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Friday, November 28, 2014
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Published: Monday, 4/21/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

COMMENTARY

Toledo golf scene to lose its top pro

DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST
Don Kotnik, soon to turn 70, said this will be his final season as the PGA Master Professional at Toledo Country Club. Don Kotnik, soon to turn 70, said this will be his final season as the PGA Master Professional at Toledo Country Club.
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Monday morning musings, reflecting on a beautiful Easter and whether we’ve finally escaped that vortex thing:

■ He isn’t calling it a retirement, but Don Kotnik, soon to turn 70, said this will be his final season as the PGA Master Professional at Toledo Country Club.

“Too much energy [to retire,]” Kotnik said. “But it is time to step aside and pursue a different agenda in the game of golf.”

At year’s end, Kotnik will have completed 45 years on the job at TCC, and he has certainly done it with distinction. There are too many honors to list, so we’ll pick the one that says it all — PGA Professional of the Year in the U.S. in 1993.

Kotnik came to Toledo from Barberton more than a half-century ago to play football and golf at the University of Toledo, where he later served as golf coach for 17 years. He’s been here pretty much ever since and has been enshrined in just about every Hall of Fame between the two Ohio cities he has called home.

Considered among the finest teachers in the nation — Golf Magazine named him to its “Top 100” list on multiple occasions — Kotnik’s greatest legacy, perhaps, will be his service to junior golf.

He joined Greg Fish, a one-time assistant, as co-founders of the Toledo Junior Golf Association, an organization which has been copied from coast to coast, and founded the PGA of America’s National Junior Championships.

In a town that has sported the likes of Harry Moffitt — one of the early presidents of the PGA of America and a member of its Hall of Fame — the legendary Byron Nelson, Marty Cromb, and Herman Lang to name a few on a list of golf pros too long to detail, Kotnik takes a backseat to none in his service to Toledo golf.

■ The NCAA recently and finally relaxed its food rule, which its president referred to as dumb, absurd, and nonsense. According to the existing rule, a bagel was a snack, but a bagel with cream cheese was a meal. Go figure.

The NCAA has a lot of rules that, at best, are nonsensical, and so many of them that ill serve student-athletes are about to be restructured or even struck from the books.

Where did they come from in the first place? Basically, so many penny-ante rules resulted from the NCAA catering to its midmajor schools, which found some power in numbers, in an effort to maintain a so-called level playing field.

Not that such a thing ever existed.

When an Ohio State has a football budget greater than, say, a Bowling Green’s total athletics budget, there is no level playing field even if some of the expenses are standardized for all schools.

That’s why years ago in the midst of a bad economy and runaway spending, the one-meal-per-day rule, with acceptable snacks, came about. The midmajors forced it and so many other rules to save money.

What we’re about to see are sweeping changes steered by the powerful BCS conferences. In effect, the approach will be that if School A can afford it, School B shouldn’t have any say in thwarting it. It will drive a further wedge between the haves and the have-nots, of course, and with it will come stipends to help cover the full cost of attendance, full medical coverage, etc., for athletes in certain sports.

The NCAA and its BCS members will change things before litigation and legislation do it for them.

■ When Barry Trotz was let go recently as the head coach of the NHL’s Nashville Predators, it ended the second-longest coaching tenure in our four major professional sports. The only coach the Predators have had in their 15-year existence, Trotz was second in tenure only to Gregg Popovich (18 seasons) of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. Who knew?

■ Baseball trivia: Who are the two winningest active managers in the major leagues?

■ After his 50-game suspension last season, stemming from baseball’s investigation into performance-enhancing substances, and his potential free-agent cost, Jhonny Peralta was allowed to walk by the Tigers.

With his successor at shortstop, Jose Iglesias, injured and out for perhaps the entire season — and unless and until Detroit makes a major move to replace him — the team will continue to man the position by committee. The faces changed Sunday when Alex Gonzalez, the Opening Day starter just 15 games ago, was released and Danny Worth was promoted from Toledo.

■ Is anyone else bothered by CBS’ constant reference to “Sir” Nick Faldo? Spare me.

■ The two winningest active MLB managers? Bruce Bochy (Padres and now Giants) has 1,540 victories and Mike Scioscia (Angels) has 1,241. Scioscia is the only active skipper who has more than 1,000 wins with one franchise.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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