A couple of months ago in this column, we published the two winners of the first ever “Tell Us A Story”
Contest – These stories, and the others we received were a lot of fun, and I hope they will inspire others
to share the wonderful times that they have experienced on and around the golf courses of our region.
This month I am going to #1 – Tell you a story that meant a lot to me at an early age (and) #2 – Put out
another request for your contributions…but this time I want to get a little more specific. Meaning – in the future, I plan a series of feature articles on courses and golf facilities that are no longer part of our region – courses & facilities that had a storied past, but for one reason or another have closed…except in our memories. And I would love to hear from all those who – played – worked at – or just want to share the stories that they remember of these facilities.
But First – My Story
In 1962 (or maybe 1963) I remember, quite fondly, an event that happened at one of our fine local courses – an event that – (although I did not know it at the time) – would profoundly affect me very personally, and much later, professionally.
Living within about a two-mile walk of Gleason Park Golf Course in Gary, Indiana, I was just old enough at this time to take this walk (alone) to the course, carrying the few clubs I had in my small canvas bag. *Does anybody remember those? Usually, I would be given a ride, but being about 7 or 8, it was a wonderful adventure to be on my own, taking short cuts through alleys, etc., & carrying a little hard cash in my pocket on the way to the golf course.
On the day of this story, I really don’t remember anything special going on, other than not one of us kids were actually playing golf. We were putting on the putting green, or putting from off the putting green, from some pretty challenging spots – (it was verboten for us to chip around the practice green) – and, to be honest, we all got pretty good at it.
The older (9-11) year old kids were really good – (I’m not sure of all their names, but I can still “see” their talented shot-making as I tell this tale) – (and) they were betting pennies! *If you remember small canvas bags, you probably remember pennies! - (and, if) they were really feeling it – maybe for nickels!
Well, as I said, we were not playing on the course; not because it was “too early” for junior play -or- because the course was too crowded, but because some of the kids didn’t have the $ to play; (and) the rest of us felt it was not polite/proper – (whatever you want to call it) – to make them feel bad about this by leaving them behind. *Looking back – that was pretty cool of us, don’t you think? – (and) anyway, it was quite understandable. The price as I recall for a junior to play (9) holes during junior golf hours was a whopping 50 cents! – The same price I remember putting down to go to the movies on Saturday afternoons! So it was not only understandable, but relatively common. That’s how so many early Gleason Park “Junior Golf Green Rats” – (As I heard us referred to) – got such a good touch from off the green – (not having enough “green!”). – So, as you hear the rest of the story, I think you will understand why – it should not be “undervalued.”
As we were putting (and) watching the older kids exchange pennies (or) play “punch.” *If you had run out of pennies & you lost, the winner was allowed to punch the loser in the arm! Cool! (And) painful! to watch. …Out from the golf shop walked a tall man who we all new knew and respected – (at our age, respect often meant fear of doing things wrong) – and some kids sort of looked at the ground, or slowly moved towards their clubs, etc. because this man was the golf professional at Gleason, Mr. Wally Kolodziej Sr.; a kind man – (as long as we behaved & didn’t bother adults, again etc.) – well anyway, we looked at him hoping we would not be told to – leave/go home/whatever…but no! …This kind man walked up to the green, looked us up & down, and with a very serious look on his face said, “I’m tired of watching you kids out here on my putting green. Get out of here – go play golf.” …There was a hesitation, some looking around, and I think the oldest of us figured it out first – Off he went, grabbed his sticks, and headed to the first tee! – Very quickly followed by about 6 or 7 more “Rats” -but- I remember standing frozen for a time, looking at him, (and) as he walked back to the clubhouse gazing at those who were already heading to the tee, I noticed his face, which had a slight grin – a wry adult smile came over it – something I will always remember – remember hell! – Something I can’t ever forget! And so off I went to join the others/to make up teams/to form our groups/and to play our round of golf!
What do you figure that is? – About (55) years ago I guess…and I can still “feel” that moment – (and) since that incident – (and of course the many other kind acts I have witnessed by other fine local golf course owners and professionals) – since that moment – I have been truly respectful of this marvelous game of ours, and the people who play it, and those who have made it their profession. Thanks for that Mr. K. – I can’t even begin to relate how much that meant, that day, so many years ago.
#2 Ok – I hope you enjoyed my story – but, remember there are (2) sections to this month’s writing. Namely - #2 – (My request for your help in recovering old stories about some of our wonderful golf facilities of the past) – now is the time – please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org -or- for those of us who still use the U.S. Postal Service: J&S Publishing – 322 Quail Dr., Hobart, Indiana 46342 – Just write your remembrances -or- give me your name and phone #, and I will get in touch with you as soon as possible.
I’m doing this late in the golf season, so there will be plenty of time to contact everyone to prepare these articles for the 2018 season. Lake Hills G.C. anyone? Cressmoor? How about Broadmoor, or the Monastery – Griffith Golf Center (or) The Schererville Fun Center? (or) for others, it may have been Woodmar C.C. …What others have I forgotten? Let me know…and hopefully together, we can recapture some of the history of golf facilities that mean so much to so many.
Around the tours in August
The LPGA opened August with their 5th (and last) major of the year in St. Andrews, Scotland, where South Korea’s In-Kyung Kim captured her 1st ever major title – and 3rd overall win of the season. A couple weeks later, the city of West Des Moines, Iowa was home to the 15th edition of the Biennial Solheim Cup. This women’s version of the Ryder Cup in men’s golf – was won soundly by the USA team 16½ to 11½ over a talented group from Europe – thereby retaining the cup they won back in 2015 – congrats to all associated! (And) rounding out the month was the always interesting Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, where another young star–Sung Hyun Park–of South Korea, brought home her 2nd career LPGA title in Ottawa, Canada.
The Senior Set on the PGA Tour Champions visited Blaine, MN, where long time PGA Tour player Paul Goydos captured the title, while the tournament “inside” the tournament for the greats of golf, was won by the team of Nicklaus-Player-and Trevino – I don’t care how old they are – it would be tough to bet against them! The newly energized Scott McCarron won for the 3rd time this season at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
The European Men’s Tour saw limited action – with Jason Norris taking home the Paul Lawrie Match Play Championship title, and Julian Suri winning the prestigious Made In Denmark Open title held in Farso, Denmark, for his 1st career win on the Euro Tour.
On The Men’s PGA Tour, there was a full slate of exciting golf – beginning with: The WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, where Hideki Matsuyama fired a final round (61)! (and) captured his 3rd PGA victory of the 2017 season; (11) year veteran Chris Stroud won the Barracuda Championship – held in Reno, Nevada – for his 1st ever win on Tour! *Nice job Chris! The final major of the year on the men’s tour was held at the beautifully renovated Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte, North Carolina the following week – where (24) year old Justin Thomas won his 1st ever major – and 4th! victory of 2017. This was the event where all eyes were on his life-long friend and rival – Jordan Speith – who was trying to win the career grand slam at this 99th edition of the PGA Championship – so it was probably a win where Jordan felt – if I can’t win this time, I’m glad for my buddy to be the one to deny me (this time!).
The Wyndham Championship, held in Greensboro, North Carolina, came next – where Sweden’s Henrik Stenson won his 6th PGA Tour title – (the most ever by a gentleman from Sweden); and closing out August was the beginning of the final run for the year-long Fed-Ex Cup title, with the holding of the Northern Trust Championship contested in Old Westbury, New York. (And) in one of the best contests of the year, world #1 Dustin Johnson, held on to win in a playoff with Jordan Speith – for Mr. Johnson’s 4th victory of the season.
*And a couple more national events of note: The coveted – (117th edition) – of the U.S. Men’s Amateur (title) – was won by (19) year old Clemson University Freshman Doc Redman, in an exciting (37) hole final match over Doug Ghim. (And) it was announced that the 2028 Olympics are going to be held in Los Angeles – This should really provide a showcase for worldwide golf when it is staged here in the U.S. ten years from now - ?Justin Tomas (34)? - ?Jordan Speith (34)? – who knows if new stars will emerge by then – or if these “30 something’s” will still be on top.
September begins: Fall close-out specials on merchandise at some locations; twilight rates begin at several courses; fall leagues are now forming; (and) the courses become “alive” with color – with less crowded conditions! – Enjoy this beginning of fall – golf rates & great weather – you gotta love golf in the region this time of year!
And a couple of weeks are still left in the year long Pepsi-Illiana Challenge – jump on board! Call (219)865-2554 for details. And, good luck to all in the season finale!
Also – if you’re reading this, the first week of September – give Greg a call to join in the fun at the annual “Verta Richards Foundation Purple Swing Outing” Saturday Sept. 9th – Details? (219)678-2348 – lots of fun – great cause.
Do you want to see the best of the best shoot it out close to home? Why not go out to the beautiful Conway Farms Golf Club in nearby Lake Forest, IL – Sept. 12th–17th for the BMW Championship – tickets are reasonable/and still available – www.bmwchampionship.com (or) 847-724-4600 for info.
(And) for a little non-golf fun: The 39th annual Valparaiso Popcorn Festival will be held Sept. 9th in downtown Valpo – Never been? – Check it out – valparaisoevents.com -or- how about a little suds & songs! – the brews & blues.
Special thanks this month: To Mike & Kathy Modrzejewski – to all those who continue to send in their golf stories – to my good friends at Savannah Quarters Golf Club – to Barb for the encouragement – and to the many region golf professionals & superintendents who helped “shape” the lives of so many of us – and still do!
(And) if you have a suggestion for a feature article you would like to see covered -or- if you just want to chime in – 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.
Lastly: The first liar doesn’t have a chance: Jim Thorpe, a good friend and long-time PGA & Champions Tour player, was once playing a (2) on (2) rather “sketchy” big money match in his younger days, when one of his opponents hit his ball deep in the woods. Jim & his partner were helping in the search, when Jim’s partner stated, “He’ll never find it,” to which Jim asked, “How come?” – and was given the reply – “Because it’s in my pocket!” …A few seconds later, while leaving the woods, they were (however) not surprised to hear their opponent call out “I found it!”
See ya next month - Pete