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Golf is third

Mike Vidakovich
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Throughout my life, sports has always been about competing hard and trying to win. Sure, it’s always fun just to get out and play, but competition is made much more enjoyable when you come out on top.

Losing at anything has always been a source of consternation for me. It rankles to the core. To quote President John F. Kennedy, “Victory has a hundred fathers, while defeat always is an orphan.”

I couldn’t agree more.



Many years ago, a youth soccer coach informed me that no game scores were kept because league organizers didn’t want to expose the kids to losing at a young age and hurt their self-esteem.

Huh?



More and more American elementary and middle schools are doing away with activities such as spelling bees and chess tournaments because only one person can win and the rest lose. I find this philosophy incomprehensible.

One thing is for sure, if you’re going to compete and learn how to win, you have to learn to deal with the flipside of the situation, which is losing. In the end, we’re all losers anyway, so why not keep score along the way?

The subject of not keeping score came up again recently when I chatted with Aspen Glen Golf Club course ranger Doug Kelch.

Kelch is an affable gentleman who always seems happy and is quick to greet you with a smile. His retirement job of shepherding golfers along the 18-hole layout of Aspen Glen and keeping slow play at a minimum is perfect for someone like Kelch, who has a profound love for the game of golf.

When I asked Kelch the question that I ask of all of my golfing friends, “How’s your game?” I got a response which was much more than I ever expected – and pleasantly so.

“Mike, golf is third,” said Kelch, with an uncharacteristic serious look on his face.

When I heard this, I thought Kelch might be comparing the game of golf with Gale Sayers’ book, I Am Third, which refers to God being first, family and friends second, with Sayers being third.

At this point, I was expecting Kelch to try and sign me on as some type of religious convert but instead he enlightened me in a much different way.

“I play Ranger Golf. I hit until I’m happy, and I don’t keep score,” Kelch said proudly.

Kelch is joined in his weekly golf outing by fellow Aspen Glen ranger Thom Peabody, along with friends Marion Winkler and Buddy Burr.

Apparently the entire group subscribes to the three set-in-stone rites of Ranger Golf: 1. The experience of fresh air, sunshine and exercise are paramount to how well one plays. No score is kept; 2. The camaraderie of being with friends; 3. Golf Is Third.

Kelch went on to say that, “We all applaud the good shots and we don’t worry about the bad ones.”

The good-natured Kelch was even kind enough to extend an invitation for me to join the Ranger Group for a golf outing in the near future. I gladly accepted the offer with a wry smile and on one condition.

“I don’t do mulligans and I have to keep score!”

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer for the Post Independent.


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