A blog to acknowledge those who should have been acknowledged and thanked more appropriately before, and to possibly help you in your lives and career by provoking thought, reflection and reading material that might well alter your career and life. If it prompts you to contemplate and acknowledge those in your life, even better.

The Early Years in Golf

As promised in my last entry, this one is dedicated to Palmer Maples, Sr., Wayne McKinney and Joe Fitzpatrick as I learned a great deal from each of them, much of which resonates with me today. Every time I catch myself doing something or saying something they advocated, it brings a smile to my face that time can not erase.

PALMER MAPLES, SR.-  Palmer was a classic, who came from a legendary golf family.  Many golf architects, greens superintendents, and golf professionals came from the Maples lineage.  Palmer had been a very successful Golf Professional in North Carolina and Virginia and ultimately retired in Florida.  Ed Justa (the subject of one my past posts to the blog) convinced Palmer to come out of retirement to teach at Cypress Creek. Ed was inexorably tied to Palmer as Palmer had taught the game of golf several years earlier in North Carolina.  Palmer had a passion for teaching and had a unique way to relate to several types of students.  What I remember learning from Palmer was the ability to teach a complex physical skill by breaking it down into its smallest components. Palmer used continual student feedback and the past experiences of his pupils (he got from interviewing them as he taught) so that each of his students could relate to what he was trying to communicate.  The most important lesson Palmer taught me was IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE TEACHER TO MEET THE STUDENT WHERE THEY ARE versus make the student meet the teacher where he or she is.  From there, he artfully used their experiences to modify his methodology and teaching style to match the student.  To this day, I still believe the teacher needs to commence the teaching experience where the student is to develop a customized training plan. I have attempted to utilize this methodology my entire career.

Far and away the most important lesson I learned from Palmer was a steep sense of tradition for the craft you have chosen, as well as the love of family traditions. He passed along all these ideals to everyone he taught and for that I will be forever grateful.

JOE FITZPATRICK- Joe was a retired Martin Marietta employee (as I recall) and worked as a starter / ranger at Cypress Creek.  He was a fairly short in stature but had a huge heart and even larger sense of self worth. He was a man who believed in rules for all, never favoring the advantaged.  One of the examples that come to mind is when Cypress Creek became a joint venture of Major Realty (original owner) and Gulf Oil (new partner) the Chairman of Gulf Oil was "caught parking" in the fire lane outside the main entrance and Joe (in his not so subtle style) asked him to move it to the parking lot where it belonged.  The Chairman led with his chin by saying "do you know who I am" to which Joe promptly retorted "I don't care if you are the Queen of England, a fire lane is a fire lane and it says no parking....might I move your car for you?" As you might imagine, my boss (Ed Justa who was the subject of my last post) was mortified and feared that it might cause him his job.  About that time, The Gulf Oil Executive walked into the pro shop and asked who the diminutive man was who asked him to re-park his car, and Ed started to apologize, when the executive cut Ed off at the pass and said the rules are the rules, and he owed Joe an apology.  Further he expanded, if more people were like Joe, the word would be a more tolerable place.  I remember thinking to myself at the time that being true to the rules, and being true to your self as I was taught as a kid would serve me well.

Most importantly I learned from Joe that life was far too short, and you needed to tell those you love that you love them and to cherish your family most of all. Joe never left the house, or let one of his family members leave without saying he loved them, and when asked why, Joe simply said, you never know when your time is up...pretty tough to argue the logic in retrospect.


Wayne was the first Assistant Golf Professional, and 13 years my senior when I started into the golf business in Florida.  Wayne took me under his wing professionally and personally as I was so far out over my skis it was not funny. Wayne taught me merchandising, club repair, sales and many of the ins and outs of my new found profession. Obviously, I was familiar with golf, but not the business of golf so I was grateful for the help.  Wayne also guided me into my love of Junior Golf, as he assisted me in the formation of the Orlando-Land Golf Association (later to  be further expanded and led by one of the original board members Dick Eckstein).  Wayne is still involved in Junior Golf some 40+ years later in Southeastern Florida with the Gold Coast Junior Golf Foundation.  Ultimately due to my involvement in Junior Golf on the national scene I came to know Kay Cornelius, Dottie Pepper, Melissa McNamara, and Billy Andrade to name a few (all know either on the senior tour or nearing that threshold).  Ironically, this must mean I am not 39 anymore!!!

Since Wayne is the only one of these three gentleman still living...Wayne I want to thank you for sharing your knowledge, guidance, and passion for the sport and business of golf.  Also, thank you for offering to help my son Drew (now at PGA Headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens).  The circle of giving continues many years later.

For those of you that have followed my blog from the beginning, you can hear some of each of these gentleman in the stories I have shared with you, or have seen them in the style (or lack thereof) I have exhibited. Each of them helped me out when I was in search of my style and stride in starting my career in the golf business.  My hope is that you take time to thank some of those who helped you in the beginning even if deceased to close the circle of karma. Until next time....

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