year with her until she sells her house. I work at a driving range about five miles from where I stayed. Nothing really happens, just looking after the sister.

Then 9/11 comes along and the golf business goes south. So do I. Back to New Orleans, but this time it's different. I can't give a lesson away. Before, all I had to do was show up and I'd soon be making money giving lessons. It was a very strange feeling, like "What's going on here?"

I then get an inner prompting to read books about saints and theology, and begin studying the Rosary. Goodtime Charlie has a Rosary, hmmm.

I've always followed my inner promptings, no matter how strange they may seem at the time. By doing this I've had more than an interesting life.

This - no lessons - goes on for a few months and I'm saying the Rosary every day. I had no religious education and was basically illiterate. This sure was a twist for me.

But I realized that I felt better after saying Rosary and had a better attitude. So I kept it up but with little knowledge why, until the day a pain in my chest came on when I was not exercising. Hmmm, I'd had this before, but it was always while exercising. When it happened then, I slowed down and it went away.

So I called a girlfriend and she tells me to go to hospital, which I do, figuring I will get some of those pills you see people in movies slip under their tongue when they're having chest pains. The next thing you know I'm lying naked on a steel cart with some guy telling me either I get a triple-bypass operation or I'll die in a few weeks.

They sawed me open and did their thing, then put me back together again. I woke up with all these tubes coming out of my nose, mouth, and neck, and all I can think of is to say a Hail Mary. I keep saying it for three days, then I get out of hospital without any complications. I would have freaked without the spiritual help. So like I say, many things are meant to be. But you can't see them until after they're over.

Spent a few months in New Orleans, then go up to Mississippi to housesit for Helen, my first wife. She has a nice place near McComb, about two hours from New Orleans. I started a project of cleaning an old road of brush so I can get my heart rate up like the doctors told me to. Going great until Helen comes back. We are like opposites and see the world differently, so it takes no time for me to get in a huff, pack the car and take off for I have no idea where this time.

I end up in Atlanta because I read there were lots of golfers there, plus I'd never been to the city. And it's Bobby Jones's home state. Augusta National isn't far away. I didn't know anybody and spent weeks going to different courses to find work. Then I get an email from Helen that Bill Martin lives in Atlanta and has a couple of sports bars and I should look him up.

I did. Hadn't seen Bill since 1971 in New Orleans when he managed the Howard Johnson's in Gentilly, where my entire job description was making toast for this guy who could cook eggs faster then you could crack them. That lasted for four or five days and figured a guy with a college degree ought to be able to find something better.

Bill said he had a back room that is not being used and I could stay there for awhile so I could cut down on paying $240 a week at the motel. Ended up staying in that room longer than a week and did some website work for him. While there, I also started the World Players Poker Tour, which is still going strong.

During that time I started working at Hidden Valley Driving Range. Had it going good there for awhile in Atlanta, teaching all these MBA and Law students, including the former dean of the of Law School. I gave Charles Barkley a three-hour lesson last year. Had him hitting it good, too. Everyone who saw what I did for Charles took lessons from me.

Then this year, two pros came in and took over the place from Chip White and they sent me packing. Tried to find a place close by so I could keep my students, but the place I found was just too inconvenient for most of them.

So, now I need to raise some cash. I figure I will see what I can get for Golflesson.com. Did some reaching out with emails and a press release and was contacted by Jeff Shelley.

My Teaching Philosophy & Reflections

Many times I have found that the thing, the idea, that a golfer is working on is the wrong one, and the reason he's not making progress. The assumptions are wrong, not the reasoning. They're in a trick box and can't get out without a key from the outside.

I've watched thousands of people struggle with a wrong idea and the frustration and energy wasted is the result of a bad idea or misconception. For some reason, I just can't sit there once I've identified the problem, so I have to help them. Something inside me.

Over the years, I've met Bob Hope, Monty Hall, Ernie Banks, all kinds of PGA and LPGA Tour players. President Ford, Bob Barker ("Come on down!"), Howard Cosell, and many regular people who I've enjoyed teaching or just chatting with.

After writing this short autobiography, I am wondering what in the heck is going to come of it. Jeff writes a story about me . . . then . . . and then . . . it's hard to believe.

Man, like I said, looking back on things you realize things were meant to be. But you just don't realize it at the time.

Charlie Schaubel can be reached at his website, http://bestdarngolflessons.com . At the time this final installment of Charlie's story was posted, he hadn't sold the domain name and was still in Atlanta giving golf lessons.         

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