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MP3 Joel Ramos - It's Never Too Late

Country music recording artist

4 MP3 Songs
COUNTRY: Modern Country, COUNTRY: Traditional Country

This story happened long ago. But I shall tell it once again...

Well this is J.R. Born August 8th, 1949 in San Antonio Texas.

This is my life history when it comes to golf.

In 1964, I remember showing up in Socorro New Mexico, and I was a hell of a pitcher and didn''t have a good time on the mound. And we were just 14 years old and I remember this Mexican boy said hey... would you like to make some money. Well back then I was so poor just didn''t have a nickel in my pocket and so James Silva said hey let''s go up there and caddy. I didn''t know what "caddy" was I didn''t know golf.

So, we went up to the local golf course and they had "caddy day" and so the pro, what he would do is sling his bag out there on the first tee box and have 15 little boys -- and one was me -- and he would hit a golf ball off the first tee box and he made sure we all knew where the ball was going so somebody would carry his bag, probably James Silva and we''d walk on down the fairway and get to the corner and then he''d ask us okay how far is it from here to the green. Well some of the boy''s who knew golf said: "Oh about 230 yards."

I didn''t know what was going on. I was just following along.

So, as soon as he hit two or three golf balls -- one was on the green, one off the fairway -- and all that good stuff, we''d walk up to the golf ball and he said: "Okay somebody tend to the flag." So, James went up there and tended the flag. You''ve got to make sure that when there''s a golf ball on the green that you didn''t step in the line of the putt. And then we go to the next tee box and he asked somebody else to pick up his bag so I picked up his bag. He made sure, he says: "Joel you have to make sure you get down to the ball before I get there." So I carried the bag all the way down there and he asked me he said: "Well, how far is it to the green"?

I didn''t know. Didn''t know anything about golf.

This is caddy school. They''re teaching you how to Caddy. So I remember Carlos Grieg said it''s about 230 yards to the green. He said: "Well, what do I got a hit"? Lee would say: "Well, how about a two wood"? So, he lined up and hit it.

Long story short, I went to those schools many many times because if you didn''t go to Caddy School on Sunday''s when the Pro''s came in you wouldn''t have a bag. So, I learned how to caddy. Learned how to read greens and clean their clubs, and their golf balls, an all the good stuff. Sunday all the good Pros would come into town and the first thing you did was grab that bag and clean their clubs and watch their ball, ya know... So from there I went on to what they call "Caddy Day."

I really had an urge to play this game, so on Wednesday''s they allowed all the caddy''s on the golf course to play nine holes. I didn''t have any clubs, so for 50 cents I could rent a set of clubs. There''s probably a three iron, a driver and a pitching wedge. I didn''t know anything about the game and we''d go out and play. The low score was the winner of the Caddy Day and he got to pick a club out of the bag, out of the big barrel. These clubs probably go back 30 years.

I got the bug really bad, so I entered Caddy Day all the time and in 3 months I learned how to play golf.

I built up my first set of irons and woods out of winning Caddy Day every Wednesday. I just was a natural athlete, baseball player and the whole thing. So, from there I started practicing hard and I knew what it was going to take for me to become a good golfer. I didn''t have the money to play the game, but I had this urge to play the game.

During the winter time I used too -- when the golf course was closed there was nobody allowed on the golf course -- I used to search through the ponds. I used to crack the ice and look for golf balls. I could not afford to buy golf balls, so I cracked the ice in all the ponds. It was snowing, so I would paint my balls pink and red. I would stand up on the first tee box with a driver and I did not know where that ball was going but I just hit -- 60, 70, 80, 100 golf balls -- because the golf course was closed.

We''re not supposed to be there anyway, I just had this yen to play this game -- so, I did. By myself. And that''s the way I got really good at the game.

Somebody came up to me after I played in a Junior Tournament and I won it! He says you need to qualify for the High School Golf Team. You know, I was good enough for the High School Team but, my freshman year I didn''t have money for clubs. I had the old rickety clubs and stuff. But I really wanted to play.

One of the prerequisites was that you had to have golf shoes. I bought a pair of hush puppies with no spikes on the bottom. And I would tee it up and the Pro would not see the bottom my shoes because if he didn''t see spikes on the bottom of my shoes I''m not going to be a member. So long story short, I ended up buying a pair of golf shoes through caddying.

I didn''t make it on the golf team my 9th grade year. I didn''t have the money. I didn''t have the shoes. I had the clubs. I the game. I could have qualified.

A year past and when I was 14 years old I won the city tournament. I won the Junior City Tournament. Then you know I could not be denied. So Coach Carl Sere said: "I want you to try and qualify for the team."

Our team was not only just full of Mexican boys, they were state high school champions. The whole team was.

So, I kept pursuing. I kept playing. I played Junior Tournaments in the summers. Finally my Sophomore year I went out to qualify for the high school golf team. And AMEN, I made #1. I was the #1 golfer on the golf team my sophomore and junior and senior year.

In my Junior and Senior year I won the Texas High School Golf Championship. Overall medalist, over all of the schools. I was very proud of that.

I graduated from High School and I knew what I want to do.

But, I''ve always been a vocalist. I''ve always sung since I was a little boy. I wanted to carry music with me. So I talked to my High School golf teacher. Carl Sery says: "You know what: I think you can get a scholarship. You''ve won two State Tournaments. Let''s see what we can do."

He called all over the place. I got write ups from Oklahoma State, Texas... I mean probably 20 schools. But, I not only wanted to play golf -- I wanted to sing.

So, we found this school in Eastern New Mexico University, it wasn''t NCAA it was NAIA. I talked to BB Lees and he says: "Yeah, come on down." And all they recruited was State High School Golf Champions. So I went down there, but he said: "You have to qualify, you know, we''ll give you a scholarship but you have to qualify." So, I went in there and I qualified in one weekend. I made #1.

So I made that school my school because Number 1: I wanted to play golf. And Number 2: I wanted to sing.

I played golf for three years for them. I won probably the Abilene Inter-Collegiate and the San Angelo Inter-Collegiate. I was part of the music department.

Then the war came. I talked to my dad. He said "You need to do some time."

So I quit school and I went into the Air Force.

I took my clubs with me. I didn''t think anybody could play golf in the Air Force. It''s not what the Air Force was about. But you know, I went to the Pro Shop and I met this guy named Roger Douglas (i.e. today Roger Douglas Sports Equipment) in Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, Texas. I teed it up there and I played with the head pro. He said: "You know what? The Air Force has a Golf Team. If you''d like to try out for it, they''re pretty strong."

I thought "strong," there''s no way anybody could beat me.

Well, I found out different. But, I did end up qualifying for the team. I was First Man in the Air Force for almost three years. I went to Vietnam. I got hurt there. Came back here.

If I can stop a little bit here, and just go back in 1966... I caddied for Lee Trevino.

I missed Caddy School that one day. If you miss Caddy School you''re not going to get a bag. So, I talked to Lee Olson. He said: "You''re going to caddy, but your not going to get the big bags" -- big bags are money bags -- "You''re going to make a lot of money with them." I was poor and I wanted that big bag. So he said: "We got the one young guy coming out of El Paso Texas. He''s going to show up. He just won the Texas Open for Assistant Pros -- not the Texas Open. You can caddy for him."

I waited around and sure enough this poor little fat Mexican with a Spalding bag with with 8 clubs. I remember his driver was wrapped around with masking tape actually black tape. Back then we used to have whipping we used to whip the things but now there''s no whipping anymore. His clubs were decrepit and as he was. I thought he was drunk. He says: "Show me the first tee box." So I did.

I was so amazed with this guy. Everywhere I told him to hit it, he would hit it. The guy, every time he hit a wedge he was two foot away from the hole. He''s never seen this golf course before, and I remember him shooting a 64 during that day...

He says: "Do you play golf"?

I said: "Yes, I''m on the Golf Team."

He said: "Well, take my club. Let''s hit some balls."

And that''s unheard of. Most of the Pros come to play their tournaments. All you have to do is just caddy for them. But this guy actually let me play golf with him.. and the guy shot 8 or 9 under par for 18 holes. And I got to play with him. The last 9 holes. I was 16 years old, and remember this... he shot 32 and I shot 32 with his golf clubs.

So we made friends and I remember the guy drank a lot and I think that''s the only thing that stopped him from winning. It was a three day tournament and he shot 71 - 71 - 71. I caddied for him. At the end of the day I was looking for my money. I was really amazed by this guy''s golf game. He turned out to be my Mentor... He said: "You know what? I have a pair of golf shoes." They were green and white patent leather.

He says: "Will you take this in payment"?

I said no, I need some money.

So he gave me his shoes. He gave me a hundred dollars and then he left.

Well, long story short, we used to travel as a golf team to El Paso and I found out he was the Assistant Pro there. Plus he worked on the range and he repaired clubs and he repaired the machinery and all that good stuff.

When I saw him, he always called me Joey.

He said: "Are you here for the tournament"?

I said: "Yeah."

He said: Well, why don''t you win it!"

I didn''t win it but I did pretty good. This guy became my mentor. That was 1967.

1966 was when he qualified for the US Open for the first time. I''m sitting in front of the TV set. After caddying for this guy, and then going to play his tournament as a High School guy, and then watching him on TV... he came in 2nd on the US Open. Just amazing! So I made this guy my mentor. I kept on going back to El Paso and playing tournaments and stuff. And here I had won the Texas High School Golf Championship. I wanted to hang with him, but he wouldn''t. He was always on Tour,

So, I went to College at Eastern, and always kept in touch with him. Did pretty good. Made All American in College at a small University. The war came and I went to him and I said: "Lee, when I get, if I get back, I want to work for you." He says: "You know what if you get back, I''ll hire you."

So, this is 1970. In 1976 I got out of service.

I took my wife and my two young boys to El Paso Country Club. He was there and he still recognized me. I walked up with my wife and my two boys and diapers, and said: "Lee do you remember me"?

He said: "Yeah, I remember you."

I said: "You know I want to work for you."

He said they were going to have a 36 hole golf course. He said I needed to go talk to Donnie Sonora. So I talked to Donnie Sonora. I remember this is the guy. I used to play against him in High School. He was head assistant Pro. He says: "We don''t have anything for you." I said: "Well, Lee Trevino sent me up here." He said: "Okay. Fine." So, they all got together and said you know what? Let him run the range and I''ll teach him how to repair golf clubs. So that''s what I did and Lee Trevino used to come in every Monday, from the big tour right on TV and we''d play every Monday.

He said, don''t feel bad about not being one of my Pros. He said your game is going to get so good your going to hit golf balls because you run the golf range and your repairing golf clubs. And I remember when he won the Colonial Open, he flew two wedges in, I repaired them and he won the Tournament. So, anyway I stayed there for a year and a half, graduated from school. I said: "Lee Trevino, I want to go on tour with you." He said: "I can''t sponsor you. I really can''t. But I can get you some sponsor''s exemptions.

So, when I was in the Air Force I attracted three Mexican guys and they wanted to put money up for me. So, we did we did, I went out and played the Tucson Open, I played the Phoenix Open but, I didn''t make any money. Where I made my money was on the Minor Tours. They used to call us rabbits back then, on Monday''s we used to try to qualify to get in.

So, that''s the way I got involved in my Professional Golf. I never made it on the big Tour. I went to Tour School. I missed it by a couple of strokes. Always struggling.

I remember Lee Trevino told me, you know, you never should have gotten married. You should have kept pursuing the way you did when you were a little boy in High School and College, you were a winner. But now you have a family. My wife wanted me to stay home and be the head Pro in Socorro, New Mexico, but I didn''t. I''m a player, always wanted to be on stage. That''s the way my game was. So, I lost my wife.

In 1978, I traveled to Southern California. Lost track of Lee Trevino. Lost my sponsors. They didn''t want to give out any money anymore. I played the California Open, and the Southern California PGA. Made a little bit of money but nothing really, you know.

In 1978, I am in Ventura County, my mom was living here and I spent a week with my mom.

She said: "Aren''t you going to go out and play some golf"?

I said: "You know mom, I don''t even want to look at a stick again."

She said: "Go on out there."

So I did. I went out there to a local golf course. I paid my green fees. I ran into this old guy who could really play the game. He said: Are you a professional golfer"? I said: "No, not anymore. I used to play.

He said: You know what? Do you need a job"?

I said: "Yes, I need a job.

He said: "Look, follow me to the silver cave driving range."

So I did. He introduced me to the guy who owns the driving range. Gave him my credentials.

So I taught all summer, made pretty good money, my game was pretty good but I had no where to go. In the winter time, come November, I said: "I''ve got to get a job."

Even though I graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Criminal Justice, I had no teaching degree, all I had ever been was a golfer.

So I saw this job in the paper, it said: "Truck Driver. Will Train. $4.00 per hour.

I went there and interviewed with this guy. I was in my golf clothes. He found out I had a degree in Criminal Justice. He was an ex-policeman. He said: "You know what? I''ll hire you."

So he sent me out to the docks. I met this one guy named Gary Owens. He said: "I''ll teach you how to drive this truck."

So I ended up there for a year. I needed to make more money. I started hauling gasoline, and Jet Fuel.

So, I''ve been a Truck Driver out here in California for almost 25-30 years.

I have always maintained a really solid game of golf.

Like I said: "I''ve always been a singer."

If I can back track a little bit... I always remember when I was a little boy I used to walk into the church and turn on the microphone and sing Christmas music during the summer. I''ve always liked the way it sounded. I''ve always been a singer it''s always been in my heart.

So, back track all the way to here. After driving a truck for many years, and going through a couple of divorces...

In 1991, my wife told me, she said: "Why don''t you go to Mexico and play." So I did.

I went down there with a whole bunch of Pros and the Mexican Government was paying us... Free just to show up. I won plenty of money down there, but it was just a vacation, not enough to take care of a family. Came back here to the State''s. Driving a truck and all the good stuff.

I remember in 1996 in walked into a honky-tonk with a girl I really didn''t like. And this guy was destroying Merle Haggard''s music. She said: "If you can do it any better, why don''t you get up there"?

I stayed mum, but she slipped a not to the head singer. He said: Who''s J.R."?

So this girl next to me said: "Can you do some Merle."

I said: "Yes I can do it."

So I got up there and sang and never left the stage again.

I''ve been singing off and on since 1996-1997.

In 2006 I was fortunate enough to go to Nashville to record some music. Here in January 2007 it''s playing in about six different states.

I''ve been teaching golf at the Port Hueneme Base for about a year and a half. They brought a new Pro and asked if I was credentialed. I said no. All I have is 40 something years. He said: "Well, I can''t let you teach." So, I plan on going to the PGA qualifying school to learn how to teach.

My fiancé Tammy Briant -- who is the Executive Produce of all my music -- looked up on the Internet and there are PGA qualifying teaching school''s all over the United States.

In April 2007 I will get my credentials and hopefully start teaching golf -- get my game back again. I''m 57 years old. I can still play this game and can earn some money doing it.

My goal now is to sing on stage, record music, play professional golf and teach.

And that''s my story.

1. Take care of my fiancé who recently has invested in recording my new music CD. 2. Get back to my game. Get on the Seniors Tour.

You know it would be so lovely for me to teach golf in the day, play a couple of golf tournaments, and entertain people in the evenings.

I will never stop singing. I will never put my clubs down. These are my passions.

Joel Ramos
April 2007

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