Golf Plus newspaper & GolfPlusOnline.net
Phone: 219.617.3276    Email: golfplus3@netzero.com    Mobile: GolfPlusOnline.net
"Serving the Golf Communities of NW Indiana and Chicago's South Suburbs"
                                      When businesses succeed there is a reason, when employees stay long term – there is a reason – when 
                                   customers show loyalty to that business – there is a reason – J&M Golf stores in Griffith & St. John, Indiana 
                                   are a success story in the Region – not by accident, but through hard work, providing products golfers want, 
                                   services golfers need, pricing that golfers can afford, and the determination & desire to be the best.

A Brief Background
   In the 1970’s, Mark Allen worked alongside his father Jim Allen (an owner/partner) at the legendary “Cam Golf” store in Lansing, Illinois. Beginning at the age of only (7 or 8!) Mark began doing odd jobs around the store, learning about golf products, club repair, etc. – but most importantly learning about the value of customer service & the “promises kept” aspect of the retail business.
   While attending St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, Mark continued to work weekends delivering products for his dad throughout the Midwest (and beyond), and began working “consumer” golf shows on a regular basis.
   While at St. Joe’s, Mark roomed with John Fiene, and the two teamed-up to cover even more territory. After graduation, Mark and his father Jim formed “J&M Golf”, and with the help of John Fiene, and the addition of Mark’s cousin John Allen, a “wholesale” division eventually evolved. And with “dogged” determination, (and the support & experience of Jim Allen), this group aggressively pursued retail outlets for the distribution of their now growing product line(s). As their efforts became more successful, and they were able to grab a “foothold” in this segment of the golf industry, it was not uncommon for John Allen (who currently heads up the National Sales Division of J&M Golf) to be on the road (250+) days a year. For Mark (and) John Fiene (currently in charge of International Sales), the accounts (and the hours), piled-up as well.
   As these national & international distribution channels continued to grow – they spotted a building in Griffith, Indiana that seemed perfect for the opening of a retail outlet of their own; and so, in 1991, they opened their 1st J&M Golf store.
Moving Forward
   By continually moving forward with the wholesale division (both nationally & internationally) -and- now with thousands of accounts in the US (+) shipping to upwards of (15) foreign countries – the buying power that they were able to develop enabled J&M to provide excellent pricing on all golf products sold to golfers here in the region.
   As the J&M Golf retail store continued to expand, so did the need for a staff of qualified professionals to service the customers. Among the first to come aboard were: Ed Martin (21 years) – the master club repair expert of our area & (formerly an aircraft mechanic who worked on Navy jets); Dave Batinick (also 21 years) – who works with the vital shipping & packing team; Steve Chicki (17 years) – who works with customer service; Mark Ozelie (17 years) – working outside sales; Tony Lane (16 years) – from Highland, IN & former Gary amateur, Lake Porter Jr. & Open champion – and who currently manages the St. John, IN J&M store (more on that later); Ted Bishton (15 years) – working with both customer service & shipping/packing; Dave Wieklinski (14 years) – also from Highland, and a member of the St. Joseph’s College Golf team – who manages the Griffith J&M Golf store; and others with multiple years of service including: Annette Gates, Tony Hevesy, Josh Guidarelli, Jon Michaels, and Terry McMurtry.
More
   In order to further serve the golf customers of our area, J&M Golf, (in 2009), opened their (2nd) store, located in St. John, Indiana. As I mentioned, this store is managed by Tony Lane, and is home to PGA professional (and Lowell HS grad) Jason Gillespie, the ever helpful Stephanie, and to the famously talented golf club fitter/specialist extraordinaire - Kitty! Currently this location is beginning an expansion project that will add approximately 50% more retail space to its already 2,000 sq. ft. of show floor.
J&M Golf Retail
   Regardless of which J&M retail golf store you visit, you will find the finest selection of quality golf products available anywhere in the country. From golf clubs – including a vast array of drivers, putters, wedges, etc. – to golf bags (including bags with most all of the team sports & “specialty” logos) – golf shoes, balls, clothing (including a large selection of men’s & women’s apparel & outerwear – most visible at the St. John store location); junior equipment, a club “hitting” & “fitting” area, training aids, accessories, hats, etc. And both locations are specialists in handling golf event & outing special orders. The highly experienced club repair department has an “extra large” inventory of shafts, and more than (120!) golf grips to select from – (and) all with an on-time (no surprises) delivery policy.
Today
   Currently you will find (owners) Mark Allen, John Allen, and John Fiene in -or- around the stores – maybe inside the Griffith store’s 23,000 sq. ft. warehouse, or on the road continuing to expand the business with the same energy that they have shown for the past (25+) years. And when you enter either of the (2) retail locations of J&M Golf, you will experience a very “customer friendly” staff of “Region” golf professionals (who) will answer your questions, handle all of your golfing needs, and further assist you in making your golf game more enjoyable. If you don’t see something you want (need) – Just ask – chances are they have it!
In Conclusion
   J&M golf is a “Region” success story for many reasons. Quality products at excellent pricing, an ownership group who are not afraid to get their hands dirty -and- who value the staff of professionals they have assembled; a staff of local knowledgeable employees who play the game, and are a tight-knit group who are tuned-in to the Region golf scene; the complete attention to detail throughout the organization; and, although Mr. Jim Allen retired (7 or 8) years ago, I am sure the importance he placed on family values & the success that hard work can bring is still felt today! Stop in J&M Golf at either of their (2) locations – in Griffith, Indiana at 319 Industrial Drive (Call for hours) (Phone #:(219)922-1787) or in St. John, Indiana at 10135 Earl Drive (219) 365-5611. An up-coming “Demo-day” – featuring equipment from various major manufacturers – will be held Saturday April 27th at Palmira GC in St. John, Indiana from 11AM-3PM – come try out the latest clubs for 2013!
Golf Shots
   The “Tours” are always interesting – but this year, wow!
• Stacey Lewis who overcame (6) years in a back brace (a victim of childhood scoliosis) – and still has (18) pins holding her back in 
   place – captures the #1 ranking in the world!
• (5) 1st time winners already this year on the PGA Tour.
• (6) of the last (11) winners on the European Tour are from South Africa.
• (13) American victories in a row on the PGA Tour – this hasn’t happened in over (25) years.
• Tiger Woods wins for the 3rd time this year & now has (77) career victories (and) regains the Men’s #1 ranking.
• Scott Langley – the (3) time All-American from the U. of Illinois – becomes the 1st student from the “1st Tee” program to qualify for 
   the PGA Tour
• And, Guan Tianlang, a (14) year old golfer from China earns an invite to the Masters!
   Speaking of tours – the Champions Tour will be returning to Chicago for the first time since (2002) – for the “Encompass Championship” June 17th-23rd at the fabled North Shore CC in Glenview, Illinois.
Other Stuff
   Leagues for men, women, juniors, seniors, husband/wife – etc. are currently forming everywhere - Join in the fun! Membership rates are still low – call your favorite course to take advantage. Indian Ridge GC in Hobart, IN is having “Open To All” events every M-W-F mornings (for info, call (219)942-6850). Wicker Park GC in Highland, Indiana continues spring rates until May 5th – Gleason Park GC in Gary, IN is a great place to play at excellent pricing (and) is starting to plan for a “Special Reunion” event that is to be played in August of this year – stay tuned. Ringo’s Golf Center in Crown Point, IN (on Rte #30) is having a Ping “fitting” day Friday April 26th from 2-6PM – call (219)942-8929 for an appointment. Balmoral Woods in Crete, Illinois is again hosting the Will County Amateur (April 20th & 21st) – go on out and watch some of the nation’s best amateurs.
   (And) a group of golfers form Northwest Indiana will be headed down to south central Indiana for their annual golf “pilgrimage.” This group was originally formed in part by Rich Nawrocki, and started out with a couple of foursomes – today, more than (100) players will challenge courses like Sultan’s Run (Good Luck), and are made up primarily of members of the Wicker Park Men’s Golf Club. Now organized largely by Steve Vermejan, this group proves how golf is still alive & well in the “Region.”
   And speaking of upcoming Region events, our friends at the Hammond Optimist Club will be holding their annual Smelt Fry – Saturday April 20th – at St. Michael’s Ukrainian Hall in Hammond, Indiana. This event – running from 5-11PM – will raise money for youth sports programs in the area – great cause – (and) watch for the Cal Ripken World Series as it arrives at the Hammond Optimist Youth Sports Complex in early August! Info:(219)712-5112.
   Earlier on Sat. April 20th (7AM-4PM) Hammond, Indiana Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. in conjunction with the Hammond Port Authority will be holding their 16th annual Fishing Derby at the Hammond Marina on Casino Center Dr – Free entry, Free parking, & Free refreshments – Bring the kids! Info:(219)659-7678.
   And, this year I will be appearing as a guest on “The Back Room” radio show starring “Larry The K” and “Big George.” I will be on their show the (3rd) Thursday of every month at approx. 7:00PM – to discuss local golf goings on & GIVING AWAY a few rounds of golf to some of our fine local courses. For a CHANCE TO WIN - or just to listen in – tune in to WJOB1230AM –or- log on to www.wjob1230am.com to view the show. The call-in number is (219)845-1100 – Good Luck!
Quick Shots
   Chris Wellsand is the new golf professional at White Hawk CC in Crown Point, IN. Welcome Chris! And good luck to the owners of White Hawk CC on their recent acquisition of the Brassie Golf Course in Chesterton, IN -and- River Pointe GC in Hobart, IN.
  Andrean High School will be holding their “Scholarship Benefit” golf outing – June 21st at Innsbrook CC in Merrillville, IN – great cause & fun – with guest speaker Dan Dakich of ESPN – Info:(219)887-5281. And speaking of Andrean, our buddy Dave Lebioda’s son Hank is doing great in his freshman year playing golf for Florida State University. Go get-em Hank!
   Special thanks this month: To everyone at J&M Golf – including Mark Allen, John Allen, John Fiene, Dave Wieklinski, and Tony Lane. To Michael Modrzejewski for all his help, to my lovely wife Mary for her support, -and- to Jim Allen & Don Bach from the former Cam Golf store in Lansing, IL – who helped this young (very green) golf pro some (35+) years ago – Many thanks!
   As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions, questions, stories, etc. Please contact me at our e-mail address: golfplus3@netzero.com or leave me a voicemail at (219)947-4313. And to read past golf course reviews – or to just visit Golf Plus newspaper online – visit our website at www.golfplusonline.net.
   My pick for the Masters – Justin Rose – when he starts winning “Majors” he may win a basket full!
Lastly
   I was reminded recently of what a great “social” facility our local golf courses truly are. At an event held at Duck Creek GC in Hobart, Indiana, about (100) people gathered to raise money for “The Cure” – benefiting Breast Cancer Awareness & assisting those in need. The event was a success in large part due to owner Ken Nabhan and his staff – including Sue & Joyce, and, the organizers (too many to mention). The next time you are planning an event, wedding, party, “whatever,” consider your golf club – they do a great job (and) they always make you feel right at home! *Sign seen at Duck Creek: “Golf – an endless series of tragedies – obscured by the occasional miracle!” – See you next month.
J&M Golf in Griffith, IN & St. John, IN – A “Region” Success Story
by Pete Mandich
GPO Correspondent