If you happen to be playing College Fields on any weekday morning, chances are you’ll run into Tom Endelmann. Tom (79) and his playing partner, Don Engler (80) have been playing the course since it opened in 2005. Actually, they were playing it before it opened. “One of the guys who started College Fields, Don knew from work. He asked him if he had seen our course yet. It’s not open yet, but you can go over and play it if you want. We have golf carts in the shed, drive over and tell them you were sent by me and told you could play a round of golf. Tell me what you think of it. So we talked about it after, maybe we should switch to a new course. Everything was right for us, so we did. We’ve been here ever since.”
Tom was born and raised in St. Clair, Michigan. When he graduated from High School, his father asked him “son, have you given any thought to what you’re going to do with the rest of your life?” When he told him he hadn’t, his father took him the next day to his first job and he worked for two years on an Ore Freighter in Chicago. From there it was on to the Navy. “I became an electronics technician on a destroyer out of Florida. I did that for four years. I got to travel the world. At the end of four years, I’m sitting at the dinner table again at home, wondering what to do next.” Tom spent the next two years working at Pontiac Motors, before finally finding his calling.
He saw that the State Police were hiring and a couple weeks later interviewed and passed the physical training and was assigned to the Academy in 1965. “I was so happy when I graduated from the Academy. My dad was someone who never said, good job son, I”m proud of ya. He always pushed you to do things, but he never let you know how he felt about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. At graduation, that’s when you got your badge. You take the badge to one of your parents and they pin it on your uniform… I took it over to my dad. He couldn’t pin it on. He was so proud of me that his hands were shaking……He handed it to my mother and said you better put this on, I’m going to stab him. I’ll never forget that.
While working with the State Police, Tom was introduced to the game of golf. In the State Police, they moved around every few years. Even though you were working with good people, you didn’t know that much about them at first. Golf was a way for them to connect. It was a social thing, and Tom looked forward to it.
“When I went to my first post, 1965, my post commander said. You golf? I say, kind of. Do you have clubs? Come with me. We got in his car and we drove down to the golf course (can’t even tell you the name) it’s on Dixie Highway south of Bridgeport. He goes in, always in his uniform. He knew the people there. “I want to get this new trooper a set of golf clubs. What kind of deal can you get him?” I walked out with a set of Spaulding Top Flights. They were all forged clubs. I was clunking those clubs around for years.”
Tom spent 33 years in the State Police and retired in 1993. He was at four different posts and was promoted up through the ranks to become a Section Commander at the Fire Martial Division. “We had an arson investigation and fire code enforcement. When I left I was the Commander of the Arson Investigation Section. I was a Specialist Lieutenant.”
Since then Tom has been playing golf, getting better at the game every year. At 79 years old, Tom has lost track of how many times he has been able to shoot his age. “The first time I did it, I was like wow. But then I kept on doing it. Nothing about it now. I’m not bragging, I’m blessed. Part of being able to shoot your age is your health, taking care of yourself. Look at how many people my age can’t even play golf. I’m proud of that, and blessed that my health has stayed fairly good.”
“The last three or four years, I’ve been averaging about twenty rounds at or below my age. The first was about four or five years ago (74-75). I’m kind of a down the middle type of guy. So if I’ve got my short game working at all, I’m going to have a good score.”
Retirement hasn’t been all golf for Tom though, as he and his wife Jill are full time caregivers to their two granddaughters, who are 9 and 14 years old. Their mother struggles with Bipolar disorder and while she is doing well, is not able to raise the two kids.
“Having those two kids is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I just love them to death and I think they love me to death, cause I spoil the hell out of them. I’m at home teaching my 14 year old algebra. I hated that when I was in school, now for me to help her, I’ve got to get the text book out and re learn it. I”m going to school again myself. She’s on the honor roll.”
“Golf is our relaxation time. We get there early in the morning. Four or five hours is enough, then I get back to my real job. But the kids are in school all day so it works out well.”
It works out well for us too, Tom. We are proud to call you a “Regular” at College Fields.
By Chris Hallead, Head Golf Professional
College Fields Golf Club
Tom’s 5 things I like best about CF
- Quality of Golf. I love the golf course. Design of the golf course. It’s challenging.
- I like the people. I really enjoy the service you get out there. The workers are quality workers and that’s important to me. Right down to the guy that’s cutting the grass. Its well maintained and its well designed. People are friendly.
- Accessibility of tee times. “I started at College Fields before it was opened.”
- Course condition. Designed by people who know what their doing. It can rain all night and early the next morning we’re playing golf. Its rarely closed due to weather, it drains well. For a guy who plays every day, that’s important.
- I like the pro shop. The equipment, the attire. I”m excited about the new clubhouse.