Meet Your Neighbor: Grace Hutchings

By George Stephens
Information Advisory Committe (IAC) Member

Grace with husband Tom

Grace Hutchings and her husband, Tom, came to Shadow Hills after living in Sun City Palm Desert for 8 years. They made the move to Shadow Hills because of the amenities including our beautiful clubhouses, clubs, activities, and the friendly residents. Some may say that Sun City Palm Desert is better because of self-management, but Grace and Tom don’t agree with that assessment: “We have lived in both communities, and we feel that Shadow Hills is better for us in so many different ways.

Shadow Hills residents come from many different backgrounds. Grace was born in Chicago, Illinois, and is a third-generation Japanese-American with roots in both Southern California and Japan. Grace’s grandfather graduated from the University of Southern California in 1914 and returned to Japan before the start of World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor. The war affected her family dramatically in different ways. Her father’s cousin was uprooted and interned at Tule Lake, California, for the duration of the war. Her parents were living in Japan at the time of the war. Her father was drafted into the US army and became General MacArthur’s attaché and translator in Tokyo during the Korean War. Grace continues to nurture her Japanese heritage and has been involved with the Japanese Tea Ceremony activity for over 50 years.

Her family eventually moved to California, where she graduated from El Camino High School in Woodland Hills. She says that as a 10-year-old she watched the 1964 UCLA basketball team under legendary coach, John Wooden, win the NCAA National Championship and became determined to go to UCLA for her college education. She graduated from UCLA with a BA in Japanese and a minor in mathematics. Grace later earned her teaching certification and an MA from Cal Lutheran in Education Administration. She was a translator for the Japanese Olympic team in 1984 when Los Angeles hosted the Olympics. She was a math teacher in the LA Unified school district for many years. When she and Tom moved to the desert she taught for the Desert Sands Unified School District in its special math programs. By all accounts, she was an inspirational math teacher for her students. She won the prestigious Jaime Escalante Mathematic Teachers Award in 1991, given to the outstanding math educator. She is still recognized and fondly remembered by her former students when she and Tom are out and about in our community.

When she moved to the desert, she decided to take golf seriously and threw herself into learning golf and improving her game. Subsequently she has been involved with the women’s golf club for several years as rules and handicap chairwoman, tournament chairwomen, vice president, and president in 2014 and 2015. She was instrumental in starting the Shadow Hills Couples Golf Club. She was the Desert Women’s Team Play President from 2014 to 2016. Apparently she learned quickly, as evidenced by having her first hole-in-one at PGA West 3 years ago in a team play match.

She is currently involved with the SCGA (Southern California Golf Association) course rating team, which rates golf courses in Southern California. (They don’t rate themselves!) The team goes on a regular basis to each golf course and measures the lengths of the holes; widths of the fairways; the locations of water, trees, and sand bunkers; the depths, widths, and speeds of greens; and the overall difficulty of the golf course. Shadow Hills South golf course was given a course rating of 69.9 and a slope of 127 for men, and a 75.9 rating with a slope of 138 for women from the white tees. Of course, the slope is used to determine one’s course handicap, which is to help level the field of play with other players. The rating number indicates the difficulty of the course for a scratch player who can usually shoot par. Course rating itself is based on a determined shot length made by a scratch player, whether male or female, from the tee or fairway. Two other Shadow Hills residents, Marianna Lasch and Lynn Strinic, are also on the rating team.

Her other golf interest is making creative golf club and golf cart covers—when she has time to indulge in her artistic side.

It’s easy to take for granted the many amenities that we all enjoy here at Shadow Hills. Maintaining and operating our clubhouses, golf courses, clubs and activities are not performed automatically; they are shepherded by the many devoted members in our community. Grace is one of our leaders who makes Shadow Hills a great place to live.

* A Note from the Chair of the Information Advisory Committee: If you know someone whose story would interest our community, please send in your suggestions to: