by Scott Kindberg
October 24, 2020
RUSSELL, Pa. — At about 9:30 a.m. Friday, Bruce Johnson stood over a putt on the ninth green at Cable Hollow Golf Course. A make from about 20 feet on the par-5 hole would give the 64-year-old Jamestown resident a birdie and a 43 on the front nine.
“That one breaks so far to the right that if I hit it too hard, it rolls right off,” Johnson said. “I kept it short.”
Johnson drained the ensuing 6-footer for his par, however, and after removing the ball from the cup, he posed next to the flag as his wife, Nancy, took photographs, because that’s the well-deserved reward for anyone who has hit the links every single day since … July 10.
Yep, on a beautiful and balmy late-October morning, the retired physical education teacher and swim coach at Frewsburg Central School had reached the century mark.
One hundred days. 100 trips to the golf course.
“I just started playing and I just enjoyed it every day,” said Johnson, who has been a Cable Hollow member for five years. “Because of the pandemic, I couldn’t have our swim club all summer, so I could come here every morning and do this. It’s just been fun to do.”
So rain or shine for the last 3 1/2 months, Johnson has made the 20-minute drive from his home in Jamestown to Cable Hollow, which is just over the New York-Pennsylvania border.
“I’m under doctor’s orders to exercise and my alternative is my elliptical in the barn, so I decided golf was a lot more fun,” Johnson said. “I’ve walked probably 90 percent of it. If I play 18, I’ll walk nine and grab a cart for the back nine.”
While almost all the golf has been played at Cable Hollow, Johnson has still found ways to keep the streak alive when circumstances dictated it. In fact, he played a municipal course in Ohio during a road trip to take his youngest daughter to college in August. He also toured the St. Bonaventure University layout after a visit to tutor his grandchildren, who live in Olean.
“I guess because I was a physical education teacher and I always wanted to see the kids be active and stay active. Golf is a great way to do it,” Johnson said. “There hasn’t been much else to do with so many events being canceled, but I’ve been able to do this. … You can’t go wrong exercising and staying in shape.”
There have been other challenges along the way that threatened the streak, including a “little” family emergency; darkness; and lightning, but for the most part Johnson has played either nine, 18 or 27 holes every morning since early July.
“I guess the one thing that I got out of this is I got a lot more consistent with my game,” he said. “Playing with my sons it was always, ‘Yeah, Dad, you hit it 150-175 yards,’ and I’d say, I don’t lose golf balls’ and they’d say, ‘That’s because you don’t hit it far enough to lose it.'”
But the married father of seven may have had the last laugh not too long ago when he carded an 85 while accompanied by four of his five sons.
“I didn’t beat any of them, but I shot an 85 and they were amazed,” Johnson said. ” … I did things I wasn’t supposed to do, in a good way. I made putts that normally I miss and I hit great shots that I normally duff.”
Fittingly, Johnson finished his 100-day streak with a par. Upon arriving at the clubhouse, a “congratulations” sign greeted him. Cupcakes covered a tray on a table inside the building.
“Who would have thought, prior to these many months ago, when Bruce signed his name to the member registration form, that he would be able to mark each day with a round of golf,” said Cable Hollow manager John Bortz Jr. in a text message. “What a great person to recognize for this accomplishment, and all of us at Cable Hollow are proud to support Bruce in his efforts.”
Johnson left the course by about 10:30 a.m. because he had an appointment to have the oil changed in his car, but he didn’t rule out entirely returning by late afternoon to play the back nine.
And, if that didn’t happen, well, that was OK, too, because he’s not done chasing a little white ball around this year.
“I’m not going to put away the clubs now,” he said. “We’re in October. We have to try and get some November golf in and maybe some December golf in.”
Asked how he felt in reaching his 100-day milestone, Johnson was equal parts comedian and realist.
“How,” he said with a smile, “do you spell ‘relief?'”