A week ago Monday, golf lost one of its all-time great teachers and coaches. Jim Flick left us at age 82 for perfect greens and only pars and birdies. A man of great talents and a humble spirit, he quietly touched not only thousands of tour players and recreational golfers, but shaped hundreds of young teachers that came behind him. You see, Jim was a rarity in today's world. He was a giver and never a taker.
Yes, he was recognized with many awards. In 1988, he was voted the PGA of America's Teacher of the Year. He was inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame. He was on everyone's Top 100 list, regardless of what magazine you subscribe to. He coached many top tour players including the great Jack Nicklaus himself.
Yet many of you know who Butch Harmon, Hank Haney, and David Leadbetter are, and I would venture to guess many who will read this article will say "Jim who?" That's because Jim was a modest man reared in Bedford, Ind., and not a self-promoter by today's standards. He simply went about his craft, and may I say with unparalleled skills.
For my dime, Jim was one of the truly elite at our craft. In the mid-1980s as a young assistant professional attending a PGA Business School, Jim and my later-to-become-mentor Bill Strausbaugh
(also a National PGA Teacher of the Year) were the presenters in the area of teaching and coaching.
Little did I know that that day would change my career forever. Bill later became my biggest influence and father figure. Bill and Jim were best of friends. Bill later insisted I go see Mr. Flick and spend time observing him teaching the game. Bill made that arrangement for me, and Jim welcomed me, and gave of himself so very freely.
Although we only spent a half-dozen "live visits" together during our friendship, we communicated through the years, and he was never unavailable to lend an ear or offer counsel. Never.
I was only one of so many Jim and Bill mentored. Bill passed in 1999 of a brain tumor. Today, they are together playing 9 with the Lord, and no doubt in my mind, making sound adjustments to his setup.
For those of you who never had the honor and privilege of meeting and working with Jim Flick, he wrote several books and published countless articles during his lifetime Seek them out and study them. You'll be better for your studies of Mr. Flick. As for any young assistant professionals out there trying to become a better teacher and coach, seek any and all Jim left behind and study it.
Jim once said "Golf is an art form. Mechanical and robotic teaching is the worst thing you can do." He was an artist himself, so versed in his craft; a Michelangelo of the instruction world.
Thank you, Jim for all you did for so many of us. You will be sadly missed, but never forgotten.
Tom Patri gives lessons at the Quarry on Immokalee Road, and is at Friar's Head in New York from May-December. Patri is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. Visit Patri's website at www.tompatri.com, www.facebook.com/TomPatri or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.