For many years in this column, I have written a monthly feature article covering one of our many wonderful
local golf courses…well this month… I thought I would change that up a bit, and relate a story that I thought
you might enjoy, or even draw inspiration from.
Many times over the years, I have heard – (and come to believe) – that golf is a lot like life! The lessons it
teaches on how to overcome adversity when you fall victim to a few funny bounces, the character that a golfer
develops when he/she realizes that regardless of the circumstances, you must remain positive – look forward
and do your best on the “next shot” that faces you… (and)… just when you think you “got it,” “poof,” the game, and the game of life, may become one huge mystery all over again.
This is why I believe so strongly in junior golf, and, the marvelous 1st tee programs – wherein they teach not just the game of golf, but life lessons & core values that our children can carry with them the rest of their lives.
Yes, golf is more than a game – this “sport” that was 1st developed in the 12th! Century – and a game that can be played throughout your entire life – (I have actually met/known individuals who have continuously played the game for over (90) years!) – can set your personal moral compass – (the only game where you actually call penalties on yourself!) – teach you to work hard at facing your problems head on, (and) most importantly, to never give up!
The following story is true – although the author was unknown – and has always reminded me that… “golf is more than a game.”
18 Holes in His Mind
Major James Nesmeth had a dream of improving his golf game – and he developed a unique method of achieving his goal. Until he devised this method, he was just your average weekend golfer, shooting in the mid to low-nineties. Then, for seven years, he completely quit the game. Never touched a club. Never set foot on a fairway.
Ironically, it was during this seven-year break from the game that Major Nesmeth came up with his amazingly effective technique for improving his game – a technique we can all learn from. In fact, the first time he set foot on a golf course after his hiatus from the game, he shot an astonishing 74! He had cut 20 strokes off his average without having swung a golf club in seven years! Unbelievable. Not only that, but his physical condition had actually deteriorated during those seven years.
What was Major Nesmeth’s secret?...Visualization
You see, Major Nesmeth had spent those seven years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. During those seven years, he was imprisoned in a cage that was approximately four and one-half feet high and five feet long.
During almost the entire time he was imprisoned, he saw no one, talked to no one and experienced no physical activity. During the first few months he did virtually nothing but hope and pray for his release. Then he realized he had to find some way to occupy his mind or he would lose his sanity and probably his life. That’s when he learned to visualize.
In his mind, he selected his favorite golf course and started playing golf. Every day, he played a full 18 holes at the imaginary country club of his dreams. He experienced everything to the last detail. He saw himself dressed in his golfing clothes. He smelled the fragrance of the trees and the freshly trimmed grass. He experienced different weather conditions – windy spring days, overcast winter days, and sunny summer mornings. In his imagination, every detail of the tee, the individual blades of grass, the trees, the singing birds, the scampering squirrels and the lay of the course became totally real.
He felt the grip of the club in his hands. He instructed himself as he practiced smoothing out his down-swing and the follow-through on his shot. Then he watched the ball arc down the exact center of the fairway, bounce a couple of times and roll to the exact spot he had selected, all in his mind.
In the real world, he was in no hurry. He had no place to go. So in his mind he took every step on his way to the ball, just as if he were physically on the course. It took him just as long to play 18 holes as it would have taken in reality. Not a detail was omitted. Not once did he ever miss a shot, never a hook or a slice, never a missed putt.
Seven days a week. Four hours a day. Eighteen holes. Seven years. Twenty strokes off. Shot a 74!
All the tours were once again very “active” and full of excitement:
The Champions Tour: Once again visited the historic (built in 1924) North Shore CC in nearby Glenview, Illinois for the Encompass Championship – which was won by Mr. Jerry Smith for his 1st ever tour title. And the (26th) British Senior Open title was the 1st “major” title for longtime veteran Marco Dawson.
The LPGA: Had another South Korean youngster (20 year old In Fee Chun) bring home her 1st major at the US Women’s Open; S. Korean Chella Choi got her 1st title (after (7) years of trying) at the Marathon Classic; and American Star Lexi Thompson won the Meijer LPGA Classic.
The European Tour: Saw the (99th) French Open title won by Austrian golfer Bernd Weisberger – becoming the winningest Austrian golfer of all time; emerging English star Danny Willett won the European Masters, and Rickie Fowler of the US brought home the Scottish Open title.
The US Men’s Tour (including the British Open) – The Greenbrier Classic was won by S. Korean born Danny Lee (24) – his 1st ever win on tour (that makes (9) 1st time winners on tour this year); the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois was won for the 2nd time by Jordan Spieth; the inaugural Barbasol Championship title went to long hitting Scott Piercy; the Canadian Open was won by Australian star Jason Day; (and) the 144th edition of the British Open went to former Masters champ (2007) Zach Johnson. An event that saw current Masters & US Open champ Jordan Spieth finish (1) stroke out of a playoff – but what an effort! This open held at the “old course” at St. Andrews in Scotland – (first opened for play in 1552!) – was the last for (5) time winner Tom Watson – and saw Tiger miss the cut & world #1 Rory McIlroy once again have to sit out with his ruptured ankle ligament.
(And) don’t forget the (4th) major – the PGA Championship – is coming back to the fantastic Whistling Straits GC in nearby Kohler, Wisconsin on August 13th thru the 16th – log on to www.pgachampionship.com for info – and even closer to town, the US Amateur (August 17th - 23rd) is being held at the south side’s gem – The Olympia Fields CC in Olympia Fields, Illinois – come out & see the newest “stars” on the horizon – usga.org for details.
The 5th Annual “Folds of Honor Patriot Golf Day” is Thursday August 20th at Sandy Pines GC in Demotte, IN – giving back to those who have given so much – call (219)477-9826 for info.
The Golf MS Scramble – Benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is being held Sat. August 15th at Valpo’s Robbinhurst GC – info – (219)617-1547.
More charity for great causes are being held Sat. Aug. 22nd – 1) The fifth annual Warren “Skip” Highwood Memorial Foundation Golf Outing – at The Brassie GC in Chesterton, IN – this foundation is dedicated to honoring men & women who are pursuing a career in firefighting, law enforcement, or emergency medical services. 2) The US Army SSG David Nowaczyk Memorial Outing will be held at the White Hawk CC in Crown Point, IN – funds will assist the memorial foundation to erect a fallen soldier memorial in Dyer, IN – call (219)213-1056 if you can play or help.
The Pepsi-Illiana visits Sandy Pines, White Hawk, Wicker Park, & Summertree Golf Courses this month – good luck to all!
(And) how about some fun?!
• The annual Beatles Fest event is being held August 8th from 2 to 11PM in downtown Hammond, IN – (10) Beatles-themed acts &
lots of kid-friendly fun – beatlesfest2015.com – for details & on that same night, the “WHAM” Bicycle Ride – with either a (10) or a (30)
mile route will begin and end at the Wolf Lake Pavilion – starts at 11:59PM! Details – (219)937-7942.
• -Or- if not the Beatles, how about Elvis? – The Theatre At The Center in Munster, IN – (celebrating their 25th year) – is presenting a
musical event showcasing the talents of Elvis Presley thru Aug. 16th – call (219)836-3255 for info.
• And don’t forget the incredible Lake County (IN) Fair – being held August 7th – 16th – call City Hall in Crown Point for info –
(219)663-3617 -or- go to www.lake-county-fair.com.
• Valparaiso, Indiana is again home for fun at their annual Popcorn Festival Sept. 12th – go to www.popcornfestival.org -or- call
(765)934-4888 for details.
• And Griffith Indiana is holding their “Lots of Fun” Western Days Aug. 20th – 23rd at St. Mary’s Church.
As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions, questions, stories, etc. Please contact me at our e-mail address: email@example.com or leave me a voicemail at (219)947-4314, and to read past golf course reviews – or to just visit Golf Plus newspaper online – visit our website at golfplusonline.net.
Special thanks this month to: To Mike Modrzejewski for his continued support + great work. To my lovely wife Mary for all the happiness. And to my wonderful mother Bernice (Bastiani) Mandich who passed away July 1st, 2015 – who was instrumental in teaching my sister Louise and myself life’s values, and introducing us to the marvelous game of golf.
And lastly: The great Ben Hogan, yes!, the stoic “Ice Man” of golf – once wrote – as you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” See Ya – Pete.