One of the biggest Manteca urban legends — if you can call it that — was that the late Alan Thomas was rolling in the money during his 40-year run as the city’s golf pro.
His wife, Marjie Thomas, at Tuesday’s Manteca City Council meeting, countered resurfacing claims that Thomas was benefitting immensely from his contracts with the city over the past four decades.
“It was 13 years ago that we took (our last) vacation,” Thomas said.
She added her husband for the past 13 years drove the same car that he ended up putting 190,000 miles on it.
Thomas said “we lived well” because they “lived frugally.”
Thomas, who has been overseeing the pro shop operation since her husband’s death in February and will do so through July 31, spoke in support of the new golf pro team headed up by Jeff and Geanna DeBenedetti who have partnered with Brent Beck and Wesley Bloodgood who worked with her husband for a combined 31 years.
She essentially admonished anyone who thinks that the new golf pros will instantly turn profits adding that it takes years — and a lot of time beyond what a typical eight-hour job employs — to make a business work. Thomas herself launched her own business — a once popular boutique in downtown known as The Pumpkin Patch — that was located across Maple Avenue from Tipton’s Gifts & Stationery.
Part of the narrative that Thomas was “swimming” in money from his golf pro operations got legs 20 years ago when golf — at least in the world of Manteca politics — was considered a borderline contact sport.
Critics assumed Thomas was somehow ripping the city off when he launched a fairly successful mail-order operation for golf equipment out of the pro shop. The gross sales numbers provided by Thomas to the city as required by the contract so they could get their share were often repeated without taking into account the cost to buy the items he sold as well as to deal with shipping and handling. As a result that lead to the appointment by the council of a citizens committee to literally tear apart the contract and look at the entire golf pro operations under a microscope.
After more than three months of twice a month meetings and spending almost $15,000 in staff time, they could find no evidence of Thomas taking the city to the cleaners. The final report after investing all of the time and money came down to two “scathing” points — the men’s locker room on one visit was found not to be in tip-top tidy shape and a bathroom on the course was in need of repair. Given that the bathroom upgrading was the city’s responsibility, it left paper towels strewn on the locker room floor as the only mar on Thomas’ operating of the golf course.
It should be noted that Thomas not only lived and breathed making golfing at Manteca course a pleasant experience for players but he was largely responsible for it eventually becoming the heaviest used municipal course in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
Parky serving popcorn
& soda at open house
Drop by the Manteca Parks & Recreation office at the Civic Center complex at 252 Magnolias Avenue today or next Thursday, July 27, during two planned open houses from 1 to 4 p.m. each day and the department mascot Parky will provide some treats.
Parky won’t be serving acorns but he will be offering up popcorn and soda as well as free balloons.
It is chance to talk with recreation staff and to find out about programs including what’s on tap for the fall.
The department this summer so far provided more than 1,100 group swim lessons plus 110 private sessions. By summer’s end the number of kids that have taken swimming lessons is expected to surpass 2,000.
The summer camp program is serving 85 youth while upwards of 300 youth have been involved in Tiny Tots sports programs, youth baseball, youth softball, and a youth basketball camp. That is in addition to youth and adults enrolled in various programs ranging from dance, arts, and cooking, to learning how to play guitars and exercise programs.