Ronnie Lott lines up a putt on the 10th hole during Friday’s action at Centennial Golf Club.

Cota-Lott tourney offers way to give back

Count Bobby Anderson as another celebrity who is eager to return to the Chad Cota-Ronnie Lott Celebrity Golf Tournament.

"I am so impressed with Chad and Ronnie and what they're doing here," said Anderson. "And it's obvious that they have the support of the community. It's a great event."

The tournament that benefits area children's groups was played at Centennial Golf Club Friday. It was preceded by a dinner and fundraising auction Thursday, at which former NFL safety Vencie Glenn spoke passionately and appreciatively about the chance to take part.

Celebrity athletes like himself were accustomed to "making plays." Events like this enable them to continue to do so, he said, and he will return for as long as he's wanted.

Most of the athletes and other celebrities are of a similar mind.

I bring up Bobby Anderson for one very good reason: He was in our group, and I needed a subject for this column.

Never heard of him? Yeah, he was something of a mystery to us, too.

We assumed he was best known as the little brother of a former star safety for the Miami Dolphins. But that's only because Bobby Anderson is humble to the bone and didn't let on about his own past unless asked. Even then, he was understated and devoid of braggadocio.

Only after research later did I find that he:

  • Was considered the greatest football player in the history of the University of Colorado at the time he was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos in 1970. That history includes the exploits of Byron "Whizzer" White.
  • Switched from quarterback to running back early in his senior year and rushed for a Liberty Bowl-record 254 yards on 35 carries as the Buffaloes defeated Bear Bryant's Alabama team, 47-33. He also passed for 41 yards and scored three touchdowns.
  • Was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame last year and will be enshrined this summer along with such classmates as Emmitt Smith, Carl Eller, Bruce Smith, Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden.

There's far more to his story, but you get the gist.

When we first met and he was asked if he had a playing career, Anderson said he spent six years with the Broncos, primarily blocking for NFL rushing champion Floyd Little.

When asked about his football highlight, he mentioned picking up an audible as a rookie, following through on a sweep and scoring from 39 yards the first time he touched the ball in a NFL regular-season game.

That's it. The rest had to be dredged up.

Injuries cut short Anderson's career. He had four surgeries in three years — two knees, an ankle and a shoulder — and missed out on Denver's first Super Bowl appearance by one season.

"They busted me up pretty good," said the 59-year-old Anderson, who played at 6-foot, 210 pounds.

While he spoke little of himself, Anderson had some terrific stories to tell about the NFL, regaled us with several golf poems, all long and humorous as we waited to hit, and made a connection with everyone in the group.

One of our teammates, D.L. Richardson, hails from Alabama and needs little prodding to discuss reverently Crimson Tide football. It took less than three holes Friday, at which point Anderson simply said, "How about the 1969 Liberty Bowl."

You played Alabama, asked Richardson.


Against Bear Bryant?


You win?


Anderson couldn't hide a mischievous grin.

Another in our group, Ed Istel, attended Colorado and recently enrolled his son there. It seemed to him that Anderson was heaven-sent — especially after the football star graciously gave him his buffalo headcover at the end of the round. The school mascot is a buffalo.

Neat stuff and part of what makes this tournament unique.

As for golf, Anderson is no slouch. He used to play on the Celebrity Golf Association Tour, then the Celebrity Players Tour. He became friends with Marshall Holman, the Medford bowling great, in those events, and it was Holman who lured Anderson here.

Anderson recalled playing once with Charles Barkley, who is infamous for a, let's say, quirky swing.

"Going into one green," said Anderson, "he hit it sideways about four times before getting it on."

Anderson is a 5 or 6 handicap and doesn't hit as long as he once did, but he showed off a smooth, steady swing that forever kept us out of trouble.

He began playing junior golf at age 8, getting unconventional exposure to the game.

"I grew up shagging balls with a baseball mitt for Hale Irwin," he said of the three-time U.S. Open champion. The two grew up together in Boulder, Colo., and played football at Colorado together.

Anderson had been to Oregon before. His Buffaloes team played the first-ever game at Autzen Stadium, beating Oregon, 17-13, in 1967.

He returned a couple of times during a 29-year stint as Colorado's radio analyst, and it's likely he'll be back here again.

AMBER HAMM ALMOST made a hole-in-one at another charity golf tournament this week, the Access event at Rogue Valley Country Club Monday.

That's not so amazing. What is amazing is that she saw the shot in flight, saw it come to rest about 12 inches from the hole and saw her dream of winning the prize of a trip to Scotland evaporate by that much.

There was a time when she played golf and couldn't see.

"I played in several tournaments and had a really good caddie," said Hamm, who along with her husband, Craig, owns the Ruch Country Store.

Amber Hamm took golf lessons at age 28 through a community college in Coos Bay. But 10 years later, she went blind, the result of three eye diseases.

Twelve years later, at age 50, she had surgery to remove cataracts because, she said, refracting light was causing her to have "horrendous" headaches. The surgery wasn't supposed to restore her vision, which is why everyone, including her doctor, was shocked when she opened her eyes and could see.

"He says I'm his infamous patient," Hamm said of her surgeon, Paul Jorizzo.

She has a scar on the other cornea but was told nothing could be done.

"I said, 'Can't you clone it or something,'" said Hamm. "He said, 'Look, I'm good, but I'm not that good.'"

The Hamms are lucky in golf, too. They learned after the tournament they were one of two winners of big raffle prizes: expense paid trips to Bandon Dunes worth well over $3,000 each.

"I guess it's because of him (Jorizzo) that I'm getting to go," said Hamm.

Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail

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