By Charlie Blanchard

It has been an interesting year. But I’m thankful it wasn’t like last year. We saw the light at the end of the tunnel for the end of the pandemic – possibly. (Our hearts go out to those taken away by the pandemic.) This Thanksgiving week, I am grateful for so many things, one of which is the fact that we have a vaccine available for virtually everyone, and the majority of Americans have had their shots. Some have chosen not to be vaccinated for various reasons. Personally, I have had two injections and a booster, and I feel safe and protected.

Then I am very grateful for our freedom. I am extremely grateful to our military veterans (yes, I am one of them) who fought and died to keep America “the land of the free and the homeland of the brave.” With all the changes to our names and our culture, thank goodness there is still Veterans Day. We must all keep in mind that freedom is not free!

We owe a big thank you to our four golf courses in Las Cruces, especially for providing our golfing community with these wonderful sites to play each week. Our classes were closed for six weeks in 2020, but thanks to my good friend Dave Kimble (and others) they’ve been up and running since then for everyone’s enjoyment. Not many other cities our size in the United States have the same golfing opportunities. (Perhaps the golf course near White Sands Missile Range will be renovated and will be playable again someday.)

I am grateful to the PGA professionals who manage our golf courses and provide golf instruction. The NMSU’s PGA Professional Golf Management program, which is part of the School of Business, supports these chief pros, who educate and train future PGA pros to manage and develop the game we love. The people enrolled in the PGM program, all of whom are excellent golfers, work part-time at the four golf courses in Las Cruces; they represent the future of golf. These students and our community are grateful to Pat Gavin, Director of the PGM program, now in his 34th year. Here is a thank you to Josh Salmon, Deputy Director of PGM who recently returned from managing the 50e New York Marathon (26.2 miles), with Henry Stetina, PGM program coordinator. Salmon and Stetina, along with two other runners from the Sun Country PGA section of the marathon, were part of a 12-man contingent representing Team PGA Reach, a PGA charitable foundation with a mission to impact the young people, the military and various members of the golfing community. The PGA Reach team raised over $ 41,000 in donations through their run in the New York Marathon. Congratulations and thank you guys!

I am also deeply grateful to the Las Cruces Bulletin, and in particular to Editor Richard Coltharp and Editor-in-Chief Dave Burge, for providing a very good quality weekly newspaper. At the beginning of next year I will start my 17e year as the Golf Newsletter editor, feeling very grateful to all of our loyal readers over the years.

We should all be grateful to the first responders, doctors, nurses, medical technicians, nursing assistants, orderlies and others who keep our health services running. I hope the nursing shortage caused by the pandemic is only temporary. And I don’t forget the firefighters and police officers who protect us on a daily basis.

If you don’t play golf often with a regular group, you’re missing out. My golfing friends are something I cherish and am very grateful for. Of course, we play for a few dollars, but nobody comes away with money; the money goes for the drinks.

Finally, I give thanks for the abundance we enjoy as Americans. Not all of our people enjoy such abundance, and that is why we must give generously to organizations and charities that care for our less fortunate. Happy Thanksgiving.

Dr Charlie Blanchard is a licensed sports and leadership psychologist. Contact him at [email protected].