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Local Column

Sycamore's Mike Maveus always first to tee off

Mike Maveus is always first to tee off at Sycamore Golf Course

Mike Maveus is flanked by his sons, Jeff (left) and Chad.
Mike Maveus is flanked by his sons, Jeff (left) and Chad.

Mike Maveus told me the other day that the Sycamore Golf Course has been his playground for 63 years.

Not knowing beans about golf, a bogey from a woodie, or a mashie from a niblick, I was curious and asked a lot of questions of him, and later quizzed Sycamore Club golf pro Kirk Lundbeck.

I do know what a hole-in-one is, something akin to bowling a perfect 300 game. Mike is no duffer – he has hit four of those during his lifelong love affair with golf. He has also won more club championships than anyone else, but he is too modest to give out the number.

His parents took over the concession to run the pro shop and sell snacks at the swimming pool at Sycamore Park in 1956 when Maveus was 9 years old. So his spare time was spent at the park. A friendly golfer who frequented the course took Maveus under his wing and taught him the game. Since then, he has managed to play about every day the course is open (except for vacations with his wife, Vicki) for more than 60 years. Figuring there are about 180 days (weather permitting) the course is open each season, that adds up to a phenomenal 10,000 rounds of golf, give or take a thousand.

Maveus calls himself a morning person, so he is always the first to tee off each day. Even on Sundays he manages to get in 18 holes before church. I didn’t ask him if Easter and his wedding day were exceptions.

Lundbeck calls him a fixture on the course. The golf pro himself has spent 22 years out there, the same number as the park superintendent, Jeff Donahoe, has been on the job. I first saw Lundbeck as a trombone player in the DeKalb Municipal Band. He later took the director’s baton upon the passing of the legendary Dee Palmer – but that’s another story.

Maveus said the Park District course is “immaculate and pristine, one of the crown jewels of Sycamore.” Even the bentgrass is better than that grown on many other courses, he adds. He looks in great shape and attributes his fitness to walking the course (not using a golf cart) all these years.

Besides golf, his working career was in banking and that, he said, is thanks to Clifford Danielson, who mentored him right out of high school in the banking business, even before he went to college. He stayed 51 years at National Bank & Trust, until a few years ago when First Midwest bought it. His other interest is supporting the Sycamore Library – he served on its board for 17 years.

He didn’t make bankers out of his three children. Daughter Jill McCormick is a music teacher at Founders Elementary in DeKalb, son Jeff teaches at Kaneland Middle School, and Chad is a golf pro at Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon, Michigan.

Chad hit his first drive at the Sycamore course; his first job was as assistant to Lundbeck. He went on to work at two famous courses in California – Del Monte and Pebble Beach – before returning to his wife’s native state of Michigan.

Maveus doesn’t need to yell the warning, “fore!” when teeing off, as no one is ever ahead of him in the mornings. Then there is some time to golf and the Colonel Bogey March, inspired by a military officer who was a golfer and whistled two notes meaning “fore.” But you will have to ask Lundbeck the music man more about that.

• Barry Schrader can be reached via email at barry815@sbcglobal.net or through P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115. His past columns can be read on his website www.dekalbcountylife.com.

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