The Loop

Roller Derby Makes For Good Golf

September 02, 2007

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The idyllic setting along the Monterey Peninsula contrasts starkly with the rough-and-tumble world formerly occupied by one of the senior pros in the field at the Wal-Mart First Tee Open.

Frank Apodaca, who shot a 66 to lead seven qualifiers into the tournament, was a professional roller-derby skater for 27 years with the most famous team in the sport, the Bay City Bombers.

"Lot of broken ribs and busted fingers from hanging on to collars and jerseys," Apodoca said Saturday after his second round. "I was a pivot skater. I'd be in the back blocking people to stop them from scoring. It was hard on the elbows."

Apodaca is 51, and he tried to qualify for the Champions Tour last year but missed by a couple of shots. He plans to give it another try this fall. In the meantime, he works in as many mini-tour appearances as his job with a building supplies company in San Jose, Calif., will allow. Two decades ago, he played in the Los Angeles and San Diego PGA Tour stops.

Apodaca retired from skating four years ago and admits there isn't much similarity between his two sports. "In golf you have to be mentally tough," he said. "In skating you just have to be tough."