Many readers have said that Ben Samuel, the eccentric Apache friend of Bruce DelReno, is their favorite character in Willowtree.
Where did the inspiration for the character come from?
It came from a real person and friend of mine.
His name is not Ben Samuel, but he has two first names. (blog- names )
He is not an Apache, but a Yavapai from the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe whose Reservation was established in Prescott, Arizona in 1935.
My friend is a genuinely friendly, humourous, generous, and likeable individual who is more of an avid golfer than Bruce or me. Better at it, too.
I have learned a lot about Native Americans from him and others while living in Arizona and from playing golf with many of them. The Indians, they call themselves Indians, to me at least, are enthusiastic golfers. There are many Indian Tournaments; I have been privileged to be able to play in some sponsored by Tribes.
Every Indian I have met seems to be proud of his heritage and also proud to be an American.
I met my friend about fifteen years ago when we were made members of the same team in a celebrity pro-am tournament in Prescott.
Later that year a new golf course opened in my town and we met again. He also lived nearby and we soon began our Sunday foursome skins game. We have played together with two others nearly every Sunday since then. We sometimes will play different courses in the state, and often as a team in area tournaments, winning our share.
So, Ben is inspired by my friend, but Ben is not this friend.
They are their own persons, though they both are good golfers and quite funny.
The only stolen attribute (besides low handicap) given to Ben was his habit of loudly stirring multiple packets of sugar into his coffee. Of course, my friend was not aware of the annoyance until the book, and for some reason does not do it anymore.
When I took the photo that was eventually used on the cover, I had not realized that my friend had moved into the frame. I was shooting the desert willow tree from the cart path looking toward the fairway. I decided to leave him in the photo when cropping it.
He thinks it's Ben.