In the early 1960’s, a small band of musicians invaded the shores of our land – calling themselves
"The Beatles” - this group had a semi-successful run, (including a couple of hit records), for a few years - and
each of these performers wore their hair a bit longer than was the “norm for the day. This hair style affected
many of the impressionable youth of the time, including a young man named Wally Kolodziej Jr., who let his hair grow just a few inches longer than most – prompting his father Wally Kolodziej (Senior) to nickname his son “Ringo.” (I believe this to be the name?! of one of these Rock & Rollers), and, anyway, the name Ringo has “stuck” to Wally Jr. now for almost half a century.
A Little Background
Wally Kolodziej (the father) grew up around the game of golf – caddying at Longwood GC in Crete, Illinois, working with various golf related enterprises -and- in 1960, started an (8) season run as golf professional at the historic Gleason Park Golf Course in Gary, Indiana. During this time, the Kolodziej family, including Mrs. Mary Kolodziej (Mrs. K.), their daughter Patty, and young Wally, were the “heart and soul” of this facility to many – especially the thousands of junior golfers of this era who first learned the game of golf at Gleason Park.
In the late 60’s, Mr. & Mrs. Kolodziej acquired land on Route #30, a few miles east of “downtown” Merrillville, Indiana (and a few miles south of downtown Hobart, Indiana), and taking their lead from their own travels and experiences, as well as, a “model” golf facility owned by friend John Bobick of Mishawaka, Indiana, the Kolodziej family opened “Ringo’s Golf Center” on May 28th, 1971 – the first golf specialty store in this part of northwestern Indiana.
Over the years, the facility was home to a driving range, a miniature golf course, and baseball batting cages – but the main focus at Ringo’s has always continued to be the large golf equipment store that dominates the property.
Currently, Ringo’s Golf Center is a beautifully maintained (7+ acre) facility, which includes the fully stocked 4,000 sq ft golf “store”, a several station outdoor golf club & teaching “Demo” area, and a full-size putting green & short game practice area.
Inside the golf store, you will find a full line of equipment, from most all of golf’s major manufacturers: including clubs, golf bags, shoes, balls, gift items (including many personalized items containing the logos and team colors of the Chicago & Midwest sports teams) -and- all at some of the best pricing available anywhere in the country!
Ringo’s sales staff will assist you with any of your club-fitting or club repair needs and takes great pride in the service aspect of their business. The current “All Star Cast” of knowledgeable golf & sales professionals include: Maureen (Ringo’s wonderful wife of (31) years), Wally (Ringo), sales manager Jim Pysh, the always helpful Tina Christiansen, part-timer Dan Kaleth, and of course the highly qualified P.G.A. professional David Perkins. Dave’s lesson programs for juniors, beginners, or advanced players, (one on one (or) in group sessions), are among the best our area has to offer.
Over the years, Ringo’s Golf Center has provided employment for many local residents, and has continued the family nature of the business by having all three of Maureen & Wally’s children (Matthew, Jeoffrey, and Emily), work in the shop at various times! (And), if you are lucky, even “Teddy” (the #1 golf shop K-9) will lend you a helping hand (paw)!
Virtually all local golf pro shops are very good merchants (and) knowledgeable suppliers of golf products – the “difference” inherent within the off-course / independently owned / golf specialty store business / however – lies in the fact that their entire focus is solely based on “service & selection & pricing”. As a “destination” golf operation, the golf specialty shop must rely on the satisfaction and loyalty of the “repeat” customer and therefore the staff must spend more time to work with their customers’ individual needs – because, the entire source of income of the facility rests upon the sales of quality products to satisfied customers.
(40+) years in business is a strong indicator that the Kolodziej family (and extended family) is doing it right! Just ask your fellow Region golfers – they’ll tell you!
Ringo’s Golf Center gives you that “feel right at home” atmosphere that many of us still appreciate, and this family business continues to supply our region with products and services (at great pricing) the old-fashioned way – through hard work and appreciation of their customers. Many of us who remember Wally (Ringo) as that slightly “shaggy” haired junior golfer, and Merrillville High School golf stand-out, are happy & proud of his and the entire Kolodziej family’s success.
*Looking back all these years later, I often wonder if this band of “Beatles” ever caught on? And – even though Wally may never have truly warmed up to this “Ringo” nickname of his, it’s a sure bet that Wally – like most of us – would like to have that long dark hair back!
Ringo’s Golf Center is located on Rte 30 in Merrillville Indiana approx. (3) miles east of the intersection of I-65 & Rte 30. The mailing address is 7611 E. Lincoln Hwy – Crown Point, Indiana 46307. The phone # is (219)942-8929 & the website is www.ringosgolf.com. Ringo’s is open Mon-Sat 10AM – 5PM / Sun Noon – 5PM (year round) -and- for lessons with P.G.A. professional David Perkins -or- to check out any “extended” holiday hours, just call the shop – and remember Gift Certificates always please those golfers you know this time of year!
Congratulations Rory McIlroy! What a year! One year removed from Luke Donald’s historic “Double” – winning the US Money Title, as well as, the European Tour’s “Order of Merit” (The European Money Title) – Rory pulls off the same feat! And, with his victory at the season ending “Race to Dubai” (The European Tour Championship”) -and- his success in the Ryder Cup at Medinah CC – his season could match any season that any player may have had on the world golf stage. At (23) years old, comparisons to history may be a little unfair, but with that swing -and- his great attitude, we may be looking at the early stages of one of the truly great golfing careers – ever!
Youth be served – again! Last year Lexi Thompson wins on the LPGA Tour at age (16) – this year, Lydia Ko of New Zealand wins the US Women’s Amateur Championship and an LPGA Tournament at (15) years old – and now Guan Tialang (a 14 year old young man from China) has won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship – earning an invite to next years Masters! Wow!
The “outdoor” golf season is far from over – with more and more golf courses remaining open year round – and some early cooperation from Mother Nature – hopefully we have a lot of rounds ahead. So please go on out and enjoy while we can – visit your local golf course -and- take a look at helping Santa by buying a gift certificate, a “gift” of lessons, or maybe a membership for (2013) for you -or- your loved ones. The prices are usually the best this time of the year – so take advantage.
But if we do get buried in a little of the white stuff, remember, our area is lucky enough to have some alternatives…like…
Our friends at “Rio’s Country Club” in Valparaiso, Indiana have golf leagues still forming – offering play on their state of the art golf simulators. If you have never experienced golf played this way – you have got to try it – it’s a ball – call Rick Roberts for details (219)465-5200.
And the “Dome”, located in Crown Point, Indiana, a 140’ x 240’ x 55’ structure, is a great place to hit balls even in the worst of weather. Call Don at (219)663-3663 for directions & info.
Also – the indoor & outdoor range -and- simulator combo – is open year round at the Creekside GC & Training Center in Valparaiso, Indiana (and) LPGA teaching professional Nancy Bender is always available with a variety of lesson plans for all ages. Give Creekside a call at (219)531-7888.
More – P.G.A. member Jason Gillespie offers golf instruction all winter at the J&M Golf Store location in St. John, Indiana. Great place to pick up a few tips & a few “gifts.” Call (219)365-5611 for details.
And more: Dean Gabey at Lost Marsh GC in Hammond, Indiana will be working with students indoors this winter, as well as, offering a great golf simulator package for individuals & groups – call Lost Marsh for info – (219)932-4046.
And regardless of the weather, “Golf Talk” on WJOB1230AM will continue to air in December (Thursday December 13th) & January (Thursday Jan 10th) as Michael Stewart and I discuss region golf “goings on”. Give us a call on the air at (219)845-1100 – we would love to hear from you – (or) to view the show – log on to www.wjob1230.com - I go on at 2:30 P.M.
All local charitable organizations, food pantries, etc. are usually in great need this time of year – rather that list them all here – please contact your local civic leaders if you have the ability to help in any way, I know it will be greatly appreciated.
And we at Golf Plus would like to thank all the readers of Golf Plus Newspaper –and- GolfPlusOnline.net for your support and feedback throughout the year. Also major thanks to our advertising partners who allow us to provide the region with local golf news & events.
Next month we will be publishing a “Special” Jan/Feb edition – so look for it at your local golf course, golf store, or other location where Golf Plus is available – AND – beginning in March (2013) look for new features, contests, and surprises as this publication enters its 21st year in business!
Special thanks this month to: Wally (Ringo) and Maureen Kolodziej and the staff at Ringo’s Golf Center, including Jim, Dave, Tina, Dan, and Teddy! To WJOB1230AM, their staff, and especially to Michael Stewart (Stew) – for letting me share the airwaves this past season – to Michael Modrzejewski for all his help, and to my lovely wife Mary for all her support and assistance, always.
As always – I appreciate any comments, suggestions, questions, stories, etc. Please contact me at our e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 www.GolfPlusOnline.net.
Lastly: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New year to all! I hope that all your holiday wishes come true, you all continue to enjoy good health, and that nothing but easy approaches, and tap-in birdies await you in the coming year!