Article from venturacountystar.com, September 10, 2008
Osbourne, a standout for the Kingsmen in 1980s, going into Cal Lutheran Hall of Fame
By Bob Buttitta (Contact)
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
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Former California Lutheran University All American Greg Osbourne, right, shares a moment at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale with actor James Caan, center, and Jimmy Evangelatos, left
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Former Cal Lutheran golfer Greg Osbourne has been a friend of actor James Caan for close to 15 years. Thanks to that friendship, Osbourne has met a ton of "A list" celebrities and even spent five years working as an extra on the television show "Las Vegas," in which Caan starred.
While Caan has earned both praise and award nominations for his work in such films as "The Godfather" and "Brian's Song," Osbourne's extra work hardly earned him a notice.
But this week, Osbourne gets a chance to one-up his celebrity pal, when he is inducted into the Cal Lutheran Hall of Fame.
Osbourne, 51, played for the Kingsmen from 1982 to 1984. He was a three-year all-conference player and two-time MVP. He was the 1984 NAIA District III individual champion and finished fourth at the NAIA National Championship. He was the first golfer in school history to earn All-America honors.
Osbourne is back in college golf as the head coach at Glendale Community College, a school he competed for prior to attending CLU.
"It's a great honor being inducted into the Hall of Fame," Osbourne said. "I really enjoyed the years I played at Cal Lutheran.
"For me as a college golf coach, it's a great accomplishment to have on my résumé."
In his first season at CLU, Osbourne showed his coaches and teammates not only how talented a golfer he was, but also how tough he was. Playing as the team's No. 1 golfer, Osbourne led the Kingsmen to a berth in the NAIA district championships.
The Saturday before the district event, Osbourne injured his knee in a spring football practice. Despite the injury, he played 36 holes, helping CLU finish second. The Kingsmen could have gone to the national championship tournament, but the school elected not to send the team.
During his second season, Osbourne starred for a very good Cal Lutheran team — one that won the district title and competed at the nationals in Texas.
But in his final season, the team was not that good, so Osbourne knew his only shot at playing in the NAIA nationals was going as an individual by winning the district title. He won the title, earning a spot in the nationals that were played in Michigan.
Osbourne played a practice round the day before and tweaked his neck a bit. He went to range the next morning before his tee time, and on the third swing he tweaked his neck so badly he could not stand up.
Tournament officials moved Osbourne to the last group of the day so his coach could take him to a chiropractor to try to loosen up the neck. The chiropractor did not help, but Osbourne refused to let the pain put him out.
"Every time I would swing, I would grunt because it hurt so much," Osbourne said. "I had to carry my golf bag like a sack in front of me.
"The nights were so bad. My coach had to pull me out of bed every morning. ... It was the longest and most painful week of my life."
Shortly after graduating from Cal Lutheran, Osbourne was working as an assistant at Los Robles Golf Course when Hollywood came calling.
Titleist was making a national television commercial and they were looking for a golf professional to star in the ad. The head pro at Los Robles suggested Osbourne and he ended up getting the part.
It was featured prominently on the networks' coverage of the PGA Tour.
"It aired for four years," Osbourne said. "On Saturday and Sundays, McGregor would air its commercials with Jack Nicklaus. Ram Golf would have theirs with Tom Watson and then there was me with Titleist. It was pretty neat."
That led to another commercial, which enabled Osbourne to earn his Screen Actor's Guild card. In all, he did 14 golf commercials over the years.
Having his SAG card came in handy once he got to know Caan. The two met when Caan was referred to Osbourne for lessons when he taught at the Balboa/Encino Golf courses.
They hit it off right away, teaming up for tournaments and just playing golf socially.
"Greg is insanely passionate about golf and teaching golf, and I really like that," Caan told PGA Magazine. "He gets more pleasure out of seeing somebody make progress with their game than anything.
"He has transferred his passion for the game to a lot of people over the years, including myself."
When Caan ended up on the television show, "Las Vegas," Osbourne asked Caan if he could get him a job as an extra. Caan was more than happy to help and for the next five years, Osbourne was a regular on the show.
While he enjoys the acting, golf is still Osbourne's first love. So when Glendale asked if he would be willing to help bring back the golf program, he jumped at the chance.
"I really enjoy it and would like to do this for a while," Osbourne said of coaching.