Stories By Mike Aymar

Act 1

I met Marty in the late 70’s or early 80’s.  We all played racquetball at the Supreme Court in Sunnyvale.

Marty and his buddies from Sunnyvale Parks and Rec, myself and buddies from Intel (including Dave House), and a few others.  We played at 6am, because it was off prime time, so cheap.  We didn’t even pay for towels at 50 cents each, but brought our own.  The first hair dryer at our club was one of those hand dryers you find in old gas stations that was mounted high enough on the wall to allow us to get our heads under it, at least until it started sparking and no one trusted it.  You get the picture.

Marty was a nice guy, but hadn’t quite turned into the Mayor yet.  Still, he was making friendships and building his rolodex (more on that later).  Our friendship was pretty shallow for those early years.  All we knew about each other was a first name and phone number and probably where we worked.  However, Marty periodically asked me if I wanted to play golf, and by the time I said yes he had joined SHGCC.  I showed up in the early 90’s with a set of golf clubs purchased used at Palo Alto Muni in 1971 or so with the help of my college roommate (more on that later).  Included in my ‘tools’ was a glove and some balls that were the same age.  Marty was aghast but didn’t give up on me.

From that point our friendship grew over the following years as we golfed all over the world, and then focused more on the west coast from Oregon to Arizona, and points in between.

So, Marty’s and my relationship took time to evolve, unlike others that happened almost spontaneously, like a lightning bolt.  Doesn’t matter though, since we all treasured our relationships with Marty, no matter how they started.  And the thing is, we all felt like our personal relationship was unique and special.  Today we are being reminded of how many of us there are!

So, today I am going to share a small number of stories collected from many SHGCC members that hopefully represent Marty.  These aren’t my unique stories, but a sort of curated selection of many stories, more than we have time today to tell.

                                                            Act II

As you have already heard, Marty was an expert at fixing problems created by members of the various groups he ran with – at restaurants, hotels, and golf courses.

Here’s another story that sheds light on how he made things happen.  Marty and I and two other golfers had traveled to Scottsdale for some golf.  Using his ability to get magical things done he was able to get us a tee time at a prestigious golf course (at least in the minds of its members).  He had contacted an old club pro friend in the area who wrangled us an invitation at no charge, and then the remaining usual unescorted guest rules applied and we had to take caddies, as well as a forecaddie.  Well, our two playing  companions were not doing well and decided that it was largely their caddy’s fault.  So they fired the caddy at the turn.  This created significant problems.  So in jumped Marty and fixed it.  He paid the fired caddy the regular fee with a large tip, then spread additional tips and apologies all over the place.  Additionally, he had to fall on his sword with the local pro who had arranged the round for us.

While he wasn’t happy about this, he knew that only he could fix things and it pretty much had a happy ending for all of the participants.  But it did keep him very busy what he was best at!

                                                            Act III

Another attribute of Marty’s was his commitment to treating the hard working blue collar staff well.  Having grown up in a less than wealthy area of Chicago, and having to work if he wanted spending money, his heart was in the right place for sure.  Amongst his jobs was lifeguarding at a Chicago beach – yes, Chicago has beaches on Lake Michigan.  Not the Pacific Ocean.  A side story of the lifeguarding job was Marty’s frequent reminder that Larry Ellison was also a life guard there.  Not sure if they ever met though.

In any event, Marty was a generous tipper to the behind the scenes workers who probably weren’t being paid what they were worth.  At the club, rules didn’t allow tipping of these folks, such as the cart barn kids, or the kids who carried your clubs to and from your car, or the caddies, and so forth.  So, he would get the job done by walking up to one of these folks with a $5 or $10 bill in his hand, making it clear that he understood that tipping wasn’t allowed, but that he found the bill in his hand laying on the ground.  He would say he didn’t know what to do with it, so he was giving it to the staff member and making it clear that the worker should keep it, pointing out that it wasn’t his to keep.

                                                            Act IV

Marty was never nervous about meeting someone at the top of their field, such as a CEO or pro golfer or whatever.  He was professional and respectful, but rarely flustered.

On the course, he had various relationships and interactions with PGA tour golfers, with some humorous outcomes.

A couple of these happened locally at the First Tee Champions Tour tournament.

One of these pros was John Bland, from South Africa, whom Marty had met during a pro/am on the east coast.  Marty arranged to play with John during the initial First Tee tournament in 2004.  The banter between John and Marty was quite entertaining, and at one point, John admonished Marty by saying, “Marty, I am the pro here you know.  Just look at my bag, my name is on it!”.

Among the many other pros he has played with was the roommate I mentioned earlier, who happens to be Tom Watson.  We were playing with Tom in a practice round and after teeing off, as we walked down the fairway and got to Marty’s ball, Tom bent over and exclaimed, “Who the hell is playing a Noodle?”.  We all almost collapsed laughing, since Marty’s go-to ball was the Noodle, at the time manufactured by Maxfli, and was known as a “rock” and also for its affordability.  And the best part is that these attributes were perfectly aligned with Marty’s preference in a golf ball!

                                                            Act V

A couple of stories from Jim Knipp, the head pro at SHGCC during Marty’s membership.  They are representative of Marty’s approach where he viewed official rules or behavior more as suggestions rather than hard fast rules.

About 1993, a group of 8 Sharon golfers went on a Golf Trip to Ireland.  Marty Ruberry, Bobby Paul, Ed Sarraille, Noel Kile, Herb Martin, Mick Humphreys, Mal Lynch, and Jim Knipp, the Pro. The group had a gentleman by the name of Warren who was assigned to our Club, Sharon Heights, by the Travel Group.  Warren’s responsibilities included organizing the welcome cocktail party, busing us all over Ireland to the many courses we played and arranging dinners and any other tee times we might be needing.   On the day of our arrival in Ireland we played Tralee Golf Course.  Warren stayed behind at the hotel to prepare our welcome cocktail party and dinner.  On the way back from Tralee to the hotel for the welcome cocktail party and dinner, we spotted a pub with the name “M Lynches.”  Since we had Mal Lynch in our group, we couldn’t not stop for 1 quick Guinness.    After about an hour, Marty called Warren to say we were running late, but would be on our way shortly.  Warren thought he was in charge and said he would appreciate it if we could be there soon as dinner was being prepared.    Another hour passed and Marty called Warren to explain that it was unlikely we could make the welcome party.  Warren was not happy.  We finally made it back to the hotel, missing dinner & welcome party.   The next day, Warren was going over the day’s schedule and Marty said, “That’s good, Warren still thinks he’s in charge”

In the O’l Buddy Tournament one year, Marty may have stayed in the men’s grill too long after round one of the tournaments and he told me to give him the 18A tee assignment for the 8:30 a.m. shotgun the next morning.  The tournament leaders are assigned 1A & 1B.   I put Marty and his group on tee #18A.  I learned that 18A was actually 1C.  You can show up 15 minutes late and tee off hole #1.   The perfect tee assignment. 

                                                                        Act VI

We are all familiar with Marty’s ability to get us tickets or considerations in certain areas.  Tickets for games, plays or concerts. Help with getting our children into college or their first jobs.  Introductions and meetings with potential business partners.  And, most importantly, getting us onto golf courses that would normally be completely out of our ability to access.

He was with a group, with Tom Jones and others, at a Michigan home football game and managed to allow the group to be able to run on the field with the team and watch the game from down on the field.

If he wasn’t able to get a particular ticket so coveted by one of our kids he knew where to go.  Back when Paul West had a relationship with Justin Bieber and my granddaughter wanted a back stage pass, Paul became her hero!  And it all began with Marty’s ability to make magic happen, often through someone in his network.

Even when problems occurred and something didn’t work out as planned, Marty turned lemons into lemonade.  For example he had setup a round at Cypress Point for Dave House and some buddies.  This is typically considered as one of the more difficult feats to get done, even for our respected MPCC attendees!  Well, at the last minute Dave had to back out, so did Marty mope and complain about how hard it might have been to get it done?  No, he simply invited a group which included Deanna Jones, Cindy Sommers, and Mary Brislin, and they all had the time of their lives.  Another memory of a lifetime for sure!  BTW, I got this story from Deanna Jones, not Dave House!!!

Which makes me wonder.  Was I the first intended recipient of some of the things I had mentioned I would like to do, or one of the backup recipients?  Aw hell, it doesn’t matter, he made people happy so often, getting things for them they never thought possible.

Over the years Marty created quite a legacy of granted wishes, and while he could have asked for so much in return, most of these were never compensated in return, only because he never asked. 

Wouldn’t each of use love to have access to all those debts he collected, but we’ll never know, because he took them all with him.

                                                            Act VII

A wonderful thing happened for the golfers at SHGCC, or at least those that played with Marty.  He showed he was able to change water into beer (or pretty much whatever you wanted).

He worked out a deal with a few of his friends who lived on the course, and they would put coolers with beer or whatever inside the gate leading from their back yards to the course.  In return, Marty would have bottled water placed on their front porches.  Simple but still impressive.  Way ahead of his time is setting up way stations just about anywhere on a golf course where a player could pick up a quick drink.

A truly symbiotic relationship, and as close to alchemy that anyone has ever gotten.  Water to Beer!

                                                            Act VIII

A number of stories I received back from SHGCC members on how and where they met Marty are so similar.

Many happened on the driving range, where Marty would walk around and greet people.  Early on he was introducing himself to everyone, but later he would stop and talk to members he knew and ask about their families in incredible detail.  At the same time, if he was meeting a member, maybe a brand new member, for the first time, he would tell that person about himself, and then proceed to ask about family members and backgrounds, and start building his database on another new member.

Many members also credited Marty with introducing them into groups of golfers that they play with until this day, as well as introducing them to many who became their close personal friends on and off the course.

                                                                        Act IX

As an engineer, I have often wondered about Marty’s ability to recall so much personal information about each of us.  Certainly, most of it was just the way his mind must have worked and what motivated him.  He did have tools that he used to help accomplish this, however.

In the early days, before computers, he relied on a tried and true method.  He created a rolodex of all his acquaintances which must have included all those names of spouse, children, etc., as well as notable facts about each, such as colleges attended and birth days.  He augmented this with his use of yellow post it notes, reminding him to call so and so to say happy birthday, or followup on a request for tickets, and so forth.  He then stuck these post it notes anywhere he could find space as reminders.  His other technique was to use the good old postal service to send thankyou notes, birthday greetings, and so forth.  Pretty typical for the 70’s.

Then email and PC’s happened.  Marty appeared to have embraced technology.  But wait.  He would make handwritten notes on emails printed out by his admin, and then his admin, using Marty’s email account would type in these replies.  I am assuming things like thankyou and happy BD emails were also done the same way.  The foundation was still a rolodex and post it notes but delivered with more modern methods!

Then he retired, and spent quite a bit of time every day on his computer in the office typing his own emails, managing his own calendar and so forth.  This was quite an accomplishment, but the impressive rolodex and proliferation of post it notes still contributed in a substantial way.  He managed a very complicated desk with a computer and post it notes all over the place, and the ever present rolodex.

A wonderful melding of old school and new school social networking tools!!  But don’t be confused, his skill and motivation was still based on his inherent capabilities to remember so much about each of us.

                                                            Act X

­The Two Fairway Rule – I think this is being included in Dave’s eulogy, so will only include a story about that should it not make the cut for the eulogy.  Definitely a story that should be told somewhere.

                                                            Act XI

The finale.

So how would Marty have ended this celebration of his life?  I think he might have suggested what he and Mary often suggested in the past at the end of a celebration.  I think he would have us all jump in our cars and move the party to a section of the beach just south of Pt Joe to watch the sunset.  Not very practical, given the parking challenge for that many cars, but there is a major precedent.

After playing in a golf tournament, or maybe just a friendly match, a small group might collect at Mary and Marty’s home, have a drink, and maybe some hors d’oeuvres.  Often Mary or Marty would say something like “let’s move this party to the beach”, and we would jump in a car or two and off we would go.

Kind of like this picture of a group of us during one of these spontaneous events!

Mike Aymar

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