Five minutes with Hank Childs and you know that this man must be a golf pro. Or a kindergarten teacher, or a yogi. But the fact that the interview is taking place at a golf course, at Rose City in Northeast Portland, sort of narrows it down.
Childs, 54, who also runs the Rose City pro shop, fairly oozes patience. And who could possibly need an abundance of patience more than someone who teaches golf for a living? Duffers, novices, perfectionists playing the world's most imperfect game - these are Childs' pupils. And each one gets Childs' personal mix of relaxation therapy and positive thinking along with instruction on how far back to take the club head. And never ever forget, keep your head down and steady.
Portland Tribune: Golf is such a difficult sport to master - first-timers must get awfully nervous, right?
Hank Childs: I've had people who are so nervous - and they're nervous in life to begin with - that when they get done with their lessons they thank me and they say, 'I pay a hundred bucks for a therapy session, and you make me feel better than that.'
When you try to get people to swing you ask them about their knees, their back, their hips. 'Is your body OK? Because I'm going to move you around.' And I've had a few people on the first lesson, they're so tense in their shoulder muscles or back that when you try to get them to feel what a golf swing feels like they pull a muscle.
I've had women start crying because they feel so nervous, so tense, and they have this expectation of themselves and they think they're not doing well.
Tribune: Ever seen a grown man cry?
Tribune: Golfers must really become attached to you.
Childs: Being a golf teacher you have a wonderful influence over people. I'll get a message, one of my students has called, and it may be a doctor or an attorney or some high-end business person. And (the secretary) says, 'I'm sorry, he's in a meeting.'
'Well, tell him it's Hank.'
And they say, 'Oh yeah, he wants to talk to you really bad.'
Just tell him it's Hank, he'll come to the phone. They always do.
Tribune: Any especially grateful students come to mind?
Childs: I taught this woman golfer probably 25 years ago and she was a beginner. And what I encourage people to do is take four lessons and go out and play before the last lesson, so the last lesson we can talk about her experience. I come walking out to the range and she's waiting for me there. And she's got a six-pack of beer. And I look down and say, 'What's this for?' And she's smiling, and she said, 'I had a hole in one the first time I played.' So she gave me the six-pack right there.
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Reader Patti McCoy called in recently. A Q and A about Kurt Augustine, who picks up roadkill for Multnomah County, left McCoy wanting the answers to two questions we failed to ask. Like a good Q and A reader, she called Augustine herself, and here's her report.
McCoy wanted to know how Augustine disposes of the roadkill. The answer? Cremation, even large animals such as deer.
McCoy, a dog owner, also wanted to know whether Augustine, when he picks up a living domestic animal, tries to find the pet's owner. And she's pleased to report that Augustine does. He checks for missing-animal reports, and also scans for identification chips. 'He goes that extra mile,' McCoy said.
And now McCoy is satisfied. More than that, in fact. 'I told him (Augustine) I already thought he was an unsung hero,' she said. 'You wouldn't think to use the word passion and maggot in the same sentence. But this is a man who brings passion to his job, and I, for one, appreciate that.'