Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

From the Editor Terry Moore

A drive out of bounds. A wedge shot chunked into the bunker. A skulled chip shot over the green. A lipped out two-footer. Yes, golf can be a cruel, frustrating game even when all these dire events don't occur on the same hole. Then along comes a young golfer by the name of David Boeve and the game is good and innocent once more.

I read about Boeve last October in a fine story written about him by Traverse City Record-Eagle's Keith Smith. Smith wrote about the then sophomore Boeve who was a key member of the Traverse City Christian boys golf team. At the time, Boeve was helping his team to a no. 4 ranking in the state Class D ratings, averaging in the high 40s for nine holes as the fifth and sometimes fourth man on the team. That's some respectable scoring for Boeve considering two vital points: 1) he had only been playing golf for a year and 2) he was born without a left arm from the elbow down. And to the enthusiastic, positive-minded Boeve, the former point is more a handicap than the latter. As Smith wrote last year: "Boeve, the oldest of four children, gives little thought to his handicap. In fact, he hesitates to use the word "handicap" when talking about his arm." When asked about his left arm, Boeve told Smith this simple but hard-earned truth: "I guess I decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to let it bother me." Last season, Boeve struggled with his driver and understandably so. You see, he griped the club with one hand, gripping down on it to give him more control. He didn't hit it far but it usually found the fairway. His lack of distance was compensated by a savvy short game. His coach, George Vozza, labeled him the "best putter on the team." Vozza also described Boeve, who also competes in varsity basketball and baseball, "as an all-around great young man with a terrific personality." Just as quickly, Coach Vozza adds this important tidbit about his unassuming player: "He's one of the guys." Not surprisingly, Boeve was instrumental in his team's success last season that ended in a 7th place finish at the Class D State Finals.

But watch out this year. As a returning junior, Boeve is poised for even better things on the links. When I spoke to his mother Sally last month, she told me her son was working at Grand Traverse Resort. "David's had a great summer job at the Resort," she said. "He's worked on the bag drop and on the range and best of all he's able to play for free on his days off."

Sally proudly reports that due to his increased play her son's scores have improved as well. "When he's playing well, he's scoring in the high 30s for nine." And to think he's played for only two years? Maybe life is unfair. Sally did say that the fickle finger of golf has tweaked her son's game. "Yes, his driver has come around just as his short game has fallen off." But what hasn't fallen off is her son's perseverance and competitive fire. "David has always accomplished whatever he set his mind to," said Sally. As she related to Smith: "Ever since he was a little guy he's never let anything slow him down. When he was about nine months old, he was fitted with a prosthesis. But he was one of the few kids who didn't use it."

This fall I'll be looking for Boeves name in the newspaper as the prep season takes to the greens. He'll be one of thousands of young men and women (who tee it up in the spring, as does the UP) who play golf as a high school sport. In golf circles nowadays, the buzz phrase is how the industry can "grow the game." With ever more courses being built and the market share pie being sliced even thinner, isn't it more vital than ever to have good golf coaches, involved parents and enthusiastic varsity golfers such as David Boeve? For sure, owners and operators should thank the efforts of the Michigan High School Athletic Association in general and the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association in particular. Both are doing their part in growing the game. I think back about my old high school golf coach and the small but important role he had in my golf development. Jules Sommers was his name and he couldn't play a lick. Oh, he urged us to work us on our short game all the time but really he wasn't much of a golfer. Yet he was a scratch player when it came to setting standards and model behavior on and off the course. Etiquette, knowing the rules and being a gentleman were paramount with Coach Sommers. And if a player was struggling with his game he was there to offer support and encouragement. Today, my high school alma mater is fortunate to have another conscientious golf coach, Ted Hillary, leading the team. A highly regarded and nationally known college basketball official, Hillary is in his second year as Grand Rapids Catholic Centrals boys golf coach. He embodies the best we can ask of our coaches: he's fair; he's energetic; and he cares about each member of his team. As a bonus, he's a good player in his own right. But as Hillary would be the first to say, playing the game well and carding low scores are not what it's all about. What kind of person one is on and off the golf course is what really matters. In fact, Payne Stewart attributed his stellar play in winning his second Open to a spiritual transformation within himself. As he told the press gathering in Pinehurst: "Without the peace I have in my heart, I wouldn't be sitting here in front of you."

That's why I also liked the story of former Detroit Pistons teammates Adrian Dantley and Joe Dumars as told by USA TODAY basketball writer David Dupree. One day, the veteran Adrian Dantley told Dupree: "This guy Dumars is something special. Get to know him." Considering Dumars was only in his second season in the NBA, Dupree asked Dantley what the young guard "can do to get you so excited about him." Without hesitation, Dantley looked the reporter in the eye and said, "It's not what he can do, it's who he is."

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