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Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan


Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

MCAS Iwakuni is a mission-ready air station, capable of providing continuous base-operating support for tenant organizations and follow-on U.S. and allied forces during training, combat or contingency (HA/DR) operations throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

By Sgt. Raymie G. Cruz | | October 6, 2000


For 12 years, station residents have been going to Torii Pines golf course to see a guy swing a club.

No, it?s not Tiger Woods, it?s the air station?s own club pro and golf course manager, John Robins.

Although he didn?t start playing as young as Woods, he did start playing at a young age.

When Robins was 13 years old, he got a job as a caddy and it was just a matter of time until he started to play the game.

?It was like on the movie, ?Caddy Shack?,? Robins said. ?When the course was closed on Mondays, the caddies were allowed to go out and play.?

As the Kansas City, Mo., native got older, he answered his calling to join the Marine Corps in 1958.

In 1966, Robins was sent to serve in Vietnam.

Upon his return, he was stationed at Camp Lejeune, where he rediscovered his love of golf and began to play regularly again.  The more he improved, the more serious he got about the game.

?After my first tour in Vietnam, I needed to find a better way to relax.? he said.

Even though Robins was getting time to prepare for what would become a big part of his future, his country called on him once again.

During his 30 years in the Marine Corps, Robins says the Corps never really changed. In all the duty stations he served, he continually worked on his game during his off-duty time.

Due to his hard work and practice on the green, by the time he was a gunnery sergeant, Robins was playing in the All-Marine golf tournaments and did well.

?I usually got through the regionals and made seven out of 12 All-Marine teams,? he said.

Robins continued to play in competitions and ended up winning the All-Marine Golf Tournament in the early ?80s. After winning, Robins knew what his future had in store for him.

?I knew this was going to be my second career, so I started learning to teach,? Robins said. ?At first I started giving tips and that progressed to giving lessons.?

?My original plans were to go to the San Diego Golf Academy and start my career as a club pro,? he said.  ?But the position here opened up, and I?ve been doing it for 12 years.?

Since Robins has been working at Torii Pines, he has started some new programs to get more residents interested in golf.  He has initiated programs inviting all ages and ranks to the golf course to learn the sport.

?I talked to a lot of Marines, and they thought that golf courses in the Marine Corps didn?t want troops there,? he said.  ?Knowing that wasn?t true, I started giving sergeants and below free lessons to get them out there.?

Although the lessons are free for sergeants and below, Robins says they are open to the whole community.

This year alone, the pro has given lessons to more than 130 people.  The number includes children who have participated in one of the two summer golf camps.

Above all, Robins wants the Iwakuni community to know the policies and procedures of the golf course are not meant to discourage people from taking up the game, but to ensure more people get the opportunity.

?My enjoyment is being able to introduce people to the sport,? Robins said.  ?I?ll teach the 10-year-old looking for something else to do or the 50-year-old who wants to take a swing at that little white ball.?