If Snow White’s seven dwarves had professionals, it might go like this: Sleepy, the night auditor; Dopey, the politician; Doc, the pharmacist; Bashful, the comedian; Grumpy, the customer service rep; Sneezy, the allergist; and Happy, the PGA teaching professional.
In this story, however, Happy’s not a dwarf; he is a real, live PGA teaching professional.
Meeting Happy the very first time, I thought he was kidding when he introduced himself. But I quickly realized his name says it all. Because Happy is always, well, happy.
Having spent almost 20 years as a PGA teaching professional, Happy was best at teaching golf skills to the young and old alike. He loves his job. His students admire and respect him. He always made sure they were totally satisfied with their lessons, and, often, Happy taught past the allotted appointment time. Always upbeat and never in a hurry he taught each student as if they were the only one that mattered at the time.
We quickly became friends, and Happy asked me to assist him in his golf clinics. I learned what it is to have a true passion for teaching the game of golf. And patience. Lots of patience.
Our relationship blossomed, and I continued to assist Happy with his golf clinics whenever my schedule would allow. I watched and I learned. Sometimes the students attending the clinics were unable to pay. Happy still taught them. He understood times are tough. He donated his time and talent to teach church groups who paid a nominal fee to play the course after their lesson. If it meant doing it on his day off, so be it. With a smile on his face, Happy was glad to do it.
As luck would have it, Happy’s life recently changed when he was called in to his boss’ office at the executive-style course where he worked. He was told the course was closing. A deal had been struck with the town and the course was going to be replaced by a community park and sports complex. The doors to the pro shop would close in 30 days. Although he would be compensated for all his years of loyal service, Happy would need to seek employment elsewhere. Not an easy feat, especially in a tough economic golf climate.
Unemployed, but with a smile on his face, Happy tells his story and still provides the occasional private lesson to some loyal students. But his full-time job, his daily lessons and ongoing golf clinics are gone.
I talked to Happy the other day. Unfortunately this story doesn’t have a good ending. Happy is still looking for a full time job. Upbeat and determined to find something soon, Happy remains positive that things will turn around. I have no doubt that he will succeed in finding something. When you’ve been given the nickname he has, it’s for an obvious reason.
On a sidebar, Happy’s wife is named Gaye. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.