That feeling of true gratitude, the what-would-I-have-done-without notion, the idea that you can never repay completely, yet no discomfort in thatits rare. Sure, its easy to look around at a collection of things, at the solidity of your house, at creature comforts, and feel grateful. You can even be thankful to have chosen golf over, say, tennis or skiing, because you have discovered you get more of a spiritual boost out of golf.
But that deeper feeling of gratitude most often involves people. Perhaps a person you were glad to know.
I have one in mind, and it so happens I met him through golf. You would have liked him.
Sal Lupo was one of the original McHenry Boys. McHenry, the far northwestern suburb of Chicago, was the hometown of Gary Adams, father of the modern metal wood. Sal, a marketing communications whiz, had an agency in Chicago. He helped Adams get Taylor Made (now TaylorMade-adidas Golf) off the ground in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Sal moved to California with Gary, sticking with him through his subsequent companies ' Founders Club and McHenry Metals ' and through the long wrestle with pancreatic cancer that Adams eventually lost with a champions grace.
Even after Sal had slowed down his business activities, I spoke with him occasionally. He had moved back to Prospect Heights, near Chicago, to be closer to his grandkids. And whenever we spoke, he was always as cordial ' yet warm and informal ' as anyone I have ever met. And thats no surprise, because Sal was that way from the moment I entered the business in 1993 as a former lawyer with golf reporting ambitions. There was never any youre-a-rookie-with-dues-to-pay treatment. Sal was always a gentleman.
Thats why the shock lingers from Sals death last month. He fell, injuring his head, and never recovered. One revelation met with surprise ' the fact that Sal was past 80, a fact belied by his continued vigor.
The thing about Sal was, it was never about Sal. He was as generous with his time and effort as he was with his smile, and he always seemed to be looking out for someone else. In the year before he died, he asked me to join with other industry veterans in a letter-writing campaign to encourage the leaders of the World Golf Hall of Fame to consider admitting Gary Adams for his contributions to the game. (Look at your favorite metal wood. Remember how good it feels to pure it. Nuff said.)
Evidently, helping out was Sals stock in trade.
He was a wonderful father and just a great guy, said Patti Lupo, one of his daughters, when she informed TaylorMade executives of her fathers death. He was always so proud of the work that he did for Taylor Made and for the tremendous success of the company. As you know, he was there from the very beginning in Gary Adams garage in McHenry, when metal woods were completely new to the golf industry.
To see how that dream transformed the golf industry and to be a part of that and the game he loved so much was a source of joy for him.
Sal was unique, except in one respect: This is a game, and an industry, filled with Sals. Men and women who habitually extend a hand both to shake and to offer help. People of principle but not severity or undue formality. You know what I mean. You have met such people on the tee at your regular muni, at your club, on your kids high school team, across the bracket in an amateur tournament. Ive been at this in various forms for more than a decade now, and the supply of Sals, thank goodness, appears to be endless.
So thats where I will direct a substantial portion of this years thanks ' after wife, kid, dog, parents, friends, comfortable and happy home. Then comes the game, and especially the people it has allowed me to meet.
And, alas, miss.
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