If a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, Jeff Okun has a lot to say. Before coronavirus hit, Jeff used to sneak away two or three times a year on photographic safaris to far flung lands.
Like the rest of us, Jeff also devotes a lot of time and energy to improving his golf game. He joined Redhawk Men’s Club about 10 years ago so that he could “have a regular group of guys to play with.” Over the course of that time his upbeat demeanor, scraggly beard and sandal golf shoes have become a familiar sight at Redhawk and throughout the Temecula Valley.
In between rounds of golf, Jeff estimates he’s been to dozens of countries scattered across five continents over the last couple of decades. His passport documents trips to North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia but he has yet to make it to Australia and Antarctica. Jeff assures me that these last two of the seven continents are on his bucket list. Memorable stops include trips to the Ethiopian tribal lands and Bhutan, a bio-diverse kingdom sandwiched between Nepal, India and China in the Himalayas. “The people there are so beautiful,” he said. “It’s such an interesting place.” To see for yourself go to jeffokun.com. “I never met Indiana Jones but I saw a lot of people who look like him,” Jeff said. This year he was supposed to go to North Vietnam but travel restrictions related to Covid have made it tough.
A child of the 1950s and duck and cover drills, Jeff grew up in Lompoc on the Central Coast. His dad was a civilian employee at Vandenberg Air Force Base. He’s seen and heard countless missiles take off – some not so successfully – ranging from Atlas and Thor to Titan. “That was a lot of fun,” he recalls.
Before regular golf and travel, Jeff had a career that covered 40 years. Anybody care to guess?
1.) Shoe salesman
2.) Computer tech
3.) City Planner
4.) School district supervisor.
If you picked 3 and 4, give yourself an A-plus.
Jeff estimated he has a hand in building more than three dozen school facilities. At one time as an assistant superintendent in charge of facilities, Jeff’s signature was worth millions of dollars on purchase orders and requisitions. “It used to be worth something,” he jokes. “But the day after I retired 10 years ago, it was worth nothing.”
His most exciting moment on the golf course (other than Cherrington throwing clubs at people): The time a large pine tree fell on the white tee on hole no. 6 at Redhawk, normally the tee they play from. That day he was playing from the nearby blue tees. A little too close for comfort, I guess. Jeff is equally proud of his Hole in One in 2016 on Hole #4.
You now know a little more about Jeff Okun. What player profile will be next? Stay Tuned.
This Month's Player Profile
Steve Patterson had done it his way for the better part of seven decades. Whether it was in the music studio, business or on the golf course, Steve has carved a uniquely interesting path.
Take his golf swing for example. Steve said the staccato, slap shot swing may look strange but it evolved from necessity. After blowing out his knee playing high level tennis, Steve tried to pick up golf. But after dozens of buckets of balls and bloody hands on the range he was not getting any better. So, Steve reverted to what had served him well in the past: tennis. He developed a hybrid swing that combines the best of both sports. “It’s a cross-court, top-spin forehand,” he explains. When Steve is on the top of his single-digit handicap game, the ball goes a long way. Trust me. He is not sure how it all works and doesn’t even want to see how he does it. “I refuse to watch a video of me hitting a golf club,” he said.
Steve also learned at an early age he had a little talent for music. In high school he played guitar in bands that featured the surf sound of the Beach Boys and later evolved into the Beatles. With long hair and an attitude befitting the 1960s, Steve left home after graduating from high school and never looked back. “I’ve been on my own ever since,” he said. His band, ironically named Freedom, played in beach clubs from Manhattan Beach to Santa Barbara. They would “play for the door,” and get paid from the $1 cover collected at the club’s entrance. Attracting 500 to 600 people, four nights a week, it was a good living. “I was making more money than my parents,” Steve said. The band was good but never good enough to score that all important record deal. “We thought we were a lot better than we were,” he recalls. The band eventually broke up as members got married, had kids and had to get a real job. After a short stint producing music for other groups, Steve went to work selling steel products for a couple of different companies.
In 1983 his dad asked him to join a company he and a group of investors had created to sell wheels and casters, the things that allow the food industry, hospitals and hotels to move things around. Under Steve’s guidance South El Monte-based Linco Casters & Industrial Supply computerized and became the first distributor to import wheels and casters from China. Steve’s dad died in 2003 and left the business to Steve and his sister Lorna, an actress who appeared in “Airplane!” and the TV spinoff “Private Benjamin “. But a decade later Steve saw that the business was changing. The personal touch was gone and sales were increasingly being handled online. That’s when he decided to let his two college educated sons take the reins. “Stepping back was the best decision I ever made,” he said.
Monthly sales now are up more than 60 percent and Linco’s internet presence is “huge,” according to Steve. “We are now selling on Amazon.”
Steve moved to Temecula a half dozen years ago and lives on the left side of the fairway on Hole No. 14 at Redhawk. He usually plays golf three times a week, and goes into the office about the same number of days. “The only reason I do it is because I enjoy it “, he said. “I have a big office but I don’t do anything.” His two sons have everything under control. “I’m still president but I’m irrelevant.”
He is still true to his rock’n roll roots. He has a music room in his home where he keeps a small collection of guitars, he plays every single day.
“I’ve been having a ball,” Steve said.