This week, I say my final good-bye to The Vindicator (as I know it). Outlets across the country have covered the changing landscape of the platforms and delivery methods of news organizations. I’ll leave The Vindicator’s closing, and its impending impact on our community to journalists much smarter than I.
For me, I wanted to use the space I’ve been lucky enough to have access to say some final thank yous and one final goodbye.
Seven years ago, Todd Franko asked me if I had an interest in “talking golf” through a Sunday column over our summer months. He didn’t make it a big deal, but I knew his first request was a tryout of sorts: “Give me 400 words on whatever golf topic you want.”
I remember sitting down to pick a topic.
Tiger and the state of the PGA Tour nationally?
Talk about a local course?
Anything to make it more local?
Maybe an uplifting or critical piece on YSU or local high school competitions?
In the end, I scrapped each and decided that, if I was going to share my thoughts in a public space, I was not going to be a pretend and ultimately be an unworthy “journalist.” Rather, my goal from the beginning was to be a “conversationalist” (whether or not that’s a word doesn’t matter much at this point — you get the gist).
I remember getting over the “don’t share too much about me” hurdle for that very first tryout. I can’t find a copy of it now, but I remember wanting to share my story.
I tried to write as if I was talking to a friend. I wrote that my life up to that point had been a beautifully intertwined story of three main threads; my family, my friends and my first love — the game of golf.
At 398 words (my name made an even 400), I somehow ended up with a love story.
From that first column in 2012 through this final column, I am so lucky to say those threads not only remain but have gotten stronger.
My friends continue to be a backbone, supporting me through all of life’s unpredictable journeys.
My love for this special game continues to grow. Throughout my time writing, I’ve seen our “Greatest” program develop into a special asset for our entire community.
I’ve seen the fall, and eventual comeback of the greatest golfer of my generation. And personally, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy my share of Greatest and Club Championship titles — and to be honest, have endured some tough losses as well.
And more than anything, I have seen my family continue to blossom.
When I started writing in 2012, I was a newlywed. Today, my wife and I have been blessed with two amazing daughters, two nieces, one nephew and a number of “cousins” across our growing family.
I’ve been able to recall and share special memories of my family’s travel, support, momentous events and love.
I’ve been able to fondly remember those family members who I know would have so much loved and been so proud to have picked up their Sunday Vindicator to read my column, but are no longer with us.
And I’ve been able to share personal memories and thank the people in my life who have literally made my life what it is today.
As I sit and type this final column, I just keep thinking — how lucky am I? I got to share these, and so many other special thoughts with wonderful people throughout the community I love. Hopefully in an entertaining way. With clarity. And honesty.
Some years from now, I’ll get to sit down and read my first Mother’s Day piece to my wife and remember what we felt when our first daughter was born. Or read about my grandparents and remember fondly their love for six-irons, guardian angels in purses, and more than anything, their love and support for me.
To Todd Franko and team Vindicator, thank you so much for approving that first tryout piece seven years ago. And for letting the ride continue for this long.
Thank you to my family and friends for continuing to be those special threads in my life. Stella, Vivienne and Beth; you continue to be my “sun” that all other parts of my life revolve around.
And thank you to all the Valley golfers and Vindicator readers who have embraced my column for so long. Your emails, calls, texts and comments have made this experience more special for me than I ever thought possible.
It has truly been one of the most unexpected blessings of my life.
And so, for the last time: Thanks for reading. And until next time, “Hit ’em straight!”
Jonah Karzmer is a former golf professional who wrote a Sunday golf column for The Vindicator. In his spare time he sells commercial insurance and loves getting feedback on his weekly columns via email at Jonah@thekarzmerinsurance.com.