Postcards From the Road to Self-discovery



Somebody cue me up a rap beat. Something like….

Where ya been, Jay? Where ya been?
Where ya been, Jay? Where ya been?

I wish I had a snarky response Something like…

I been tourin’ everywhere, bringin’ all this world joy,
On a multi-year mission tryin’ to merch and destroy,
Been to Pittsburgh, been to Cali, been to Sugarbush and back,
Still rockin’ all you golf fans in my Forsgate hat!

But, sadly that’s not the case. It was a famous civil rights lawyer named Oscar Zeta Acosta who said, “You don’t send many postcards from the Road to Self-Discovery.” And for your Author, it’s been a year of introspection, struggle, physical pain, and change. You’ll notice, friends, I took a hiatus from this column starting last May. That radio silence is easily explained; my Mom passed.

She was quite the golf fan. Dad taught her to play at the old Concord Hotel Monster course, and she got dadgum good. She played in tournaments sponsored by the great LPGA Hall of Famer Babe Zaharius Didrickson, even winning her flight one year and taking home a sterling silver plate for a prize that looks like what they give the women’s winner of Wimbledon. Elbow injuries later decimated her once solid golf swing, but she still played 27 holes every weekday and 36 on weekends – 18 with the ladies’ Auxiliary and 18 with Dad. And on the occasion of meeting pro golfer-turned-golf architect Forrest Fezler, she once erroneously (and amusingly) called him “Furry Fozler.”

But Mom’s passing was more a trigger for my break than the cause. I usually define my pace of life as “dull roar” with the occasional sojourn into “New Year’s Eve Crazy,” but for the last 3-1/2 years, it’s been nothing but New Year’s Eve Crazy. I’m always careful not to take on one thing too many. But in some law offices, you don’t get that choice. Suddenly I found myself with three things too many. For far too long. I was working morning, noon, and night, going to bed exhausted and waking even more tired.


What’s more, I developed a nasty strain of Lyme Disease, which I’m still struggling through. My OTHER rotator cuff is now completely shorn off, (the other one blew years ago and still isn’t fixed…TSR? No, thank you) and I just had my fourth kidney stone procedure in the last four years. It didn’t help. My kidney stones grow deep inside my kidney and grow to Brobdingnagian proportions.

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“Jay your kidney stones are in the 98th percentile for size,” said my doctor. The one they went after last year was 30mm by 20mm.

You read that correctly. Not 3mm, not even 13mm…30.

Do you Do you how they get kidney stones out in those situations?! Think medieval torture. They took a laser attached to a camera, a 13-inch stent, and a light, and shoved it inside me. You get one guess where…

They slithered that contraption through my…unmentionable…into my bladder, up a narrow tube called a ureter that connects the bladder to the kidney, and into the nephrons of the kidney itself. Then they played Laser Tag for 90 minutes.

“The minute we hit it with the laser, it was a snow globe in there…” lamented my urologist.

Then came the long six weeks with that stent inside me, before a second operation to clean up what was left.

Here’s what happened every time I had to use a bathroom for six terrible weeks:  Michael Myers, Freddie Kruger, and Jason Voorhees would divvy me up. First, Myers takes his machete and stabs you deep inside your kidney rips you all the way down the ureter from kidney to bladder, but that’s just the start. Next, Kruger takes those razor fingernails of his and slashes your bladder, cramps driving you to your knees. Then Voorhees grabs your testicle and doesn’t let go for three hours.

They rotate places every time you go to relieve yourself. Breaks up the monotony for them.

And try playing golf like that! Ha! Just try! My wingman, who I routinely give six shots a round, beat me straight up back-to-back days. (I got revenge. I whooped him 6&5 on his home course to close out the season.)

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But as work increased at a seemingly unstoppable rate, and injuries piled up, something had to give. And I don’t mean just turning down an assignment or two or asking the law office (again) to hire some much-needed help. Even the hiatus from GCT didn’t help keep the barrage of overwork at bay.

So, I’m moving west. I’m leaving New York – the Vampire State – for greener pastures, lock, stock, and barrel. It’s a freeing up, emotionally and physically. Suddenly, the clouds parted, and I have more time for golf and golf writing this summer as I effectuate the move.


How wonderful the last few weeks have been:  three total immersions – the PGA Championship in Rochester, the Anderson Memorial International Fourball at Winged Foot, and the U.S. Open. Getting back in the media center and on overnight deadline was the elixir I needed.

Oak Hill looked and played the best it’s ever been in close to a century. For decades it absorbed the sharp, but accurate assessments of first Jack Nicklaus then Tom Weiskopf.  Nicklaus described the East course as 14 Donald Ross holes and four Fazio holes.

That’s shade for Nicklaus.

Weiskopf was more laconic. He said he was forming a group called the “Golden Age Golf Course Preservation Society,” and their members were allowed to carry guns and use them on anyone caught making changes to a Donald Ross golf course.

Those sour complaints actually bore sweet fruit in the form of the Donald Ross Society, the gold standard of golf architectural and historical societies. Better still, Gil Hanse, the most in-demand architect in America right now, changed Oak Hill’s shortcomings into strengths. Gone are the days when it will hand out 63s like Halloween candy, even in soaking rain.

As for snowstorms, well we got lucky this year. But I-90 can roll out scary weather long past Mother’s Day. Keep fingers crossed for next time that we’re not still skiing at Greek Peak and Snow Ridge when the PGA comes around.

Winged Foot is always a blessing. The tournament was the 86th Anderson Memorial Fourball, an international event with 86 teams from all over the world and nearly all fifty states. Two days of stroke play over both the West and East courses narrow the field to a 16-team bracket. It’s match play from then on; the West Course hosts the weekend battles in odd numbered years, the East course in even numbered years.


This year’s event was a party of special magnificence as Winged Foot joyously celebrated its centennial – the 100th anniversary of the founding of the club.

Both courses were immaculate. While the rough was kept at a difficult, but manageable 3-1/2 inches, the greens rolled 13 on the stimp. It was endless amusement for me watching the first green of the West course in particular – the green Jack Nicklaus infamously 4-putted to open the 1974 “Massacre at Winged Foot – as ball after ball scurried away from the flagstick to random quadrants of the green 40, 50, even 70 feet away.

The final was a quintessential youth versus experience battle. On one hand you had Trevor Randolph and Chris DeJohn, veterans so well decorated, I wrote they needed a forklift to carry their trophies around. They held off a gallant run by a pair of recent college grads who described themselves as athletes first and golfers second. Steven Bright was quarterback for the D-I Vanderbilt Commodores just a few short years ago, and his partner Crawford Reeves was a D-II school safety and linebacker.

They were built more like Mr. Fantastic and Christopher Reeves.

It took all of 19 holes for Randolph and DeJohn to finally shake free of the youngsters from South Carolina, and they did it like a boss. DeJohn hit his tee shot one the first playoff hole – the dreaded number one on the West Course – hard left and in the rough.

“I had a tree in my way to get under and it was to a tucked pin, flush left middle level,” DeJohn recalled.

He put it to 10 inches.

“Yeah, but I still had to play that 10-inch putt inside right edge!” he laughed.

Finally, while getting to L.A. for the Open was a hassle, the week in Manhattan Beach for the tournament went like clockwork. Your author even had some fun by accident

So, it seems that even though Oscar Zeta Acosta said, “You don’t send many postcards from the Road to Self-discovery,” that’s exactly what this is. After all. We all spend the rest of our lives getting less dumb at our chosen profession. We also spend the rest of our lives getting less dumb at life. And life told me to focus on wellness and welcome change. I’m back and ready for the next chapter.

Oh…and my wingman? I beat him 3&2 on back-to-back days this month. Once straight up and once spotting him three a side. After all, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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