From LACC to U.S. Open, they are attending to every matter

From LACC to U.S. Open, they are attending to every matter

Jose Ochoa wanted to learn to play golf but didn’t have the money for lessons.

That didn’t dissuade the industrious young man. Ochoa would spend hours on the driving range at Rancho Park, eavesdropping on others getting lessons and quietly taking notes.

“I taught myself to play, and I got pretty good,” said Ochoa, 64, head locker room attendant at Los Angeles Country Club, a place he has worked since 1982. He plays only a couple times a year these days, but at his peak he shot a 74 on the North Course, site of this week’s U.S. Open.

Ochoa and his team of six other attendants work from daybreak until late night, doing laundry, polishing golf shoes, providing Open competitors with whatever they need — just as they do with LACC members during any other week.

Raised on a family farm near Guadalajara, Mexico, Ochoa has seven sisters and three brothers, one of whom, Juan, is a caddie at the club.

Like a bartender at a neighborhood joint, Ochoa is — as much as anything — a sounding board, psychologist and friend.

“I don’t come to work here,” he said. “I come here to have fun. This is nothing for me. I have a relationship with all the members and their families.”

Essential to his job is his unshakable memory.

“Ah,” he said. “It’s the only thing God gave me. Faces and names. I can meet you today, and I can see you in five years, and as soon as I see your face, your name comes to my mind right away.”

As for this week? Unforgettable.