Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

SPRINGING or WANING?

March 26, 2018

 

As is usually the case annually in Wyoming, there’s some confusion about whether Spring is springing or Winter is waning. So far, we’ve had a mild winter; daily looks at my Weather Channel app show that we have so far had temperatures above those where many friends and relatives live in Charlotte, NC, and Kansas City, MO for most of the past month. Of course, so that over confidence doesn’t enter into the picture, we had 3 inches of wet snow overnight to remind us of where we live although most of it has already melted off. We’ll get more if tradition holds true; I recall several massive wet snows in April and May over the years, even to the extent that one year school was called off, a rare occasion in areas like ours that are prepared to deal with blizzards and the like. That turned out to be a questionable decision; it all melted by noon, all 8 inches of it!

As I’ve tried to establish as a habit pattern, I’ve been leaving Thermopolis about once a month, certainly not a bad idea during our usual winter weather. In February, I headed to Frisco, Texas, to help celebrate the February birthdays of my grandson, now age 4, and his sister, now 2. That trip was only about a week, cut a bit short due to the kids being hit with the flu. Both recovered nicely!

My next excursion was sandwiched between various –ologist visits which I chronicled in my January blog. I headed to Arizona in early March to serve for the third time as a volunteer at the LPGA Founders Cup golf tournament in Phoenix, stopping first in Pueblo, Colorado and then on to visit friends and a cousin here and there on my way. Prescott, Sedona, Green Valley, and Tucson were stops before reaching Phoenix, where I stayed for a week before heading back home. I even managed to play nine holes of golf on three occasions, albeit I feel that my golfing days are numbered. Apparently there’s more decay settling into this once-proud frame, and it takes several days to lessen the aching afterward. I have an appointment in two weeks with a Pain Management Specialist to see if there are some simple things I can do in order to keep playing; however, I’m not going to buy a membership at the local golf course. I’ll try to be content to play nine holes once a week or so, and walk instead of renting a cart. I play okay for about 7 holes; then my back doesn’t seem in synch with the rest of my body and shots start straying into unknown regions. I birdied a couple of short holes, but took 6 shots to get out of one very deep bunker. I suspect I’ll be able to shoot a score of 45 from the white tees, most of the time.

At present, I’m halfway through cataract surgery and so far, not happy. My right eye was done last Tuesday, and there are still lots of things floating around in the eye fluid. One, a large circle, has been particularly irritating, but a couple of days ago lots of discrete tiny black dots began to appear. In the past I’ve had those things called “floaters”, but never to this degree. If they’re not resolved by my next scheduled visit, April 9, I may cancel the left eye surgery for April 10. I’m also questioning my decision to go ahead with the ologists recommendation; my eyesight wasn’t that bad, it was just on the way to being so. And the cost of $3200 beyond Medicare seems a lot although it’s less than the cost of one dental implant! But when they gave me a pair of cheap sunglasses to wear while my eyes were dilated, I commented that for the price, I should have at least gotten Oakleys.

My next trip will be late April into early May; I have a luncheon at my high school alumni group in the Kansas City area on April 23. I’ll spend three or four days there, then head on to Charlotte, NC, to work in another golf tournament, the Wells Fargo Championship May 1-8. Again, there are folks I’ll visit on the way there and back, in St. Louis and Atlanta. I’ll be gone about three weeks, much to the dismay of my blind cat Timothy. About 5000 miles driving; my Arizona trip was 3000. My poor 2015 Honda CR-V will be three years old on June 30; right now it has 67,000 miles on it! All highway, from my frequent trips.

I decided to keep my SiriusXM radio subscription throughout the trip so I can fume over the daily happenings in the Trump administration. I’ve become perhaps overly simplistic in my viewpoints about politics; it seems increasingly that all that’s important to the Republicans is anything to do with money, and screw the ideas of providing for the General Welfare as set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution. And in spite of massive turnouts, or a flood of polling, showing what we as citizens want done, we are totally ignored. The recent movement initiated by the high schoolers will likely fade, unfortunately as other things occur and assume more importance to Congress in the hierarchy of political crap. I continue to hold out hope for next November, but not where I live. After all, we have the most guns per capita of any state. Go figure.

 

Always Be Happy     To Our Youth

Where Will It End?

August 4, 2017

Where Will It End?

The United Nations Security Council convened an emergency session in response to major emerging conflict between member states, arising in response to U.S. President Trump’s newly-announced policy on immigrations.

The roots of dissent lie in the restrictions being suggested that have the intent of more closely monitoring potential new arrivals on our shores, primarily requiring fairly high levels of special skills along with a command of the English language.

This is indeed puzzling, as numerous articles citing extensive research show two major points: First, many of our recent college graduates have indicated major difficulties in securing employment due to many of the open positions being taken by foreigners meeting exactly the requirements outlined in the proposed policy. These are the people who really are taking American jobs, not the undocumented immigrants.

Furthermore, the Administration appears to have major hangups about undocumented aliens whom they claim are taking jobs away from Americans. This is in direct contrast to the first point; this concern directly addresses employment of persons generally having low levels of education and skills, many of whom don’t speak English upon arrival, not unlike those persons employed in telephone customer support positions by many of the technology giants. Consistently , research studies indicate that these folks are taking jobs Americans don’t want, particularly in agriculture, construction, and the service industry. I won’t belabor the point that if these folks aren’t allowed in, we shall see major crises in the three areas I’ve already mentioned, and others.

That being said, allow me to return to the first point. Does the President realize the effect this will have on the fundamental fabric of the tapestry which is America? Are we to continue to allow Kenyan runners to win all of our marathons, realizing that English is the official language of their country? There’s some solace however, Ethiopians need not apply, they speak something else.

And what about college and NBA basketball? All those Eastern European players will have to look somewhere else for those scholarships and big bucks awaiting their signings. How will Coaches Self, K, and Cal manage to maintain their ascendancy? In the pros the days of the Olajuwans and Dikembe may bloom, Nigerians speak English. But woe for the Somalis!

South Korea will suffer a severe setback in their mission to dominate the LPGA golf tour, except for those ladies who took time to learn English and go to school in this country. That should free up lots of places in the top 10 for good ‘ol American gals.

I wonder that if this had been in effect years ago, would the Nigerian Nightmare have been welcomed in KC? And will Major League Baseball have to fold up due to losing all those players of Latin extraction from all over the Caribbean? What about the “pure” U.S. men’s soccer football roster? And the NHL, do Russian players qualify?

Already we are seeing clashes between countries representing each side of the policy, Nigerians and Ghanaians against Somalis and Congolese; Ukrainians versus Brits, Jamaican bobsledders against Norwegians and Germans. If this continues, we can’t even guess where it all will end.

Oh, well, as long as the AFC West remains okay, I’ll just have to accept the status quo and go on with my life.

Always Be Happy  To Our Youth

ANOTHER DILEMMA

February 4, 2016

Another Dilemma

In my last blog, I flirted with the topic of choices and some of the dilemmas created by having such a situation arise. Well, I now have one of an even more serious nature than the life or death occurrences that I’ve had to face recently (I’ve not yet heard from the neurosurgeon in Colorado, but during our brief visit last week he indicated that his first cursory glance at all the xrays, MRI’s, Myelograms, and my picture ID, didn’t show anything needing spinal surgery! He’s to have a closer look on the computer and call me this week).

So here’s my problem: The Super Bowl. Good fortune has placed my two favorite teams against one another, and the outcome might strain some family loyalties. I’ll explain.

During my collegiate years at The University of Kansas in Lawrence, I spent a lot of time in the old gym, shooting baskets and playing pickup games. Often, those activities included some of the school’s football players (yes, during those years they actually had a football team, even one which was in the Orange Bowl!). I sometimes played one-on-one with John Hadl, later to be the quarterback for the San Diego Chargers for many years. Some of our intramural games were against one team composed of subsequent pros; in one such game my forehead was contacted by the forearm of Curtis McClinton, running back for the Chiefs; I was stuck trying to guard Fred Hageman, later the center for the Redskins and about twice my size. Bert Coan, halfback for the Chiefs, and Doyle Schick, a Canadian League fullback, also contributed their fair share of bruises.

About the time we were graduating, the American Football League came into being, and I focused my loyalties on the Kansas City Chiefs, and Lennie Dawson, Otis Taylor, Curly Culp and their colleagues. In those early days, games were played in the Triple AAA Kansas City Blues baseball stadium, and tickets were cheap. However, my being frugal, I would buy the cheapest end zone ticket for $2 (yes, $2!) and as soon as I entered go to the concession stand. There, I would buy two cups of coffee and head to the stairs around the 50 yd. line. As I ascended, the ushers never questioned me, as I “obviously” was returning to my seat with coffee for “my friend” and me. I would find an empty seat and enjoy the game. And I was alone, except for two cups of coffee.

As I left KC, my focus dwindled a bit on football through the years I moved about the country and the world. Ultimately, I met my wife and we moved to Colorado shortly after our wedding so that I could work on a graduate degree. During that time, we had little money so our entertainment was working jigsaw puzzles bought at the local Skaggs drug store, or watching rabbit ears TV. And with little latitude to watch anything else, began to follow the Broncos. We became stalwart fans, and I didn’t suffer too many pangs of guilt when the Broncos played my formerly beloved Chiefs. And we even experienced near-grief when the Broncos lost two Super Bowl appearances in the late 70’s.

By this time, we had produced two sons and they were rapidly indoctrinated along the path of righteousness relative to whom to support in the pigskin world, even without waterboarding. My older son and I even dropped in at a pre-season training camp in Greeley, where he got lots of autographs. Unknowingly, I was wearing the same blue shorts and white shirt that the coaches wore, and several folks approached me for autographs. I didn’t give my right name.

Well, the boys grew up and set about finding their own places in the world. And as they did so, this is where the roots of my current crisis were formed. You see, our older son is an attorney in Charlotte, home of the Panthers, and has one of their more prominent players among his clients. So naturally, this past Christmas I was the recipient of a new Panthers’ hoodie to wear throughout the playoffs. panther hoodie

My other son was pursuing a career as a construction superintendent for large projects, centered in the Dallas area but also in a few other locations such as the new International terminal at LAX, or a 34 story hotel/condo in Ft. Worth. He met his wife in Dallas, spying her wearing a Bronco shirt in an overwhelmingly Cowboy environment. He quickly made his moves with his own Denver outfit, and the two were happily married a couple of years later. The wedding itself was a Bronco celebration; her garter was orange and blue and after removal, stretched around a football to throw to the groomsmen. Each table had a different player’s name, the head table being the Elway table. We sat at the Gradishar table, and in fact Gradishar’s daughter was the wedding photographer! But the ultimate emphasis on this theme came from our daughter-in-law’s mom——she was formerly a Denver Broncos Cheerleader!

And so, at the same time I was receiving that Panther hoodie, I gained another Bronco hoodie to add to my closet, this one from my other son.  broncos hoodie

I wore these on game days throughout the playoffs and had to quickly change between games on Championship Sunday. If one is superstitious, then it could be assumed that it is necessary to don one of these garments in order to assure a victory for the chosen team.

SO WHAT SHOULD I DO SUNDAY? PLEASE HELP!

Always Be Happy   To Our Youth

 

 

SOME OBSERVATIONS FROM A COASTER…

July 11, 2013

Some Observations From a Coaster….

I chose this title upon realizing that my mind seems to drift from one thing to another, with accompanying emotional ups and downs as I pass each experience through my mind’s filter. Just like on one of those giant roller coasters, although I’ve omitted any loud screaming.

There have been a few “white knuckle” moments however, especially when I try to digest the House GOP’s perspective on politics, social programs, and life in general. Take the proposed immigration legislation as an example; they apparently are afraid to provide a “path to citizenship” for the 11 million illegal immigrants, speculating that all of them will vote for the Democrats. This has some truth to it, but what they don’t consider is that if they would come up with sensible proposals and programs, perhaps they would attract many of those folks into the GOP fold. Instead, they continue to obstruct every piece of reasonable legislation, even those proposed by members of their own party, and stand as symbols of intolerance and bigotry. It’s difficult for me to remain a left-leaning Independent, but I’m thankful that the “other side” provides enough nonsense to keep me from going all the way over to that direction.

Obama

I was early on a strong supporter of Obama (and still am), and for quite a while was becoming more and more disenchanted with his apparent inability to follow through on those “ringing phrases” we heard throughout his campaigns. But I finally awoke to the fact that he has proposed well-thought-out legislation and solutions to many of the identified problems, only to have them blocked from proceeding further toward adoption by opponents hostile toward him personally, rather than the concepts themselves. In fact, some of his proposals had been eagerly put forth by those very same individuals, only to have them vote in opposition when he initiated them in the spirit of compromise.

Congress has become a joke, although one that’s not very funny. When 90% of the population is in favor of something, like universal background checks for gun ownership, and Congress votes against it, something is terribly wrong. We might as well throw in several members of the Supreme Court along with them, those stalwarts who set back Civil Rights Progress several decades, and are no doubt involved in finding more ways to restrict women’s rights to make personal decisions about their own bodies. Along with a number of GOP-controlled legislatures.

I can only hope that Obama can weather the storm for the rest of his term, and that people will return to the kind of Republicans that accomplished many significant achievements for this country. Those were people who were ruled by common sense while at the same time adhering to their underlying principles, and having the good of the country as their goal in common with their colleagues across the aisle. Our very own Alan Simpson was a prime example, and we need more like him. So many current members, including those from my state, are little more than ventriloquist dummies in parroting the so-called “platform” of their party. Which apparently has its main goal the maintenance and enhancement of Big Business at the expense of everyone else.

Islamic Radicals

I don’t understand how large numbers of members of certain religions use that religion as an excuse to kill non-believers. I already referred to Mark Twain’s perspective on this, in his short story, “Letters From the Earth”, in a previous blog. But the current clashing between two groups having similar roots, Shiite and Sunni, is completely puzzling to me. Their initial split goes back almost 1800 years, after the death of Mohammed, and continues to grow with each new assault of one group on the other. Both seem to ignore the two main functions of religion, the first the personal aspect in which the individual’s depth of faith to the Deity arises from within the person and provides solace and satisfaction only to the degree of personal commitment, and the second, the guidelines for interpersonal, societal activities that provide a format for maintaining a productive and functioning culture. Religious codes like The Ten Commandments, and secular codes like our Constitution are examples.

So far, no country in the Middle East has had an Islamic-based Constitution, in spite of being overwhelmingly Muslim. However, it appears that there are now groups wanting to go in that direction, and causing significant issues between themselves and others who want to avoid mixing religion with politics. Egypt, for example, has a long tradition of secular government in which numerous religious groups were allowed to flourish. I was struck by the consistent observation of Christian churches adjoining Islamic mosques throughout Cairo although the former only represents perhaps 10% of the population. This mutual respect was further seen in a song by Rula Zaki, popular recording artist and performer in the Middle East, which calls for continuing that respect. I hope that whatever solution is achieved through the current pain and suffering provides for all persons to not only adequately participate in government but also to receive its benefits equally. And I certainly don’t want to see the Lutherans going after the Methodists.

News

Why do the major cable “news” channels feel obligated to devote hours to a couple of courtroom broadcasts of murder trials in a faraway state? Are there really that many people who care? I was frustrated in trying to get updates of the situation in Egypt, having received emails from three of my friends in Cairo during the recent governmental changes. My friends were excited and hopeful, but there seem to have been numerous setbacks and increasing violence as events unfolded. I have great memories of my two visits there last year, and I wanted to know.

At the same time, I wanted more information about the tragic deaths of the firefighters near Prescott, Arizona, where I have friends also. But all that I could get on CNN, MSNBC and yes, even on FOX, were live broadcasts of a murder trial. For hours and hours.

I wonder if other folks share my frustration.

Sports and some rule change proposals

Golf-–I’ve never understood why it’s required to rake a bunker so that the sand is “pristine” for the next victim, that ball marks in the line of one’s putt may be repaired prior to putting, but that if your ball lands in a fairway divot made by a previous player, the ball must be played from that divot. The person who made the divot was hitting from an undamaged spot; the person following should have the same advantage. So change the rule, allow a free drop from a divot, but only a drop, not a placement. And while you’re at it, let us repair spike marks on the greens. Same logic.

Comment: I don’t think golf should be part of the Olympic Games. We already have team competitions and weekly tournaments with essentially the same cast of characters; the best golfers from countries around the world already compete against one another as much as they desire, through the various pro tours and amateur events. I would much rather see wrestling re-instated, after all, it was one of the original events.

Further Comment: As each Olympics is scheduled, cities around the world compete for the opportunity to become greatly indebted in order to build venues which, after the games, will subsequently have only limited use. Quite often, the construction phase uproots many people as whole, usually poor neighborhoods are destroyed in order provide building sites for arenas and other venues. At the same time, some entrepreneurs take advantage of the situation in order to enhance their own personal fortunes, as even occurred in the U.S. in connection with the Salt Lake City Winter Games several years ago. Any financial benefits to the locale are fleeting, if any, and primarily for the few weeks of the games.

Why not build a permanent Olympic facility in Athens, Greece, one that would be used continually as each Olympiad rolls around? Greece certainly could use the jobs required to build the complex, and the income generated continually throughout the future. With the prospect of permanency, adequate hotel and lodging facilities could be added, and used between Olympiads for tourism activity. Et cetera.

Pro football—Change to the college rule that the clock stops when a first down is made, to be restarted when the ball is readied for play. That would speed up the game, particularly in the latter part, when teams use those long times-out just to stop the clock.

Use the college rule on pass interference, a 15 yd. penalty. Currently, the pros place the ball at the spot of the foul, even though it might be 50 yds. downfield. That assumes that the receiver would have caught the ball if the foul had not occurred, which may or may not have been true. The college rule takes into account that although there was a foul and should be punished, we really don’t know if the ball would have been caught.

Basketball (all levels)—Basketball used to be a game of finesse; it has devolved into an activity of strength and speed particularly at the NBA level. I personally don’t even consider that to be basketball, having grown up in a different era. I’m concerned that this change is creeping inexorably downward to the younger players; on ESPN, Jay Bilas made a comment that college basketball is becoming more and more like pro basketball, which he referred to as “Organized Fouling”. His solution—call the fouls as the rulebook states, and we can get back to more of the finesse games of Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Wilt, Cousy, Kareem, and many of the other greats of the game who relied on agility and athletic ability rather than brute strength. That’s not to say those players weren’t strong; I distinctly recall being momentarily stunned when Mr. Chamberlain stuffed one on my head before 12,000 appreciative fans. Mr. Bilas  went on to say, and I agree, that offensive foul calls are the most egregious in either not being called or are favoring the offensive player in spite of good defensive work by the opponent. Quite simply, who initiated the contact and who had the position?

Personal Well-Being

Well, I only seem to be hindered by age factors of deterioration of the spine through the wonders of osteoarthritis. As a nerve becomes inflamed, it sends a message to one or two of the muscles in the back to go into a “knot up” mode, causing significant pain and discomfort. Investigation reveals that the cause cannot be healed, only dealing with the symptoms remains as a solution. If I play a few holes of golf, I suffer for several days thereafter. And just when I discovered that one of my sons joined a club with TWO golf courses. Life is unfair. My doctor and I are investigating other pain management options and hopefully I can become a bit more active in the athletic arena. Still not enough to get in to the Rio Olympics.

The neuropathy in my feet and legs causes some fatigue along with the loss of feeling; ascending stairs and hillsides presents a problem but I can usually achieve the summit given enough time and patience. Like three or four hours. I’ll be riding my bike when the current Global Warming Event decides to withdraw its fangs, at least for a few days or so. It’s 100 today; our summer temperatures are usually in the upper 80’s to 90.

At least I’m healthy enough to resume my traveling, and toying with either New England or Scotland in September. I have a few Wyoming school evaluations to do in October. Until then, I think I”ll stick close to home and work on the golf and fishing.

Always Be Happy      To Our Youth

NEIL AND ME

August 26, 2012

Sometime back in the late 90’s, I was Principal of a residential special education facility serving multiple-handicapped and severely emotionally disturbed youngsters to the age of 21. Given the often stressful  atmosphere, frequently charged with major emotional escalations tainted with violence, most of the staff chose some activity outside the school to provide some relaxation and solace. I like golf.

For many years, participation in sports had been a major interest of mine; although I never was “a star” my own assessment was that I was “better than average”. One of the high points along the way was being a starter on the 1956 University of Kansas freshman basketball team during the annual Freshman-Varsity basketball game to kick-off the season; the highlight was the first varsity appearance of Wilt Chamberlain, and the media was there in force. It was also sort of a low point in my career; at one point during the game I was trapped under the basket when he stuffed one of his classic dunks, right on my head, to the amusement of the 12,000 fans in attendance. The following Monday at practice, I tore some muscles and that essentially ended my dream; that particular injury reappeared on the first day of practice when I had been asked to try out again, as a junior. However, a small photograph appeared in the Paul Hornung Dec. 3 Sports Illustrated, with Wilt soaring high above the hoop and I in my pre-cringing stance peering up through the hoop, in nervous anticipation of things to come.

Other sports also held my interest; for a brief time, I practiced with the university’s tennis team, but quickly lost interest when I realized that although I had enjoyed some success in city tournaments in Kansas City, growing up, I really didn’t have more than a recreational/social commitment to become competitive.

During my sophomore year of college, I fell in with a pack of buddies that decided to enter intramural competition in everything that was offered; I should have concentrated a bit more on my studies rather than badminton, horseshoes, volleyball, tennis and anything else that came along. Our volleyball team was undefeated, having among its members the U.S. Volleyball Coach James Coleman along with two All-Americans. I was directed to be “only a spiker”, and did so happily as the spiking motion is the same as a tennis serve, and I had a fair serve. I however did not have the necessary agility, strength, or quick movement required in volleyball, certainly one of the most athletic of all sports, and I did not commit to further development.

With all this devotion to non-academic pursuits, I made the ”wrong Dean’s List” for the first semester. Fortunately I was able to recover for the second half of the year and get on “the right Dean’s List”, but missed out on some really fun stuff. The satisfactory grades for the second semester helped me to receive a National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Grant in Astronomy, one of my majors along with Mathematics, for my junior year.

Sprinkled throughout the years from age 12 and upward, I had dabbled with golf and found it to be an intellectual activity as well as physical exercise. Each shot, other than those at a driving range, is different from the one preceding and the one after; the lie of the ball on the ground changes as does the target and distance desired. Even the basics of the swing have to be consistently reassessed and modified in order to have a chance for a successful outcome. At the same time, the golfer is really competing against the landscape, not his opponents. A golf match is really saying, “ I can maneuver this ball around this pasture in fewer strokes than you”; there is no opportunity to “play defense” other than perhaps an occasional cough or flatulent interruption in the middle of the opponent’s swing. When you think about professional sports, golf may be the only one where the participant doesn’t get paid until he or she has achieved, from week to week; they don’t have a huge pre-season contract that is based on hope instead of future performance.

As with my involvement with other sports, I considered myself to be “better than average” as a golfer, having tried to learn the game from one of the classic books, “Power Golf” by Ben Hogan (and still available as a paperback).  I remember the excitement of the first time I “broke 80”, at a public course in Kansas City and with some used clubs I had recently purchased from the pro. But again, there was no sense of dedication or commitment although it was more than “a passing fancy”. As a member of the first Peace Corps project, along with my teaching science and math, and initiating basketball, in Ghana, West Africa, I played a few rounds of golf here and there around that country. One had to be careful where one walked; I recall eyeing a recently shed cobra skin on one of the roughly cut fairways. If you hit the ball into the woods (read “jungle”), you sent the caddy in after it, not yourself. I was amazed that they always seemed able to find the ball! During my second year in Ghana, I met another PC volunteer who had come more recently, and I was able to relive those halcyon days of athletic competition in as many sports as possible, during school vacations—one on one basketball, tennis, badminton, ping-pong—anything. Again, it provided a sense of relaxation and relief from stress. (Actually, we still get together periodically, 50 years later, for some golf. He usually wins).

As I changed jobs and locations, academic pursuits, and career options, married and became a parent, golf has been a thread as a side interest to the main foci of my life. When I worked briefly and began graduate work in Anthropology at Columbia University in New York, I indulged myself with 7 ½ hour rounds in Van Cortland Park, in the Bronx. Continuing grad work under a fellowship at Kansas University, there were the sand greens outside of Lawrence, just like some of those in Ghana where there was a special weighted tool used to drag a putting path to the hole. A move to North Carolina introduced me to “real golf”, and I had a membership at Tanglewood outside of Winston-Salem, while filling in as an Anthropology instructor at Wake Forest. A move to UNC in Greensboro brought me to a number of other venues, including the famous Pinehurst #2. A few years later, in the pre-wedding activities of my aforementioned buddy, we played at Cog Hill #5, the famous course in the Chicago area.

A year later, he and his wife introduced me to my wife, a lab partner of theirs in the Biological Science doctoral program at the U. of Illinois. And an athlete! Former Illinois state diving champion at 13, holder of swim records, played college basketball and tennis at a small college north of Chicago, great baseball and softball player—–and somewhat of a golfer (her aunt had won the Illinois State Amateur several times, as well as the Wyoming Women’s Amateur once, and played with the famous women golfers. She had started my wife onto golf).

THE GOLF TEACHER

After we married, we headed to Colorado where I completed my Ed. D. in Educational Change and Development;  we then moved to Wyoming where I was charged with establishing the state’s first middle school program, in the small town of Thermopolis in the Big Horn River Basin. As luck would have it, during the first year a need arose to have someone operate the golf pro shop the following summer, and we were asked to do so. Both us were busy doing other things; I with my school duties and she having our first child, but we hired some of my more reliable students to staff the shop and collect green fees and cart rentals. We also stocked some equipment, and could order just about anything. There was a problem, however—-no one to give lessons. I didn’t feel competent enough to do so, and anyway, if I did I could no longer play in amateur tournaments. What to do?

We discovered that if lessons were given under Adult Education, with me as an educator, I could receive some payment and remain an amateur (certainly my prowess was still at that level, and has definitely remained so). I went back to my “Power Golf” book along with Jack Nicklaus’ “Five Fundamentals”, and anything else I could find. An ad in the local paper, emphasizing group lessons for beginners, gave me the start on a new venture, one that eventually provided me with a great deal of satisfaction as well as new opportunities. To illustrate my need for information, I had to ponder deeply to answer a question posed by a rather chesty young woman in her first lesson—“Do you swing over them or under them?” I decided that “over them” would be best, and confidently resumed the rest of the lesson.

We operated that shop during summers for three years, and along the way managed to upgrade our own ability to play. One year, both of us won the Club Championships; afterward, my wife stopped playing golf and turned her attention to landscaping our new home and working in a variety of part-time jobs in education (college night class teaching), building museum displays, helping friends with establishing new businesses.

LABOR DAY TOURNAMENT

She, however, in collaboration with a man who was the backbone of the golf activity in our town, ran a highly-popular three-day two-person-teams golf tournament every labor day. Her partner in this venture had become fairly wealthy recently, having taken a chance on a nearby oil field where he had worked as a petroleum engineer, and which one of the larger oil companies had acquired and was now “dumping” as not promising future profit. They were wrong and he began enjoying the fruits of his labor; along the way he established friendships and acquaintances with a number of “people in high places”; at the same time, another man who had grown up in our town had become a CEO of a number of national and international businesses, and was a close friend. As a result, the golf tournament brought persons from far-away places to town and was the major social event of the year. One year, I was recruited to be the partner of Tony Tyrone, then President of Warner Brothers and a partner with David Janssen and Frank Sinatra; another year, Don Ameche’s son was a participant. The same teams came every year for over 20 years, flying in from San Francisco, Brussels, Atlanta, and other far-flung places. One participant invited me to “look him up” if I was in his area—I did so later, he lived at Pebble Beach and was a member of Monterey Peninsula Country Club. One year, the Calcutta reached $32,000, and the Saturday night auction was a thing to behold, as “conglomerates” formed in order to pay for the bids.

My wife had become “a legend” in connection with the tournament. With the advent of computers, she began keeping records about every entrant; we learned which persons to un-invite as they were sandbagging with inflated handicaps in order to win money; she kept everyone’s sweater and shirt sizes along with other preferences; there was both a men’s and women’s division. With this information, we selected great tee prizes; I’m still using the Nike duffel bag for all my international travel, after 12 years. The tourney itself was a best ball format, the first day the front nine was played as best ball, the second nine was individual. Two thirds of handicap were used. The second day, the order was reversed, then on the third day back to the original sequence. There were the usual side pots for closest to hole, long drive, shortest drive, long putt made, etc., there was daily day money from the Calcutta, and about a quarter of the field enjoyed standard prizes. Hole-in-one insurance was provided although the one year it wasn’t, our financial backer had to shell out for a prize golf cart.

Unfortunately, the tournament is no more. With changes in personnel, aging and passing of participants, and economic woes, it is only a fond memory.

BEYOND LABOR DAY

In subsequent years, I have worked in several locations around Wyoming while maintaining our primary residence in Thermopolis. My wife has stayed there, our two sons graduating from the local high school and going on to college. She has been a highly-honored teacher in the next town to the North, Worland, and is presently a central office administrator for curriculum and instruction, and educational grant programs. In at least two my other locations, I was asked to provide golf lessons through local adult education, and as usual focused on beginning golfers, especially women. Over the years, I found that the persons easiest to teach were those who had never played any kind of sports but had good coordination; among athletes, the easiest to learn the game were basketball and tennis players; football players and baseball players have the most problems. Of these two groups, the former tend to try and “crush the ball” instead of working on rhythm and timing; the latter have the problem of the dominant right hand which causes slicing, hooking, topping, and other nasty results.

I will shortly be drafting a short “instructional blog” which a beginning golfer could use to get a good start. None of my students hooked or sliced; they could always get the ball up in the air and straight, using the basics I teach. I once read that “the golf swing is the single most complex movement in all of sport”, and I agree. If even the tiniest thing, maybe a hangnail or a blister on the right heel is wrong, the rhythm of the swing can change. I’ve played lots of basketball with minor injuries, and managed to perform adequately. That’s not the case in golf.

Using the proceeds and relationships from my golf instructional career, I’ve played at Pebble Beach (92 from the back tees, two triple bogey’s out of the unfamiliar kind of sand, kikuyu grass and consistently wrong clubs to the sea level greens from my accustomed 7000 ft. elevation in Wyoming), Monterey Country Club (80), Prairie Dunes (Hutchinson, KS, 78). Other opportunities have brought me to other well-known courses including the Myrtle Beach and Charlotte areas of the Carolinas. On recent overseas educational evaluation trips, I played in Germany, Cairo, Japan, and South Korea. I’m tentatively planning a stopover in Scotland next spring, on my way to or from another educational evaluation assignment in either Saudi Arabia or Bahrain.

You may be wondering, what happened to the “Neil and Me” and the opening paragraph? Well, that special education residential facility is located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and if you’re familiar with the area you know it can be expensive. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to afford to play golf there, but I discovered that I could work as a volunteer course ranger at the Teton Pines resort, just a half mile down the road from my school, and play free! I did that for five years and along the way, briefly met or chatted with lots of celebrity-types either visiting or living there. Former Vice-President Cheney has a house on the property, as does former World Bank President James Wolfenson, and as did David Brinkley. Harrison Ford and Jay Rockefeller were listed as members. Among the folks I had the good fortune to meet was Neil Armstrong, who occasionally came to Wyoming probably for R & R. While he was waiting to hit on the 12th tee, I said, “You know, I let you take my place”. He asked me to explain, so I said, “when I entered college in 1956, I wanted to be the first man in space and travel to the moon or Mars. I was to major in Astronomy and Physics, and throw in some Archaeology just in case there would be something “there” to find. I got my degree in Mathematics and Astronomy, and took some Anthropology classes, but I was told that I was too tall to easily fit into any potential space vehicle, and my eyesight wasn’t good enough to be a jet pilot. So that dream ended, and you took my spot.” He found that amusing. He was a fairly decent golfer as well as an astronaut, and much better than many of the other celebs that cluttered up the view of the Tetons.

I almost really took his place several years later; he was to be a guest at the annual meeting of the leaders of the world aircraft industry, held at the A Bar A Dude Ranch in southern Wyoming during the week after Labor Day. I was working in the nearby school district office in Saratoga, Wyoming, and the small airport is annually dwarfed by as many as 39 jets assembled on the apron during the meeting week. The persons operating the dude ranch asked if I would come up and give an astronomy talk one evening—“What, ME? With Neil Armstrong among the participants? You’re out of your mind!”

Always Be Happy!                     Totally Out of the Universe!