As we celebrate the life of Chubbs Peterson, we remember a kind hearted man beloved by everyone. Chubbs always had a smile on his face and radiated positivity. He inspired everyone including me by showing his peppiness and willingness to go that extra mile. Even though I was put on this earth for one reason, to play hockey, he taught me how to play golf.
Chubbs had a pure love for the game of golf. Although his career was tragically cut short, he found forgiveness and dedicated his life to helping others on and off the course. He had always been a man of sheer determination.
Chubbs taught me many things on the golf course with his phenomenal coaching ability but the biggest thing he taught me was that forgiveness is forever. Today I would like to reflect on how a talented golfer like Chubbs ended up coaching me and the many great moments we had together.
On a record pace after winning the US Open in 1965, Sports Illustrated believed that Chubbs was the next Arnold Palmer. Until one fateful 3rd round of a tournament down in Florida.
An errant fairway iron sent his ball hooking into the rough. As he went to retrieve it, an alligator popped out. It cut him down to his primes and took from him something that would forever change his life. The gator took Chubb’s hand and the ability to play the game he loved so much.
It took 5 years of substance abuse until Chubbs found forgiveness in himself and the strength to return back to golf. Desperate for anything positive, he rediscovered his love for the game and got sober. It was the only place he found that could take him away from the pain.
In 1970, he began work as a Club Pro at the Waterbury Country Club. Chubbs served as Club Pro for the for nearly 30 years having his fair share of success stories. But no one he coached ever had a shot at the Pro Tour.
Although he still enjoyed the job, he had forgotten what the feeling of competition was like. He always wished for someone to get him excited again.
What he got was me, Happy Gilmore.
Dealing with my younger self was no easy task. But there are a few things that separated Chubbs from the hockey coaches I had in my life.
Like any great coach, Chubbs recognized talent and opportunity. He could have taken one look at me and shook his head in disgust (like Lee Travino did so many times). But he didn’t. Chubbs looked beyond my flawed personality trusting his own ability to influence and teach.
Without fear or doubt, he took a leap of faith. He tried to connect with me and challenged me to see the opportunity in picking up the game of golf. At first, I was all about the money but that didn’t stop Chubbs from convincing me I was primed to make the big bucks.
Chubbs showed me that when life presents us with a challenge, we must find opportunities to share our gifts and help others find their way.
Calm and Collected
A great coach is level headed and understands the importance of staying calm in every situation. He understood the pressure I faced as I made my first mistake by standing on the tee box in front of Mr. Lafferty at the Pro-Am. My dipshit caddy didn’t help me out on that one.
When it was my turn, I took an embarrassing whiff. I was furious but he called time and approached me in a calm way.
Knowing that golf can be a stressful game, Chubbs learned how to deal with my anxiety by distracting my mind from any doubt or angry emotions. The same technique that helped me regather myself throughout my play.
He was fearless showing class by doing something slightly embarrassing to tip the scales. To “ease the tension.”
When a great coach sees weakness, they shift the focus away from the team, or player to reduce the pressure of the situation.
Praising but humble
Pep talks always worked well to help me focus on putting. Even when the ball just wouldn’t go home. Chubbs always knew how to provide that gentle support without stealing the spotlight. Just tap it in he said helping me visualize the other team pulling their goalie.
And when I accomplished a feat few golfers had by hitting an Ace on a Par 4, he congratulated me but didn’t let me gloat.
However, the best example of his humbleness was after I won the Pro-Am earning my pro card. Chubbs recognized the long road ahead and wanted me to slow down. He knew how lucky I had gotten and encouraged me to take a step back and grow my game into something bigger.
Even though I didn’t listen because I had to make money to get Grandmas house back, I always admired that.
A good coach praises talent and skill but a great coach praises first but teaches the great power of humbleness.
Ever since the beginning of our relationship, Chubbs was great at adapting on the fly. He knew that in order to best reach me, he had to accept who I was.
Chubbs recognized my lack of concentration and found ways to manage it. He was great at always pushing me to stay focused.
That was his job because he knew that giving in and reacting to my high emotional states would only make me angrier.
Chubbs always said, “Golf is a game of talent and self-discipline.” I always thought that it was for goofy pants and a fat ass.
Chubbs knew the power of meditation and a calm mind. The same higher power that he used in his own success in the pursuit of his first major. It was through his weird visualization techniques that he helped me unlock my inner greatness.
Although I laughed at first, encouraging me to find a “Happy Place” helped me calm down. It was his way of teaching me to visualize. A visualization technique that was meant to clear my mind of all the negative energy and focus on putting.
Never putt angry he always said.
“When you connect to the silence within you, that is when you can make sense of the disturbance going on around you.”
Perhaps the best quality of all, Chubbs was a man of forgiveness. He never lost his cool all of the times I snapped at him. He never tried to change me or to tell me to cool down. He accepted me for who I was.
I felt so stupid the first time I walked away in spite when he just wanted to help. But I knew that Chubbs would forgive me because he wanted nothing but the best for me. But he did make me beg for it a little bit.
Sadly, I let revenge get the best of me when I went down to Florida to make the gator pay for what he did to my friend. I never knew that it would end up taking Chubb’s life on that fateful night.
Life beyond a legend
As we approach the many relationships in our lives, let us always remember that while we can’t change the past or change others, we can find forgiveness and acceptance.
It was this forgiveness that separated Chubbs from the best of them. He knew all along that forgiveness is forever. I sure am gonna miss him.
RIP Chubbs Peterson
1940 – 1996