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Golf Doctor

It happens once a year: That special time again for giving thanks


It’s been an interesting year. But I’m thankful it was not like last year. We have seen the light at the end of the tunnel for the end of the pandemic – eventually. (Our heart goes out to those whom the pandemic took.) In this Thanksgiving week, I am thankful for so many things, one of which is the fact that we have a vaccine available to virtually everyone, and the majority of Americans have had their shots. Some have chosen not to be vaccinated, for various reasons. I personally have had two shots plus a booster, and feel safe and protected.

Next, I am most thankful for our freedom. I’m extremely thankful for our military veterans (yes, I’m one) who fought and died to keep America the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” With all the changes to our names and culture thank goodness there is still Veterans Day. We all should keep in mind that freedom isn’t free!

We owe a hearty thank you to our four golf courses in Las Cruces, especially for affording our golfing community these splendid venues to tee it up every week. Our courses were closed for six weeks in 2020, but thanks to my good friend Dave Kimble (and others) they have been up and running, for all to enjoy, ever since. Not many other towns our size in the U.S. have the same golfing opportunities. (Maybe the golf course at nearby White Sands Missile Range will be refurbished and be playable again someday.)

I’m thankful for the PGA professionals who run our golf courses and provide golf instructions. Backing up these head pros is the PGA Professional Golf Management program at NMSU, part of the School of Business, that educates and trains future PGA pros to manage and grow the game we love. Individuals enrolled in the PGM program, all of whom are excellent golfers, work part time at all four Las Cruces golf courses; they represent the future of the golf business. Those students and our community are thankful for Pat Gavin, director of PGM program, now in its 34 year. Here’s a shout-out to Josh Salmon, assistant director of PGM who recently returned from running the 50th New York City Marathon (26.2 miles), along with Henry Stetina, PGM program coordinator. Both Salmon and Stetina, along with two other Sun Country PGA section runners in the marathon, were part of a 12-man contingent representing the PGA Reach Team which is a charitable foundation arm of the PGA with the mission to impact youth, military and diverse members of the golfing community. The PGA Reach Team raised over $41,000 in donations with their run in the NYC Marathon. Congratulations and thanks guys!

        I’m also deeply thankful for The Las Cruces Bulletin, and in particular Publisher Richard Coltharp and News Editor Dave Burge, for providing a truly fine quality weekly newspaper. Early next year I will begin my 17th year as the Bulletin’s golf writer, feeling ever so grateful for all of our loyal readers over the years.

We all should be thankful for the first responders, doctors, nurses, medical technicians, nursing assistants, orderlies and other folks that keep our health care services operating. I’m hoping that the nursing shortage caused by the pandemic is only temporary. And I’m not forgetting fire fighters and police officers who keep us safe from day to day.

If you don’t play golf often with a regular group, you’re missing something. My golfing friends are something I prize and am very thankful for. Sure, we play for a few bucks, but nobody leaves with any cash; the money goes for beverages.

Lastly, I’m giving thanks for the abundance we enjoy as Americans. Not all of our people enjoy such abundance, and that is why we must give generously to those organizations and charities that provide for our less fortunate. Happy Thanksgiving.

Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact him at docblanchard71@gmail.com.