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Around the Foothills

The wealthiest of Glendale lined up at the first tee.

June 23, 1988|DOUG SMITH

Some of the best money can come from some of the worst golf.

This was shown once again Monday in the fifth annual Glendale College Foundation Golf Classic at Oakmont Country Club.

The foundation, which raises private contributions for faculty projects at the college, conceived the event as a way of bringing some of Glendale's biggest contributors together in one of their favorite activities.

It seems to have worked. The classic raised $300,000 in its first four years. This year, with 33 sponsors and 144 golfers--62 of them representing local and national corporations which gave them the day off to play--it netted about $65,000.

The competition, which started at noon and wasn't over until after 6, produced a record low score of 62, shot by a team from Trans Auto Leasing.

But, as usual, the smart money was in the bottom of the field.

That's where Jim Taylor works his magic. Taylor has been the event's co-sponsor for the past three years, sharing the duty with Robert Stevenson, chairman of the Prudential Stevenson Real Estate Services.

Taylor, looking unassuming in sky-blue pants and a slightly mismatched turquoise, fuchsia and navy golf shirt, submitted demurely to an interview before the game, as the contestants gathered for brunch beside the Oakmont pool.

He appeared embarrassed to identify his own expansive title of president, chief executive officer and chairman of Fidelity Federal Savings.

He was much more assertive about his game, which isn't that good.

Taylor confessed that his friend and competitor Ray Edwards, chairman of the board of Glendale Federal Savings, is much more accomplished.

"We work harder than they do, so we're not good golfers," he said, smiling slyly.

Not that he's uncompetitive. He said he hoped to win the three-hole runoff at the end of the day for the worst eight teams.

"The last two years we won the lower flight, which we're very proud of," he said.

He volunteered that he thinks of the golf course less as a field of play than an extension of the corporate board room. Even the Glendale College Classic fits into that strategy.

"Our intention is to help the college," he said. "But in this community, it becomes excellent advertising."

Taylor and Stevenson each put in $7,500 to be sponsors. They also used their influence to line up other contributors.

"I hit all the investment bankers," Taylor said. "I hit the corporate people that we do business with. Our attorney is Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher. I hit them for $5,000.

As a consequence, about noon, the wealthiest and most powerful of Glendale assembled along the rose-lined lawn of the first tee. For a moment, they sat motionless in their 70 golf carts, lined up like covered wagons for the beginning of the Oklahoma Land Rush. Then they whirred away, dispersing to all of the 18 holes.

Taylor and his three associates shared the first tee with Stevenson and his team which included sons Bobbie and Randy.

Taylor had a ringer in Miles Matthews, senior vice president in major loans, who seemed to have fully recovered from his quadruple bypass surgery in March.

He hit long, straight drives and masterminded the team's strategy for the Texas Shotgun rules, in which every golfer plays his team's best drive on each hole.

Taylor had a nagging habit in his swing that caused him to dribble a few of his drives, as he did off the second tee.

Taylor just smiled.

"I told you we work hard. We don't have time to play golf."

He reminisced a moment about his defense against the 1985 hostile takeover bid by Great Western Financial Corp.

"We won that big, or we wouldn't be here today," he said.

They bogeyed the hole. No sooner had they left than Stevenson and sons came along behind them, following their balls onto the green with crisp strides and upbeat chatter.

They let out a cheer when the oldest son sank a long putt. Taylor noticed from over his shoulder.

"I got them started and now they've passed me by," he said, almost sadly. "It's a humbling game."

"You get your first birdie yet?" Stevenson called to Taylor with a beaming face indicating that he had.

The sly smile returned once more to Taylor's face.

"He just happens to be our second largest borrower," he said.

Taylor's team finished second to last, qualifying for the lower-flight runoff, called a horse race because spectators could bet on it like a horse race.

Its rules called for the members of a team to rotate, each playing the previous player's shot. Every shot would count.

Under those conditions, Fidelity didn't match its performance in the hostile takeover. The team showed.

There was no single shot that could be held accountable.

"We're lousy golfers," Taylor said, assessing the defeat.

He won a few bucks anyway, because he bet on his team to win, place or show.

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