There are lots of guys out there who give golf lessons, and I’ve had a few of them myself. But few pros are as prolific as Chuck Jonick.
The walls of his office are literally covered with thank-you notes, thousands of them pinned up on top of each other, giving you a good idea of just how many people Chuck has taught and befriended over his 50-plus-year career. Included on that list is SU basketball coach Jim Boeheim, as well as another Hall of Famer who used to work for him. Chuck says Boeheim is a much better golfer than the first assistant coach he ever hired, Rick Pitino.
“Oh, Boeheim by far. Rick didn’t take golf serious,” he said. “He was not serious about it.”
When I followed that up with the question of who is the better coach, Chuck declined to answer, saying only, “I think their records speak for themselves.”
Chuck is an admitted name-dropper. He dropped mine at least a hundred times in the 2-3 hours we spent together. He also has a signed picture of golf legend Tom Watson on his office wall.
But he doesn’t get around too well these days thanks to a couple of bum knees. Chuck uses a cane and a cart to keep from slowing down.
Even approaching his 80th birthday, Chuck does a little bit of everything at Cicero Golf. He practically runs the place, and he even picks up the range balls.
The more you hang around Chuck, though, you also realize that this isn’t his job. This is Chuck’s life, and he couldn’t live without the teaching or, the quizzing (one of his favorite things to say is, “I’ve got a trivia for ya”).
And the one thing Chuck couldn’t live without most of all? You and me. With an ex-wife and a child on the west coast, we’re the ones who keep Chuck ticking.
“I get tired every day. I’m exhausted every day,” said the former head pro at Northern Pines. “But, Mark, we’ve got plenty of time for that, and I’m not far from that. So, I know once I go, guess what, it’s oooooover.”
So the next time you need a few pointers, a new golf bag, or even just a new friend, stop by and see Chuck and spend some time with him.
Who knows? Your swing might get better. But I can guarantee you one thing: Your day definitely will.