Friday, May 29, 2009

How Would Prairie Winds Rank Among the Best?

Some people have goals like climbing Mount Everest, visiting every ball park in the National League (don’t get me started on the inferiority of the American League and their designated hitter position), or swimming across the English Channel. Personally, I would love to say someday that I have played a round on every one of the top 100 golf courses in our great country. Tackling the greatest international courses would not be so bad, either! What are the top five locations in the United States? According to Golf Digest magazine, the publication that has been rating golf courses for more than forty years, the best locations as of 2007-08 are as follows:

1. Pine Valley Golf Course in New Jersey
2. Shinnecock Hills Golf Course in New York
3. Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia
4. Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, California
5. Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania

How many golf enthusiasts are out there reading this blog? Have you visited any or all of these courses? If so, I would love to know if you agree with these rankings.

My research on the top courses in the country got me thinking about how the fictional golf course I feature in my novels would measure up. Prairie Winds Golf Course is located in the beautiful state of Missouri, is managed and manicured by a staff that takes its responsibilities seriously, and hosts a cast of regulars that is certain to keep any guest entertained. However, its profile is not exactly as high as those beautiful locations we all see featured on CBS on Saturday afternoons. Prairie Winds is definitely more of an “every man’s” course.

If you have not read my three books that take place at Prairie Winds Golf Course, Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey’s Course, I hope that you will do so.

Contact me and let me know if Prairie Wings is a place that you would like to spend a day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Golf vs Cancer?

It seems that every day, a report from the New England Journal of Medicine is reporting a different discovery with regard to cancer. Whether to eat certain foods to types of exercise that can help or alleviate the disease altogether.
While scientists strive to keep coming up with various data that may cure cancer forever, one hypothesis is usually overlooked. The power of mind over matter. Have you ever known a person afflicted with cancer beat the odds that had a defeatist attitude? Me either. It reminds me of the determination and grit of “Curt” in "The Finish Line".

I liked the fact that the character, And, the book doesn’t just reveal his diagnosis and then tie up all the loose ends neatly soon after it’s mention. "Curt" showed his strength by battling this disease by rolling with all the dips, turns and expected destinations life will take you during the battle for life.

How did "Curt" get this determination? Mental toughness? From the game of golf, which is likened to the game of life. Unless you have learned the principles, studied the basics and practiced putting and swinging, you won’t really understand how this game can provide the foundation of strength over such an illness.

I’m not saying golf can cure cancer. But if you ask "Curt" in “The Finish Line,” it comes damn close.

Friday, May 22, 2009

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Here’s a quick test for you – Who won the Super Bowl earlier this year? Now I have a more difficult question – Who lost? Many of us will remember that the Pittsburgh Steelers hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy in February and will start the season this fall as defending World Champions. Fewer of us, unless we live in “The Grand Canyon State,” will have stored into our memory banks that Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals walked off the field in defeat. The losers, even if they showcased amazing talent up until the last moment of play, are often forgotten.

This example in the world of sports can be translated into any area of life. Just think about the famous quotes “To the victors go the spoils” and “History is written by the winners.” How many civilizations and cultures have very little documentation concerning their forefathers because others were given the task of retelling events? The lens through which we see ourselves and others is, fairly or not, largely based on how the successes and failures that are recorded.

If we personally fail often enough, we can reach the conclusion that we are simply destined to be losers. In my first novel, Lifetime Loser, I introduce my readers to such a character. The book opens with J.W. Schroeder finds himself falling one shot short of becoming a member of the PGA Tour, destroying a lifelong dream that he long believed was destined to become reality. How will J.W. adjust to this change in his professional plans? Will he let his mind remain stuck in the notion of “what could have been”? Or, will he realize that he has a loving family and great job managing a golf course, both of which still give him endless opportunities to be a winner?

I hope you will read Lifetime Loser and discover if you can relate to the feelings of self-doubt that J.W. Schroeder experiences. Then, you can continue with the series based at the Prairie Winds Golf Course through my next two novels, Finish Line and Tuey’s Course. I would love to hear from you concerning my writing and the characters I have developed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Father's Day and Graduation Gifts for Golf Lovers

Here are some Great Books that make Great Gifts!

Book #1
Buy the Book: Amazon
About the Book: Tuey's Course

Racial tension had been building for years near Prairie Winds Golf Course on the east side of St. Louis. In 2007, black businessman, Tuey O’Tweety faced the brunt of the discrimination.
Can the game of golf resolve the issue?

Life becomes even more difficult for Tuey when the frustrations of harassment become a daily nuisance. Corrupt politicians, manipulated city hall employees, and hypocritical community leaders add to the unrelenting aggravation.

Through an odd connection Tuey lands with an eclectic group of golfing misfits. Daily visits to the golf course expose him to an unfamiliar slice of life. An unlikely player leads him down a seemingly innocent path. The world of black and the world of white become intertwined in a world of intricate fantasy.

Join head golf pro J Dub Schroeder and his brother Curt, as they open the clubhouse doors of Prairie Winds Golf Course to a man trying to find his way out of an impoverished situation. One by one a Catholic priest, greedy banker, local farmer, retired luxury car dealer, Japanese businessman, evangelistic preacher and college football referee weave their lives into Tuey’s plight. Explore the convoluted path through the fairways of Prairie Winds Golf Course that has become “Tuey’s Course.”

Book# 2
Buy the Book:
About the Book:Lifetime Loser

For fifteen years on the outskirts of St. Louis, J. W. Schroeder (J Dub) ran a worn out golf course that sat high atop the Illinois bluffs of the Mississippi River. Then he learns that his partner had been skimming profits the entire time. But even worse, J Dub discovers that he was an unknowing participant in the swindle of an estate and that he was a victim of fraud.

J Dub is thrown into a civil justice system that is lengthy as well as costly to protect his family and correct an evil and sinister secret that had been withheld from him for years. The controlling partner, Lewferd E. Zerrmann, aligns himself with a dishonest attorney, a deceitful accountant, and a corrupt politician to derail a government investigation and an IRS audit. He survives title improprieties and outlasts an overzealous U. S. Attorney.

No one seems to be able to penetrate the isolated walls of Lew’s fortress until J Dub steps up and risks it all to fight for what is his. WHO SAID REAL LIFE WAS ANYTHING LIKE “THE GENTLEMAN’S GAME?”Book#3: Finish Line
Buy The Book: Amazon

About the Book:
After getting caught committing a petty act of vandalism, two teenage boys land summer jobs at Prairie Winds Golf Course on the east side of St. Louis. Follow the adventures…
of Justin Ventimiglia and Keith Puccio as they explore a slice of life that they never knew existed. Observe the special relationship between adolescent boys, a cast of grown golfing misfits, and a young man battling the demons of cancer.

Explore the heart-wrenching relationship between an impressionable child and a pseudo Big Brother. Witness the summertime ride of the two youths in a poignant story about life and death. See them as they develop a love for the game of golf and apply those lessons to the challenges of life.

Experience the reactions of Justin and Keith to the vices of the world such as drinking, smoking, and gambling and watch how their knowledge molds their character. Take the journey with them as they battle a dysfunctional family situation, exposure to a life-threatening disease, and the vices of the world as they live a summer to remember.

Monday, May 18, 2009

There are times when we are watching a professional athlete and our mouths fall open in awe at some of the unparalleled skill we are fortunate enough to witness. I know that I feel this way when I watch LeBron James break through three defenders to hit an impossible shot, Peyton Manning throw a perfect spiral fifty yards down the field, or Derek Jeter make a defensive stop with a hit should have brought in a couple of runs. These athletes certainly warrant our respect and the nightly praise that they receive as part of the nightly highlight reels on SportsCenter. However, sometimes the men and women who fight amazing odds in order to participate in the sport for which they have a passion deserve even more of our attention and applause.

I discovered one such inspirational individual recently named D.J. Gregory, and I wanted to share his amazing story with all of you. D.J. was born with cerebral palsy, and the doctors told his parents that he would spend his entire life as a wheelchair. He defied this diagnosis and, after reconstructive surgeries as a child, learned to walk with the assistance of a cane. D.J. could never play many of the sports of that he loved, but he was able to pick up the game of golf at the age of nine. Soon, he became a fixture at the Professional Golf Association tournaments that would visit his area. At the age of thirty, D.J. Gregory decided to walk every hole of the PGA season and document his experiences on a blog. His amazing journey is documented on the video above.

As a lifelong fan of the sport of golf, I love to see instances in which one man’s life has been so impacted by his time on the course. And, more importantly, I am touched when a man’s character and resolve leave their mark on each course that he visits.

I hope you will take a few minutes to watch this video about D.J. Gregory. He represents the best of what the game of golf can mean.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Your news item was featured at the ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG:

A message from a Fan

From a fan in Oregon...

Just finished Finish Line and Tuey's Course. Loved them both, but I think that I liked Tuey's Course the best. Can't wait for book number four! I am so amazed at your character development. You nailed those teen-ages perfectly. I taught 7th graders for 33 years and I felt that you were really in tune to that age group......very believable characters. Keep up the good work and please let me know when book four is ready.....also book five!

From your,

#1 Northwest Fan!

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Want to Feature YOU on My Blog

There is undoubtedly something therapeutic and fulfilling about sitting in front of a keyboard and spending hours alone with my ideas. Watching my three published books and their characters come to life has been an amazing experience, one that I am now enjoying with books number four and five. Stay tuned for those! While this solitary time is gratifying, I cannot express enough how much I have loved meeting countless numbers of people as I have worked to market Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey’s Course.

The online social networking in particular has been amazing. Many of you have shared your feedback and your encouragement through this blog, Twitter (follow me at “golfnovels” if you aren’t already!), Facebook, and other outlets, and I know that each comment has made my writing and my publicizing efforts stronger. I love the fact that I can sit in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri (or on any golf course that has my attention at that particular moment) and establishment professional relationships with other writers, golf enthusiasts, and avid readers from around the globe.

To those of you who have been so supportive with their criticism, which I assure you I have used in my current writing projects, I now would love to share some of your feedback with other readers on this blog. Blockquote

One of my favorite aspects of writing novels is creating multi-dimensional characters that are flawed but always have more to them than first meets the eye. I have introduced you to many colorful men and women in my first three novels, and I would like to know who stands out to you and why. With which character would you like to play a round of golf? Into which club house regular do you want to shake some sense, or at least a few manners? What do you imagine happening to one of the featured guys in my next novel? Please email me with your thoughts on any of these questions, or post your answers in the comment section, and I will share a series of blog posts that focus on your reaction to the characters in the near future.

If you haven’t read my books yet—Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, or Tuey’s Course—I hope you
will choose to do so. I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, May 11, 2009

What Happens When a Teenager Loses Both Parents?

There is no doubt that our teenagers are facing difficult challenges that were unheard of in the times that their parents, or perhaps even their older brothers and sisters, were growing up. We have predators on the internet who are posing as adolescents in hopes of having an inappropriate relationship, or perhaps with plans for violent actions. The 24-hour media is bombarding our young people with images of sex and drugs with unprecedented frequency. The troubled economy has soon-to-be graduates wondering if a job will even await them once they walk across the stage. And, the increase in the number of divorces in our country has left many teenagers without the stable two-parent home that usually provides the best opportunity for guidance and development.

In my second book, Finish Line, I introduce the readers to Justin and Keith. They are two teenage boys who, for different reasons, do not have strong male role models in their lives. After a destructive summer prank lands the boys a summer job working at the Prairie Winds Golf Course, their need for a strong male influence is finally realized. The manager of the course, Curt Schroeder, soon teaches the young men some important life lessons about endurance, discipline, and a positive attitude.

With Mother’s Day just this past weekend, my thoughts have been with the irreplaceable role that moms play in our upbringing. Mothers and fathers each offer a distinct and important relationship with their children. What happens when a child is left without either one? How much are the common struggles of our teenagers amplified when such a tragedy is included? How can you help a young person who is already dealing with the complicated emotions of adolescence express his or her feelings about being an orphan? This serious issue will be addressed in my upcoming book, Opur’s Blade.

If you are someone who has dealt with the loss of both parents at a young age, I would love to hear your story. And, once Opur’s Blade is released, I hope you will share your feedback and let me know if I did justice to that difficult experience.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Drinking Becomes Its Own Recreational Sport for Some

There seems to be a long-standing partnership between recreational activities and enjoying a few alcoholic beverages. Someone is usually in charge of bringing a cooler of beer to the weeknight softball game. We’ve all seen those Corona commercials that associate a cold long neck with lounging on the beach. And, every holiday seems to have some alcohol consumption associated with the celebration (including this week’s Cinco de Mayo festivities). A typical day on the golf course is no different for most casual players. It is not unusual to have a round or two in the clubhouse before driving out to the fairway and then sipping on a couple more as you wind your way through the eighteen holes. However, one of the characters in my series of novels that take place at the Prairie Winds Golf Course has taken his drinking a bit too far.

Captain Jer, as he is known by his friends in the club house, is a retired pilot who regularly consumes enough alcohol to make his ability to stand and function, let alone play golf, quite astounding. He is known to drink an entire twelve-pack of beer in the morning even before taking his seat in the golf cart. In his inebriated state, Captain Jer is known to flirt shamelessly with every woman in sight, hurl racial epithets at innocent workers who are simply minding their own business, and mock the friends who somehow still return to play with him time and time again. I believe that while readers will rightfully be disgusted by some of Captain Jer’s behaviors, they may also feel sorry for him in his impaired state.

I introduce a group of Prairie Winds regulars in my first book Lifetime Loser who reappear in the subsequent novels, Finish Line and Tuey’s Course. Captain Jer is just one example of the interesting personalities you will meet. I hope you will read all three of these books and then let me know which character you found the most fascinating, likable … or insulting! I look forward to your feedback.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Government Can Drive People to the Point of Frustration or Even Violence

Several months ago, I published an article in several high-profile directories that highlighted some of the ridiculous laws that are passed in our city halls every year. I decided to write about that topic due to the content of my third novel, Tuey’s Course. In this book, the title character becomes increasingly frustrated with what he sees as an oppressive local government that is out to ruin his professional standing and even his life. While some of his anger at the elected officials in his town may have been justified, the drastic actions Tuey eventually took were beyond all realm of normal recourse. However, when you take a look at some of silly ways in which our government chooses to involve itself in our lives, some level of irritation should be considered quite normal.
Did you know that in Tennessee it is illegal to shoot any game other any whales from your moving car? I’m sure that whales often make themselves available to driving motorists in the Volunteer State.

How about this? It is illegal to raise chickens in bottles in New Jersey. And I thought the tight quarters of those coops seemed a bit unpleasant for the popular fowl.

Finally, in my home state of Missouri, the fine residents of St. Louis are not allowed to sit on the curb and drink beer from a bucket. I am sure that this restriction has put a damper on many a Friday night. At least Mason jars and keg spigots seem to pass the test.

I realize that many of these laws are antiquated and no one has simply bothered to introduce motions to remove them from the books. However, even if they are not really enforced, these laws are still an amusing insight into the topics over which our politicians have argued at some point in a city or state’s history. I imagine that you know of some laws in the place where you live that you find either ridiculous or downright infuriating. I would love to hear from you and perhaps share your examples on this blog.

I hope you will read Tuey’s Course and read about one man’s experience with local government that had life-altering consequences for more people than Tuey could have imagined.