'Bionic Man' Leads Fall Frolic
By Jack Berry
Each September, when the club golf season is winding down, some of Michigan's most seasoned professionals gather at Greg Matthews' club to talk about, to talk about -- well, not birdies, bogeys and titanium shafts.
Rather, they gather to talk about the old days and to talk about aches and pains. Hip replacements. New knees. Cardiac procedures. Arthritis remedies.
"We have a great time," Chet Jawor said, laughing, Jawor, one of five brothers who are PGA members, is co-chairman of the Michigan PGA Senior Section's Fall Frolic. "We all kid each other and talk about our operations. It seems like everyone has had one."
Jawor will have plenty to talk about at the September 18 event at Indian Run Golf Club in Portage. Since last September's meeting, he's had three surgeries, two on his kidney and, after a heart attack, a defibrillator was implanted in his chest. He also has cranky knees.
"I'm a bionic man," Jawor, 70, said.
Like his fellow seniors, Jawor hasn't let the aches and pains slow him. After 16 years as head pro for the City of Detroit's six courses and two ranges, Jawor opened a range on Gratiot Ave. in the Detroit suburb of Roseville and he's been a fixture there for 43 years, selling clubs, balls and other equipment and giving his customers the best range balls in the area. Shiny Top-Flite range balls.
"I believe in new balls and new mats," Jawor said. "We keep 50,000 balls in play and sometimes we replace them twice during the season. Then I sell the used balls to my competitors."
Jawor is on duty seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. from mid-March until Nov. 1. After hosting a dinner for his staff of 20 employes, some of them with him from 25-30 years, Jawor heads to Florida to play some golf on his own at Ironhorse in West Palm Beach, where he's a member, and at PGA National, home of the PGA of America. And he can play -- drives down the middle and, if he misses a green occasionally, he's deadly at getting up and down.
Jawor returns for a Christmas party for his customers and cooks Polish delicacies himself -- it's the personal touch that keeps people coming back.
Jawor said last year would be his last as co-chairman of the Fall Frolic but he hasn't been able to get away with it.
"It's a lot of work. But we don't have too many senior events and it's fun to see everyone at the end of the season. And each year we honor a senior who has done something for golf. This year it's going to be Don Glover who was sales rep for Wilson and Hagen golf for years. Don always boosted the professional and he's done a lot of charity work."
Some of the previous honorees were rules expert Warren Orlick, former National PGA and Michigan PGA president and professional emeritus at Tam O'Shanter Country Club; the late Don Soper, a National PGA director and strong promoter of golf in metropolitan Detroit, and Bill Hyde, longtime volunteer worker at PGA tournaments and member of the Advisory Board, and Ernie Fuller, owner of the Links of Pinewood and former member of the National PGA Advisory Board.
Greg Matthews and his wife, Jan, also have been honored. Matthews lost his sight while he was professional at the Kalamazoo Elks Club but fought his way through it and continued to serve as professional. He went on to Pine View Golf Club at Three Rivers and now has switched to Indian Run at Portage.
"Greg has been a big supporter of the Fall Frolic," Jawor said, "and this year we're going to have a barbecue at the club the night before the tournament."
Not only is there a big turnout of seniors, like co-chairman Jack Clark, a former Michigan PGA president and now retired from Gowanie Golf Club, Sam Drake of Point O'Woods, Ron LaParl of Battle Creek and Jawor brothers Frank, former Michigan PGA president, and Stan, two-time Michigan PGA Seniors champion, but equipment company representatives, golf course superintendents, friends and media representatives make it a field of 35 four-player teams for a full slate of 140 players.
There's also a full collection of copper wrist bands, braces and Advil bottles.
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