'Mr. Knickers'
The game of golf is the game of life says Rotary speaker

Mr. Knickers
Mr. Knickers -- "You've got to have a plan"
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"... sometimes we end up in the woods ..."
March 10, 2009

The surprise speaker who appeared at the Putnam Rotary luncheon was none other than "Mr. Knickers," broadly known as the leading world expert on the game of golf and its relevance as a philosophy of life and service to others.

"[As in the game of life,] in the game of golf you have to have a plan," the expert sportsman told his audience.

"This scorecard here," he said producing a card for Little Creek Golf Course where the 14th Annual Rotary Golf Tournament is set for next August 10th, "is not just a scorecard, but it also has the layout of the golf course.

"Professional golfers -- the first thing they'll do is to pull out this little book and study it.

"Every hole is designed. They know exactly how far it is to this trap, how far it is to that tree, how far it is to the front of the green, to the back of the green.

"You see, you've got to have a plan. And that's what our golf committee did last week. They set in place a plan, just like you do when you play golf.

"Now, one of the objects of golf is to keep it in the middle, to keep it in the fairway, and to keep your ball heading toward the goal.

"And as Rotarians, that's also where we want to be with this golf [tournament] fundraiser.

"We want to keep it in the middle. We want to keep it where it's easy to make the progress that we need to make, just like the golfer does in the game of golf.

"But, as we've seen, last week Tiger Woods hit a bad shot and he ended up in a hazard.

"In the game of golf, there are hazards, and in the game of golf one of those hazards is a sand trap.

"When you get into a sand trap, it's not impossible to get out. But every golf pro, every golf teacher, will tell you that when you get into a trap, after you choose the club that you are going to use to advance the ball, the most important thing that you do is to follow through.

"If you don't follow through, and you stop your club right there," Knickers said halting in a mid-swing, "your ball is going to stay in the sand.

"Well, that's the way it is with our golf fundraiser. We've got to plan. And sometimes we stray, we don't stay right down the middle, and we find ourselves in a sand trap.

"And you realize that you haven't done everything that you might have done to make this hole a success. So you decide you're going to do better, and you're going to call this person, and you're going to visit that person. You might even make a list.

"But then, you don't follow through. And you just stay right there in that trap.

"One of the other hazards in the game of golf is the water hazard. When you get into a water hazard, you've got to pay a penalty. It costs you a stroke.

"I liken that to Rotarians who started off with a plan, kept it in the middle, but then strayed a little bit too far and got into the water hazard. And then they just gave up. And then we are penalized.

"In the game of golf you have two goals: you have a secondary goal, and an ultimate goal.

"When I'm back here in the tee box, and I'm getting ready to start," said the golfing guru as he addressed an imaginary ball, "I know that this hole is a par four. If I take four shots and get the ball in the cup, then I've parred the hole.

Golf Ball
"The secondary goal that you have is to reach the green in 'regulation.' You want to get there in two shots. If it's a par three, you get there in one shot, and that gives you two putts to par the hole.

"So the secondary goal is pretty important, to reach that green in regulation.

"But if we stray, we end up in a sand trap, or we end up in a water hazard, sometimes we end up in the woods -- of course, it never happened to me -- that secondary goal is to be successful in reaching our ultimate goal.

"We want to get there in regulation. We want to achieve everything that we're trying to achieve. And the ultimate goal is to put the ball in the cup.

"Now," asked Knickers, "what is the ultimate goal of our golf fundraiser [next August 10th at Little Creek]? It's to raise money," he answered.

"And we have an amount in mind that we want to raise. And it's going to take all of us in order to get there.

"We've got a good start! In fact, we've got a pretty good jump start on this thing. We're pretty excited about that.

"But the ultimate goal is to raise the money -- not for us -- but for others.

"You see, Rotary is all about 'Service Above Self.' And all we're doing in this golf outing is just that, putting 'Service Above Self.'"

Putnam Rotary supports numerous community service projects with its tournament proceeds.

"We want to reach that ultimate goal," said Knickers.

"Now every golfer will tell you that if they can reach that cup in three shots instead of four - Wow!

"in the game of golf they call that a 'birdie.' That means you've done exceptionally well.

"Wouldn't it be great in our golf fundraiser to get a birdie? To do far beyond what our expectations were? Far beyond what our ultimate goal was, just to par the hole?

"I think it's possible that we can do that," Knickers continued. "But we've got to stay focused.

"Golf is not a game of 'perfect.' Occasionally we're going to hit a bad shot. Occasionally we're not going to do everything that we're supposed to do.

"Our golf fundraiser is not a game of 'perfect.' But that doesn't mean that we quit. It means that we keep on going. We pick up from where we left off, and we keep on going.

"When you join Rotary you either become a member of a club -- or you become a Rotarian. Which are you? Are you just a member, or are you a true Rotarian, willing to go out there and do 'Service Above Self'?"

Green

No background information was available beforehand on Mr. Knickers, but several perceptive Rotarians noted that he bore an uncanny resemblance to Putnam's own international business consultant, author and motivational speaker, Chet Marshall. And, yes, Papa Chet, as he is affectionately called, has been known to negotiate a few bunkers and water hazards on his way to the greens of life.

But unfortunately, while Papa Chet had been present earlier at today's meeting, he was not in the crowd to hear the presentation by Mr. Knickers. Tournament chairman Eric Pritt speculated that Marshall may have left the meeting early to get in a practice round before the 14th Annual Rotary Golf Tournament scheduled for Monday, August 10th, at Little Creek.


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