BILLINGS - It's hard to beat a day on the golf course even under chilly conditions, which was the case when MTN Sports recently visited with Bob Eames just off the 18th hole at Yellowstone Country Club. It's a course he's called home for a lot of years on the way to his Montana State Golf Association Hall of Fame induction this July.
“I really enjoyed teaching," Eames said reflecting on a 52-year career in the business, most notably his final years as YCC's Head Golf Professional.
Eames spent most — if not all—of his life this on course, playing or working as an assistant. He earned his first job here in 1969 before eventually becoming the club's head pro. In between, he also spent several years in the same position at The Briarwood in Billings.
Truth is, the job was often all work and little play.
"As a golf professional, I know a lot (of people) think you play or practice all the time. I know the last year that I was at Yellowstone, I posted 13 rounds for the whole year," Eames said.
He finally called it a career on New Year's Eve of 2019. Just in time for the pandemic.
His retirement scorecard didn’t exactly reward him as planned. Barely two years in, Eames, who regularly smoked cigarettes, is now on full time oxygen.
"You see this on me?" he said, referencing an oxygen tube running down the front of his pullover, "...for all the people that are watching - particularly the younger people watching that are smoking - get that cigarette out of your mouth, doggonit!
“All this time that I was looking forward to retirement so I could play a lot of golf, it just didn't come to fruition for me."
This July, however, all those days at the course — sunny, windy, rainy, and even at times snow covered — will come back to reward Eames. After giving over five decades to the game and the amateurs he instructed, he’ll be inducted to the Montana State Golf Association Hall of Fame during the Women’s State Am at Lake Hills Golf Course.
“When you work hard to achieve something, you should be rewarded for it. I didn't work hard," Eames said, deflecting credit. "I went to my place of employment and I enjoyed myself for 52 years.
"But my wife has been the rock behind me when I worked and she is so good at taking care of me right now."
Eames is also quick and truly sincere in pointing out that little of his success, especially this summer's hall of fame induction, wouldn't have been possible without help from his mentor, the late Paul Allen who was YCC's first head professional.
For as much as Eames has given the game, he says golf has given back exponentially.
"It gave me an appreciation of service, and how can I serve the members of Yellowstone Country Club?"
That pot of gold suddenly looks a lot brighter, as this summer Bob Eames finishes on top of golf's leaderboard.