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Eugene Lacaillade goes by the name “Lucky,” and many would agree he is. He golfs every day, 355 times in the past year to be exact, making him the second highest-posting SCGA member this last year. Many would love to have that life, but if you ask him, he feels it’s a pretty appropriate name for another reason.
“Boy am I lucky,” says the California Golf & Art CC and Tukwet Canyon Men’s Club member. “I spent 13 months in Vietnam during the war, so yeah, the name rings true.”
Lacaillade spent four years in the Navy, which is actually where the nickname was born. Typically, a few days before each pay day, poker games onboard the ship would start up, and Lacaillade’s fortune during the games was a positive one. “I’d walk around on the deck of the ship and the others would say, ‘there goes Lucky,’” Lacaillade remembers.
His memory is strong. When asked when he began golfing, Lacaillade doesn’t flinch. “June 12, 1994. 10 a.m.,” he says. He was a tow-truck driver at the time, and after cars had been in the impound lot for more than 30 or 40 days, it was his job to take them to the junk yard. On this particular day, Lacaillade checked the back seat of the car before he dumped it. Inside was a 9-iron, so he kept it. However Lacaillade hadn’t spent much time on the course in a while, so at first he just used it to hit tennis balls to a bunch of dogs.
The balls were jumping off the club far better than Lacaillade thought they would. As a 16-year-old, he had caddied at a 9-hole course in New Hampshire, but had stayed at an arm’s length from the game because of his inability to play it well. “I was a normal teenager who thought, ‘if I can’t master this it ain’t worth my time,’” he said. But all of a sudden in that junk yard, the ball was going much farther than he thought it would, inspiring Lacaillade to buy himself a full set of clubs.
He’s been golfing ever since. “I did the smart thing though and took lessons,” said Lacaillade.
Today, he lives in Sun City. He bought a house there 14 years ago, across the street from California Golf & Art CC, and owns his own golf cart. Lacaillade retired last March, which is when he began golfing every day. “I only golf on days ending in ‘Y,’” he jokes.
And surprisingly, the personable Lacaillade prefers to spend those days on the course alone, however it’s something he is working on. “I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, which does cause me to prefer to golf alone,” he said. “But my counselor encourages me to golf with others so I don’t have this big old wall around me, so I’ve begun doing that 3-4 times a week.”
The 12.4 Handicap missed just 10 days of golf last year. “If it’s really, really cold or pouring rain, I take the day off. It’s better for health,” he explains. While he spends most of his time playing at his home course of California Golf & Art, he also enjoys traveling to other area courses, like Journey at Pechanga and The Links at Summerly. But regardless of the course, he has just one piece of advice for fellow golfers. “Don’t get too greedy!” Stay within yourself, and wait for the magic.”