- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 23, 2019

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) - When 50-year-old Pete Crozier of Columbus, Ohio, decided to play 50 golf courses in 50 states in 50 days, he knew where his journey would end - at Green Hill Municipal Golf Course in Worcester.

Crozier planned his trip of a lifetime to honor his late father, George, who learned to play the game at Green Hill. Last Monday, Crozier carded an 8-over 80 at Green Hill while playing with his cousins, Tod Masterman and Brian Ruttle, both of whom live in Princeton.

Crozier’s 15-year-old son Gavin, 13-year-old daughter Tess, wife Sarah and brother Dave were also in attendance. That night in Hubbardston, his 85-year-old mother Nancy was on hand as well for a family party.

“My dad grew up in Worcester,” Crozier said, “and this is the course where he learned to play. We wanted it to be about family and a circle-of-life kind of feel, back to where it all started.”

The main reason for the trip was to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and he reached his goal of - you guessed it - $50,000 in donations and pledges on Monday. Donations ranged from $10 to $10,000.



“I’m incredibly appreciative,” Crozier said. “It’s amazing that people were moved by this story. I think people were starving for a positive story like this. They get all the money; I get all the Advil.”

He’s still accepting donations at fiftyforfather.com. Crozier’s father died at age 66 on Nov. 8, 1998, of a stroke and complications from Type 2 diabetes. The WPI graduate grew up near Green Hill on Bates Avenue.

In honor of his father, Crozier and 15 of his friends played at courses around the country for many years. Then Crozier decided to play 50 courses in 50 states in 50 days. It was an idea that his father would have loved.

“He was a planner and a traveler and a golfer,” Crozier said. “He was a real numbers guy. I remember family vacation itineraries would say, ‘arrive at 3:06,’ not 3 o’clock.”

Crozier embarked on his 50-50-50 journey to honor his father and Gavin, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 4. Type 2 can usually be controlled through diet, exercise and medication, but Gavin’s pancreas can no longer produce insulin, so he needs to monitor his blood sugars and inject himself with synthetic insulin for the rest of his life.

“The fact that he chose JDRF as the charity,” Gavin said, “it really means a lot to me. It’s super personal.”

“Type 1 diabetes is just a constant grind,” Crozier said, “emotionally, intellectually and physically. That’s what I wanted this to be. It isn’t a golf vacation. I wanted this to be hard because diabetes is hard. I figured if I could feel for one day what my son feels every day, I’d be a better father at the end.”

On day 17 of his trip, Crozier was exhausted, and he called Gavin from the desert in southern Utah. Gavin told him that he often felt fatigued and motivated him to keep going.

“I can’t quit and neither can you,” he said.

Crozier’s boss at Junior Achievement, a nonprofit youth organization, urged him to embark on his golf journey. Donors, family and friends played with him on occasion, but no one accompanied him to every course. Except for the courses in Hawaii and Alaska, he drove to everywhere in a Dodge Caravan donated by Avis and piled up more than 11,000 miles. On his dashboard, he kept a map of the country with ball markers from each of the 50 clubs placed on each of the 50 states and an encased card of Ted Williams, his father’s favorite baseball player. He also had a letter from Jack Nicklaus thanking him for sharing his memory of watching Nicklaus’ 1986 Masters victory with his father.

Titleist donated 200 Pro V1 golf balls. ECCO donated golf shoes. Even though he has bad feet, he walked all 50 rounds and took more than half a million steps.

Crozier said his lowest score was a 75 and he averaged an 82 on the trip. He carded more than 50 birdies.

Crozier grew up on a golf course in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri. At age 12, he would ride his bike to the course, take out the carts, play 63 holes and then put the carts away and pick up the range with a metal bucket and burlap sack.

“The best $2 an hour I ever earned,” he recalled.

He averaged only 10 rounds of golf a year after high school before getting back into the game more seriously last year.

The trip began in Southport, North Carolina, on May 27 because he and Gavin were invited to meet the players during a practice round at the U.S. Women’s Open in nearby Charleston. Ally McDonald, who tied for 10th that week, has Type 1 diabetes and spent 15 minutes with Gavin.

“She looked at him,” Crozier said, “and said, ‘Gavin, we understand each other as athletes. We have to push ourselves to achieve, but we have to push ourselves smartly because we have diabetes.’ “

“It was really interesting,” Gavin said, “to hear how she hasn’t let it hold her back.”

Crozier was amazed that McDonald would compare herself to his son and called it his favorite moment of the trip.

Crozier played such prestigious courses as TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship, and TPC Southwind, which will host the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational this week. All 50 of his rounds were donated by the clubs.

It was 38 degrees with light snow when he played in Montana and 100 degrees in Las Vegas. He didn’t hit rain until 28 days into the trip and it rained only three days in all, but he still played.

“I’ve gotten to do something I love,” he said, “with people I love for people I love and make the world a better place. How lucky am I? The thing is everybody can do it. You just have to do your thing that you’re passionate about. Then it becomes about purpose, not paycheck, mission not money, and if you’re driven by those things, you’re so excited to get up in the morning. I’m exhausted, so tired at the end of every day, but I wake up energized and ready to do it again.”

Now that his trip is over, Crozier doesn’t plan to play golf for at least a month. You can’t blame him.

Online: https://bit.ly/2JLBm4t

___

Information from: Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), http://www.telegram.com

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide