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In this May 2013 photo, Jamestown resident Paul Hedin stands on the Swilcan Bridge at the 18th hole in St. Andrews. Photo submitted

EDITOR’S NOTE: The story below first appeared in The Post-Journal in August 2013, three months after a group of local residents took a golf trip to Scotland. With the British Open due to start on Thursday at St. Andrews, it was deemed appropriate to revive the story.

LAKEWOOD – Men gather on the steps that lead to the porch of Tim Shults’ home on the shores of Lake Chautauqua. They are between 52 and 74 years old, but when they pose for a photo and stare into the camera, it’s hard to ignore their childish, almost giddy enthusiasm.

Three months away from an 11-day golf trip to Scotland, during which they played some of the most historic courses in the world, the local men come together to reminisce about their unforgettable trip. As the camera shutter clicks, Paul Hedin sits right in the middle of his friends. While his location for this Kodak moment is merely coincidental, it seems only fitting that the Jamestown resident is surrounded by “fraternal” to like.

Surrounding Hedin are Peter Sullivan, Stan Lundine, Chuck Hall, Dean Weaver, Bill Evans, Rick Wight and Shults. Seated in front of Hedin are Tom Calalesina, Rhoe Henderson and Dalton Burgett. Not present for the photo, but members of the traveling party are George Carlson and Tod Eagle.

“I think,” Hedin said later, “that having people put their arms around you and say, ‘You’re one of us and we’re not leaving without you,’ changes your attitude.”

In Hedin’s case, attitude and friendship, with a bit of golf for good measure, are just what he needed.

“He is,” said Hall, one of the trip’s organizers, “a medical miracle.

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In March 2011, Hedin, Hall and Sullivan met to start planning a golf trip to Scotland in 2012. Hall and Sullivan had made the trip several times before, but Hedin had never done it, but always had. desired.

Originally the player lineup was eight, it eventually expanded to 12, and Sullivan and Hall had to go to their metaphorical “bullpen” for “emergency help” when two players had to be substituted for health reasons.

“It’s a trip of a lifetime,” said Hall, who lives in Jamestown. “It was not a low budget trip. It was a chance to go there and have a last hurrah for some of those who don’t plan on going back.”

There was, however, a problem: Hedin was not well.

In June 2011, he was diagnosed with melanoma, his second bout with cancer after successfully overcoming thyroid cancer in 2008. Several trips to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston followed, and on July 29, 2011, Hedin sent an email to Hall and Sullivan, advising his friends to proceed with Scottish golf plans without him.

But a heartwarming response from Hall and Sullivan intercepted Hedin’s heartbreaking diagnosis and painful disappointment at missing a golf outing in ages.

“That morning,” said Hedin,they both answered and said, “We’ll wait.”

In other words, the plans for Golf Trip 2012 had been swapped for Golf Trip 2013, and the “we’ll wait” mantra found a safe place in Hedin’s subconscious, even though he couldn’t have known it at the time. ‘era. .

“When that happens,” Hedin said, referring to his friend’s kindness and consideration for postponing the trip for a year, “you see it as a goal, something to move forward and do. On my last trip to Texas, I asked my oncologist, “Why me? Why am I getting better?

Among other things, Hedin was told, it was because he “just got up and left.”

“When you are diagnosed,” he said, “you feel like maybe people don’t want to be with you and they’re bouncing back because they don’t know what to do. These guys walked up and said, “We’ll wait until you’re ready.” That makes all the difference.

“It’s hard for me to tell you how much my heart beats for (Hall and Sullivan) because they had no good reason to say, ‘We’ll wait. … For them to say, without hesitation, they’ll wait just melts my heart. I will never be able to express to them, or anyone else, my gratitude for waiting.

In the end, Hedin was able to tell his friends his true feelings on their last day in Scotland after a round of golf at Carnoustie.

More on that later.

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Turnberry (Kintyre); Royal Troon; Sunflower (Ailsa); Nairn; Royal Dornoch; Asset; St. Andrews (new); KingsBarns; St. Andrews (former); and Carnoustie.

Hall and Sullivan had played most of these locations on their previous visits to Scotland, but the majority of their traveling party had not. Of the 12 men, seven would eventually play all 10 rounds.

“I hate to say that,” said Calalesina, a Lakewood resident, “because it was without my wife (Sandy), but it was the most exciting trip I’ve ever been on. …She kept telling me to go. As she explained, ‘You work hard all your life and you deserve a trip like this.’

So when each of the friends arrived at Shults last Sunday evening, they received a hardcover book, edited and published by Weaver’s wife, Debbie. With photos, including scorecards from each round, Deb painstakingly chronicled the journey of a lifetime.

“I told these guys,” Bemus Point resident Wight said, “that I’m still fighting depression to have (the trip) behind me instead of in front of me. It was so good.

Trying to highlight all the special moments – on and off the course – would take days, but here are a few:

¯ Weaver at St. Andrews: “I would say playing well on No. 1 and No. 18 at St. Andrews was the most special. … I hit two really good shots on 18. I hit a really good drive and, with the wind in my face, I had a really good salvage club at 12 feet. My caddy said, ‘Mr. Weaver, that ball landed so softly it was like a butterfly with sore feet.

¯ Hedin to Turnberry: “I birdied 18 times, like Tom Watson did (in the 2009 Open Championship). I hit the same clubs – driver and 7 iron – and got the putt. That was the highlight for me.

¯ Sullivan at St. Andrews: “I was back in my hotel room on the Road Hole (#17). It was Rhoe Henderson’s birthday and he was in the last group. I’m back in the hotel room and I have the window open to watch Rhoe play number 17. I don’t know if he got the par, the birdie, the bogey, the triple bogey, but I sang happy birthday from our hotel window in the road hole in St. Andrews.

¯ Henderson’s response to Sullivan’s vocal birthday greeting: “That was awesome. It surprised me, but I ended up paring the hole.

¯ Calalesina trying to get out of an eight-foot-tall bunker in Carnoustie: “It wasn’t a favorite memory, but I’ll never forget it. My caddy said, “You have to back off”, but I said, “I didn’t come here to back off”. I try to get out of it. I hit the side wall and it went past my head. Either way, it’s gone backwards. »

¯ Wight descending the first fairway at Nairn with his caddie, Marty MacDonald: “I asked him if he had ever been to the United States. He said he did and was the winner of the Scottish Rotarian who came to the United States to play against the American Rotary winner for our region, Fran Remington.

The course played by MacDonald and Remington? Moon Brook Country Club.

¯ Shults and Calalesina watching an old man play the 18th hole on the Old Course at St. Andrews with his dog, a golden retriever, working just to walk, trailing behind:

“We were seated at the outdoor bar an hour before our tee time and an old man and an old dog arrive,” Shults recalled. “They had played thousands of rounds and he said that was (the dog’s) last round,” Shults recalled. “I can’t imagine what happened the next morning.”

Calalesina added: “It was killing the dog trying to walk, but the dog did. The man wasn’t going to put the dog down, but he couldn’t make 18 holes anymore. … It was quite emotional. … J started to cry.

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The last lap of the trip was played out in Carnoustie. As usual, West Ellicott resident Weaver, affectionately known to his friends as “The Dictator,” set up the daily games, and Wight, as was his custom, wrote it all down in his daily diary.

“The weather of the day was awesome and memorable,” Wight wrote. “Sixty degrees, steady 20mph wind gusting to 40mph and more sunshine than otherwise. No rain! But it was a very difficult day.

Noted Lundine, who lives in Ashville: “I think it’s the toughest course in the world. I know this is the hardest course I have ever played. The first nine, I played really well, so that helped.

Lunch was at a nearby restaurant, and after the men had finished eating, Hedin realized he had forgotten his golf cap, with his monogrammed initials on the back, in the Carnoustie pro shop.

“They all finished and got on the bus,” Hedin said. “I was last and (Sullivan) said, “We decided to wait for you.”

Hedin was amazed. It was the same comment Sullivan and Hall had made in their email to the then ill Hedin two years earlier.

“Really, it was something I had never thought of until Peter said so,” Hedin said. “I then got emotional with the guys on the bus. It was an unforgettable trip for me and a dream that I thought would never come true. It was the thrill of my life. »

Wight noted, “It was a tearjerker. … It gave me chills.

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Hedin, who was one of the guys who played the 10 rounds in Scotland, is due to return to Houston for a visit with his oncologist this week.

“This is my two-year review, my milestone review,” he said. “They tell me if it goes well it will probably be every six months until we get to five.

“I am very well.”

And the same goes for the rest of the men who gathered at the Shults last week.

“If you can imagine 12 guys living together, eating together, playing together, getting on a bus together and taking a long plane ride together and I don’t believe there was a single testing period that I can think of” , Weaver said. . “Everyone got along great. »

“This 12, if we can stay healthy and our wives can stay healthy, we’re already talking about going to Hawaii in 2015,” said Jamestown resident Sullivan. “It will be difficult to top Scotland, but as long as you have the link of a group of guys…”

Sullivan didn’t finish his sentence, but the point was clear: on so many levels during the glorious 11 days of May across the Atlantic, the wait was more than worth it.

Ask Hedin.



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