Interviewing 10 Champions Tour Players about Golf’s Olympic Spirit

Andy Reistetter with Mike Hulbert at the Champions Tour's AT&T Championship at TPC San Antonio.

Andy Reistetter with Mike Hulbert at the Champions Tour’s AT&T Championship at TPC San Antonio.

I have much to update on my thoughts on what defines the “Olympic Spirit of Golf and Golfers” with an Olympic visit to Atlanta, playing Glen Echo CC, host to the 1904 Golf Olympics, being with U.S. Open Champion Jack Fleck, being around the spirit of Byron Nelson at the Fours Seasons Resort & Club Dallas and Bloggers, Breakfast & Birdies (Twitter #BBBatTPC) behind me. I interviewed ten Champions yesterday here at TPC San Antonio and captured much more insight. As I digest these interviews and share what I learned I will begin to put down on paper what is emerging from this Odyssey- the “Olympic Spirit of Golf and Golfers!”

CLICK here for the video interview with Mike Hulbert.

More videos, pictures, & posts coming… what would you like me to write about?

Bob Pickens, Olympic Wrestler

Bob Pickens has a lot to say and if you listen closely his words, though softly spoken, are very intense and powerful.

CLICK here for Part 1 of Video Interview with Bob Pickens, Olympic Wrestler, who finished 6th in the world in 1964!

CLICK here for Part 2 of Video Interview with Bob Pickens, first African American Olympic Wrestler!

Andy Reistetter with 1964 Olympic Wrestler Bob Pickens

Andy Reistetter with 1964 Olympic Wrestler Bob Pickens

A bit elusive on how he lost he focus early on in life, Bob is extremely clear calling it a “personal redemption” to become an Olympian. He credits his high school wrestling coach’s challenge of “if you are so bad, why don’t you come and try out for the wrestling team” along with his unfailing support as being instrumental in his life.

A man with a deep personal faith and a “no drugs, no whiskey” attitude knows that “if (a challenge) doesn’t destroy you, it builds strength that you did not know you had.” The Olympics for him was an experience, not a dream- something he worked hard for and achieved.

The Olympic Spirit, in Bob’s words, is “absolute competition,” and it “swallows you!”

CLICK here for Bob Pickens’ website

From an amazing journey to Tokyo to compete as a Greco-Roman wrestler in the 1964 Olympics.to playing as an offensive tackle for his beloved Chicago Bears..From pursuing a successful business career spanning over 30 years as an executive and entrepreneur for Sears, Rainbow Classics and Merrill Associates.serving as a civic leader and to tirelessly reaching back to mentor a new generation of eager achievers.it all started as a “Little fat boy behind the piano.”

Inspires, Mentors, Empowers…

More videos, pictures, & posts coming… what would you like me to write about?

Dennis Berkholtz, Olympic Team Handball & Coach

CLICK here to meet Olympian Dennis Berkholtz

CLICK here to learn about the Olympic Qualifying Process from Dennis Berkholtz

Olympian Dennis Berkholtz pointing to the 1996 Olympic Handball Golf Medalists.

Olympian Dennis Berkholtz pointing to the 1996 Olympic Handball Golf Medalists.

After a Farewell at TPC Sawgrass, the “Journey to Olympic Golf” started in Atlanta which hosted the Summer Games in 1996. I stopped there to capture the spirit of the 1996 Games and that is exactly what happened. I was hosted by 1972 Olympian Dennis Berkholtz who also was an Olympic Coach in 1976. His sport was Team Handball and he can thank Uncle Sam for pointing him in that direction. A gifted athlete, he was “All-Army” in four sports but became the “Forest Gump of Team Handball.” If you are like me, you are thinking American Handball, hitting a small rubber ball, usually in an indoor court, against a wall so that your opponent cannot return it. Team Handball, or Olympic or European Handball is different and played on a larger court with six outfielders and a goalie. You can pass the ball and the objective is to score by throwing the volleyball-sized ball into the goal of the other team.

CLICK here for Team Handball (Wiki)

CLICK here for the USA Team Handball Introductory Video

Andy Reistetter with Olympian Dennis Berkholtz in the Bobby Jones Room at Eastlake Golf Club.

Andy Reistetter with Olympian Dennis Berkholtz in the Bobby Jones Room at Eastlake Golf Club.

The videos I did with Dennis speak for themselves in terms of how to become an Olympian and what it means and feels like to be an Olympian. I had never personally known an Olympian before I met and spent a weekend with Dennis. All I can say is that it was a wonderful experience and I learned so much about the Olympic Spirit from this man. For the first stop on the “Journey to Olympic Golf” trying to define what the “Olympic Spirit is for Golfers” this was a huge first step and will put the rest of the 3-month odyssey in perspective. Thank you Dennis Berkholtz!

More videos, pictures, & posts coming… what would you like me to write about?

 

 

 

 

Bess Turk, Woman Golf Spiritualist

CLICK here for VIDEO Interview with Bess Turk, Woman Golf Spiritualist.

CLICK here for Spiritual Golf, Fairway to Heaven, Golf in the Scottish Kingdom

The purpose of this programme is to expand our mastery and enjoyment of the game at whatever level we play. Ultimately, the way we play golf, like any other sport, is about our relationship to ourselves – seeking to enhance our understanding of life and reaching our potential.

Throughout the week, we learn about the ‘inner game’ – gaining insight into our playing strengths that ultimately bring us to our desired level.

The ‘inner game’ is about what goes on beneath the surface – our mental and emotional states not visible to someone watching. Often we may not be aware of them ourselves. Paying clear attention to our ‘inner states’ and external surroundings help us play more rewarding golf.

We work with techniques and approaches that enhance the way we play and enjoy the game.

There is a growing interest worldwide in a more ‘spiritual’ approach to golf, from the rise of Tiger Woods practising meditation and coming from a Buddhist background, to other golf professionals who embrace another dimension of the game beyond the purely technical.

More videos, pictures, & posts coming… what would you like me to write about?

Calvin Peete, 1985 PLAYERS Champion

I sat down and interviewed Calvin Peete on the terrace of the Clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass, Home of THE PLAYERS Championship and Mr. Peete’s biggest victory in the his professional golf career. He was engaging, humble and very interesting. Afterwards we went out to the back of the practice range where he hit the golf ball with a hickory-shafted golf club for the first time!

CLICK here for VIDEO Interview with Calvin Peete (Part 1).

CLICK here for VIDEO Interview with Calvin Peete (Part 2)

More videos, pictures, & posts coming… what would you like me to write about?

 

 

 

Jennifer Salles-Cunha with an Olympic Swimmer Perspective

CLICK here to see video of Jennifer Salles-Cunha Interview

Andy Reistetter interviewing Jennifer Salles-Cunha.

Andy Reistetter interviewing Jennifer Salles-Cunha.

I have always said Ponte Vedra Beach is the World Capital of Golf with the PGA TOUR headquartered here, THE PLAYERS and the nearby World Golf Hall of Fame. I thought I needed to go on a 13,000 mile journey to define the ‘Olympic Spirit for Golfers’ when in reality it has been in my own back yard. Along with recent experiences, the HEAL and First Tee events at the Clubhouse and being with Mike Reeder, ParaOlympic To Be Golfer Extraordinarie at Sawgrass CC I had an opportunity to interview Jennifer Salles-Cunha who brought an insightful look at what it takes to be an Olympic swimmer.

Connections between golf and swimming? Why not? When I interviewed surfer Kelly Slater he referenced utilizing Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons book and applying some golf techniques to surfing. One thing I realized speaking with Jennifer is that the Olympics all comes down to one day’s performance, there are no second chances. So the mindset of a swimmer and a golfer competing in the Olympics may be more similar than we think.

I first met Jennifer because of her connection with Brazil and Rio de Janeiro. I am happy I spoke with her about the logistics of my trip. But her insight applied to the ‘Olympic Spirit for Goflers’ was really interesting though she was careful to limit her expertise to swimming.

Here are some of my thoughts. She started at age 7 and dedicated her life for the next 13 years to preparing for the Olympic swimming trials in L.A for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munic. when she was 20. Certainly no regrets there as she is in a perfect place in life coaching in her beloved sport and helping others achieve the Olympic aspiration. Olympic swimming is a ‘lifetime journey.’ So is golf evidence the Tiger Woods phenomenon. I love that you can play golf for a lifetime!

Swimmers, like golfers, need to stay calm and stay loose. As far as wanting adrenalin I think swimmers do and golfers would rather not have it. Though if they have adrenalin in a competitive situation (and most do even Tiger Woods), they need to be aware of it when making club selections.

Good food for thought as I journey to define the ‘Olympic Spirit for Golfers’ on my way to Rio!

Jennifer coached Anthony Ervin at the Canyons Aquatic Club in Santa Clarita, California.   At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, he won a golf medal in the men’s 50-meter freestyle, and earned a silver medal as a member of the second-place U.S. relay team in the 4×100-meter freestyle event. He is the first swimmer of African American descent to medal in Olympic swimming (Wiki reference).

Jennifer also helps Stroke Victims at the UNF:

The lead trainer for the swim clinic is Jennifer Wish Salles-Cunha, who trained under two Hall of Fame coaches. She held many national records as an age-group swimmer and went on to several Senior National Championships and the U.S. Olympic Trials. She has produced Olympic Gold medalist Anthony Ervin, 16 nationally top-ranked swimmers as well as junior and senior national qualifiers.

 

 

Mike Reeder, Inspiring Paralympic Golfer in 2020

 

Interviewing Mike Reeder at Sawgrass CC after he played in a Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) fundraising event.

Interviewing Mike Reeder at Sawgrass CC after he played in a Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) fundraising event.

I had an opportunity to meet someone extraordinary today—Mike Reeder who plays competitive golf from a wheelchair. That is at least most of the time. Inside 60 yards and on the green he walks on his knees to pitch, chip and putt. Though a physical phenom, what is remarkable is his demeanor, wit and ability to live life to its fullest in the present moment. Ever have a touch of self-pity? Get over it and get to know this man. While he is hoping for golf to come to the Paralympics in 2020 like it is coming to the Summer Olympics in 2016, I think his attitude, perspective and spirit will be right there with the Olympic golfers in Rio de Janeiro.

CLICK here for the VIDEO Interview with Mike Reeder at Sawgrass CC

Listen to the birds tweeting in this interview and the words of Mike Reeder, a man who shot 79 on the Old Course and 77 on the Jubilee Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. What is his secret to being happy in life and on the golf course? It takes trial & error and to play within yourself. Find out what changed his life.

CLICK here for VIDEO of Mike Reeder teeing off and carrying his team!

CLICK here for VIDEO of Mike Reeder’s pre-shot routine teeing off on a par-3!

CLICK here for VIDEO of Mike Reeder’s pre-shot routine putting on the green!

CLICK here for link to Mike Reeder’s website ForeWheel Golf.com

CLICK Here for ESPN’s Ben Houser’s article & video on Mike Reeder playing the Old Course!

Okay enough clicking! A couple of more thoughts on Mike and his golf game. He has only one spike- the one he uses to anchor his wheelchair to the ground. We have anywhere from 7 to 10 on each of our shoes. The length of his putter is 18 inches and is legal per USGA rules. He makes Robert Garrigus look like he is using a long putter. Mike is a funny guy commenting after the round that “I am going to change wheelchairs and get into something a little more comfortable.

Mike Reeder has his name on his golf bag for a reason!

Mike Reeder has his name on his golf bag for a reason!

Mike gave me a lot of food for thought as I search for the meaning of Olympic Spirit for Golfers. He wears some of it right there for all of us to see- his patriotic shirt. So yes playing for your country, patriotism is surely a part of the Olympic Spirit. I liked when Mike said “you don’t have to be in a military uniform to be a patriot.” With the Olympics though there is less of a sense of competition among nations as there is an individual or a team striving to do their very best, perhaps set a new world or Olympic record to prove we have grown, we have advanced during the last four years.

For me, that is the story of Mike Reeder. Being the best we can be this very day given and accepting where we are in life. Maybe something tragic happens to us, maybe it doesn’t in our lifetime. Either way we search and find out who we are, what our talents are, what our contributions to the world are to be and simply be the person we were meant to be. Mike is right there for all to see, play golf with and enjoy time spent together. Like I said in the video I think it will be difficult to find a more inspiring person to meet as I go on the “Journey to Olympic Golf.”

As a postscript to this article Mike played the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass the next day and shot an 85 with a flat tire. Astounding performance! I am now on record as believing Mike will play in the 2020 Golf Paralympics! He deserves the opportunity to compete at that level, same as Tiger Woods in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Sawgrass CC, an idyllic place to live, play golf and meet great people!

Sawgrass CC, an idyllic place to live, play golf and meet great people!

One quick plug for Sawgrass CC where their slogan “Ocean to Green and Everything in Between” rings true. From their oceanfront beach club to 27 holes of championship golf where five PLAYERS Championships were played between 1977 and 1981 before TPC Sawgrass was built this is the golfing community in Northeast Florida. Celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2014, please call Janet Collins at 904.273.3708 and click this link to go to the Sawgrass CC website.

Mike Reeder is a man on the move with wheelchair in tow!

Mike Reeder is a man on the move with wheelchair in tow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Reeder Andy Reiistetter Sawgrass CC

An enjoyable day on the links at Sawgrass CC with Mike Reeder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLICK here for the link to the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF).

Here are some pictures from their signature event- The Sand Diego Triathlon Challenge:

RunSwimBikeVictory

 

ING Contacts are Key to Success

What better place to announce a “Journey to Olympic Golf” than at the International Network of Golf (ING) 23rd Annual Spring Conference at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida?

What better place to meet people than at an “International Network of Golf” function especially if you are planning an international charity raising golf trip like “Journey to Olympic Golf (JTOG).”

Join ING

Golf’s “Granddaddy” of networking organizations, ING is “where media and the golf industry connect.” Not only did I benefit from three outstanding educational seminars addressing key areas in the game and business of golf (Wellness, Social Media Marketing and Golf Club Technology), I met some wonderful people who took an interest in my JTOG venture. Here are just a few of them.

Nancy Fox (The Business Fox, Networking Expert & Author) showed me how to embrace the opportunity to develop and nurture relationships over the four-day ING conference. As part of the Social Media Marketing panel she shared her experience, strength and wisdom on how to build successful business relationships, in person and on line. I highly recommend her book Network Like a Fox and the associated workbook. Find her now, she can help your business inside or outside of golf!

Andy Fox is OutFoxing Cancer…

CLICK here for video interview of Andy Fox

Andy Fox’s ‘Out Fox Cancer’ Website

Andy Fox explaining his cancer screening foundation and how to outfox cancer.

Andy Fox explaining his cancer screening foundation and how to outfox cancer.

I met a great guy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament at Bay Hill this year! His name is Andy Fox and he is a great guy for reasons other we have the same first name.

His story is inspirational, something that could have happened to any of us. Happily married with two young boys he had his wisdom teeth removed. There was still pain and then the doctors found Stage 4 cancer. Seventeen years ago he was told he had a 10 percent chance of survival.

Andy Fox has outfoxed cancer and through his cancer screening foundation he is using a peer based system to raise awareness. He believes in the Fs—family, faith, friends, fitness and being forward-looking.

“Get rid of the rear view mirror,” says Andy Fox. We can all do that!