WEST JORDAN — It’s Wednesday at 1 p.m. at River Oaks Golf Course, and you know what that means.
The tee box is open and the bar is closed.
It’s closed, at least, for members of the Good Time Golf League, who every Wednesday afternoon throw their $8 entry fee into a hat and head out on the course in pursuit of a good, clean time.
Terms of play are fairly loose. Nobody’s going to check if you have more than 14 clubs in your bag. You can putt with a hockey stick. You can take a mulligan. On every shot. You can skip a hole. You can bring a gorilla along to hit your drives if you want.
The official USGA rules book is thicker than a Ruth’s Chris steak. The Good Time Golf League has just one rule:
You cannot play high.
Show up sober, or don’t show up.
That’s because the whole point of Good Time Golf, the one and only objective, is to provide an enjoyable atmosphere that is absolutely, 100 percent devoid of anything artificially addicting.
Anyone is welcome, but it’s addicts who are embraced.
• • •
Three years ago, Good Time Golf was born over a cup of coffee.
At first glance, Tom Olson and Patrick Overholt don’t have much in common. Tom is a retired businessman. Pat is a 33-year-old retired baseball player. But both had traveled down the long, hard road of addiction.
Each had made it through rehab. Now they were in recovery together, facing the same enemy.
There is strength in numbers, the counselors had told them. There is also strength in talking and in being positive.
So they chatted over coffee about the things they love, and it turned out one of the things Tom and Pat both love is golf.
We should play sometime, they agreed. Then they looked around the room. And we should invite all these guys, too.
One thing quickly led to another. Pat recruited his father-in-law, Dick Kreutzer, another recovering addict and avid golfer. Tom recruited his brothers, Steve, Larry and Jim, none of whom had battled the bottle like he had but all of whom were keen golfers and willing to do anything to help their brother stay sober.
Thanks to seed money from all of the above and others who thought it was an excellent idea, the Good Time Golf Association was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) charity, with Dick as president, Pat as CEO and Tom as chairman of the board.
The Good Time Golfers approached Mitch Stone, director of golf at River Oaks Golf Course in West Jordan, and asked about a regular tee time. Stone greeted the group with open arms, agreeing to a group rate on green fees.
That was three years ago. Every Wednesday ever since, the addicts, in various states of recovery, have shown up, weather permitting of course. Sometimes there’s a dozen, sometimes a lot more than that.
The emphasis is on fun more than function. Everybody who wants to can throw $8 in a hat at the start of the round. At the end, prize money is paid out not just for the top two lowest scores but also the top two highest scores, plus prizes for closest-to-the-green on the par 3s.
If someone can’t afford the green fees or the pot fee — “if they’re down to where they’ve lost everything, and a lot of them are,” says Kreutzer — “then we’ll cover them.”
In addition to all that, the Good Timers hold fundraisers to raise money to help others battle the same thing they’re battling. In 2016 they collected enough funds to put two housewives into rehab — at a cost of about $40,000 each.
In July of this summer, they held their first annual Golf Time Golf Scramble at River Oaks to add to their war chest.
All this while not losing sight of why they’re showing up weekly in the first place.
“It’s four and a half hours of sobriety and a good time,” explains Tom Olson. “That’s what we’re here for. No temptations, nothing to worry about, just have a good time.”
“In a way I guess you could say it’s selfish,” adds Overholt, who played seven seasons of professional baseball as a pitcher by way of Brighton High School and Santa Clara University before his path was derailed, in part, by addiction. “First and foremost, I can say I’m involved with Good Time Golf because it provides a way to help me stay sober. But at the same time, I can see how much it helps others. We’re doing some good here and that feels good.”
Without the hangover.