Ex-caddy plays host to ‘Gilroy Cowboy’ as head pro at Coyote Creek Golf Club

George

The Gilroy Cowboy

Archer rode into town last week for the first-annual Siebel
Classic in Silicon Valley
– returning to his old stomping grounds to not only play another
Senior PGA Tour event, but visit with some family and old
friends.
By SCOTT FORSTNER

SAN JOSE – George “The Gilroy Cowboy” Archer rode into town last week for the first-annual Siebel Classic in Silicon Valley – returning to his old stomping grounds to not only play another Senior PGA Tour event, but visit with some family and old friends.

From 1963 to 1988, the six-foot-six senior professional Archer – who was born in San Francisco and grew up around San Mateo – lived in Gilroy so the trip to Santa Clara County was a homecoming of sorts. Although he played a half-hour north at Coyote Creek Golf Club in South San Jose, Archer stayed in the garlic capital with his daughter Lynn and two grandchildren.

While Archer struggled through three challenging rounds of the Siebel Classic – finishing tied for 48th place after shooting 76-76-72 (224 total) for a purse of $4,620 – there was one person just happy to see him out and about. Steve Janisch, Head Professional at Coyote Creek, was pulling for his long-time companion and the man he caddied for from 1979-1984.

“He was my mentor. Not only did I caddy for him, we used to play a lot of golf and practice a lot together,” said Janisch, who was an 18-year-old golf fanatic when Archer took him under his wing. “We’d go hit balls at the old Gilroy Golf Course together. We used to play a lot of golf at Gilroy and Bolado Park and in Hollister. As far as the major influence in my golf game, George was the guy.”

For five years, Janisch carried Archer’s bag through the west coast swing of the PGA Tour and even accompanied him to New Orleans and Dallas one year.

“It was an experience I’d never pass up again. People have asked me, ‘would you do it the same way?’ and I’ve said I would. I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything,” Janisch said. “Just being around some of the great players. He played with the likes of Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino. So to be able to watch these great players, you can’t help but learn. It was fun. It was enjoyable, but it was a great learning experience for me.”

Archer – whose best finish of the 2001 Senior PGA Tour was 22nd place at the Toshiba Senior Classic – was welcomed by Janisch to Coyote Creek last Monday when he registered and putted a little bit. The next day, Archer came out to shoot a practice round. After passing on Wednesday’s pro-am event, Archer shot a 70 in the pro-am championship the following morning.

“It’s a hard golf course, just look at the scores everyone is shooting,” said Archer of Coyote Creek. “They are building a lot of hard golf course out here.”

With aspirations of turning pro himself, Janisch stopped caddying for Archer in 1983 and went on out on his own – but the two have made it a habit of meeting for a round of golf every year to catch up on things.

“We definitely tried to stay in touch over the years. We try to get together and play golf at lease once or twice a year. As my career has moved around, he’s come down to San Juan Oaks and then Eagle Ridge and now here,” Janisch said. “So obviously it’s neat for me and special for me to be the head golf professional here and now he’s playing a venue here.”

When Archer was playing the PGA Tour – where he claimed 12 tournament victories and racked up over $1.8 million in prize money – Janisch sat back, watched and learned a great deal. One of the most memorable rounds he caddied for Archer came in the 1983 Los Angeles Open at Rancho Park. After Archer completed the first two rounds with a two-over par and unexpectedly made the cut, he rallied in the third round and shot a 10-under par to claim third place.

“It was just one of those magical rounds and it could have been a couple of shots lower if he lips out a couple of birdies…. It was one of those marvelous rounds to witness,” Janisch said. “When I was caddying for George, he’s the type of pro that does a lot of his own work out there…. Just carry the bag and keep the clubs clean.”

The two shared a scary moment in 1982 that neither one has forgotten to this day. On a rainy day heading to Los Angeles from Tucson for a tournament, Archer drove his Cadillac with Janisch in the passenger’s seat. All of sudden, they were spinning out of control in circles across Highway 5.

“We were like is this thing hydroplaning or what? Next thing you know, we’re doing some loopy-di-loos down Highway 5 over five lanes of traffic,” Janisch said. “George is handling it beautifully and we just kind of bump up against the barrier. He kind of stops, restarts the car and off we go and down the road and into the hotel room from there.”

“We spun donuts. It scared the hell out of both of us. We were hydroplaning. I got new tires the next week,” said Archer, who was not surprised to see his former caddy in the position he is today. “I knew Steve always liked golf.”

And Janisch was still appreciative for the time he spent by Archer’s side.

“George will probably go down in history as one of the best putters of all-time. He handles the putter very well and I learned a lot about putting and reading greens from him. I really tried to mimic him and copy his style,” said Janisch, who was pulling for Archer at Coyote Creek. “If I had my druthers, it would be either him or Nicklaus winning here this week.”

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