Jeff Dickson, a longtime high school math teacher from Southwest, enjoyed "a weekend like no other" recently, pairing his highest golf tournament finish with a superlative night on the bowling lanes.
Dickson finished second in the Cassville Golf Association Master of Masters with a two-over par 74, trailing winner Chuck Edie by only two strokes and winning the handicap portion of the tournament.
To celebrate and relax, Dickson strolled to the bowling alley that night and mowed down frame after frame enroute to a 289 score. The previous Monday, he also posted a 289 in league play at Springfield's Sunshine Lanes after opening with 10 consecutive strikes.
But the golf accomplishment seemed more significant.
"That's the highest I have ever placed in a tournament," said Dickson. "Placing second was a shock to me, because I had been playing so poorly the previous two weeks."
Dickson has been up and down with the game of golf by his own admission. Although he now carries a six handicap, it has been a slow road up from the ranks of the average.
"I started slow and became fairly decent by the early to mid 90s. A broken wrist in 1996 set my golf game back," said Dickson. "It was not until about four years ago that I started to pick things back up."
Dickson is arguably a better bowler than golfer, with a perfect 300 game to his credit.
"Dec. 19, 2005, at Sunshine Lanes," he responded automatically regarding the perfecto. He also posted a high series of 748 two years ago. He currently bowls in two leagues at Sunshine Lanes and carries a book average of 208 with the United States Bowling Congress.
"If you look at me, you will know I don't train," Dickson says. "I pretty much play both sports year round. I take the summer months off from bowling and the winter months off from golf to keep from burning myself out."
"Golf and bowling are both sports that if your rhythm is right you can get hot," Dickson added.
Dickson believes his power is an advantage on both the course and the lanes.
"I can throw the bowling ball at higher speeds and stay in more control than most, and that helps me with different lane conditions," Dickson said. "The same goes for golf, where my distance with the driver helps to overcome a weakness with the putter.
"I also believe that in any sport you do competitively, you must be mentally strong. If I think I am going to fail, I usually do. I try to keep those thoughts out of my mind, but it is not always possible."
Despite his success in both sports, he is realistic about his abilities and enjoys each sport tremendously. After bowling and golfing for 25 years, Dickson says, "I could never go pro at either sport. I am just happy to earn enough money at bowling in local tourneys to help pay for my golf habit."
Like many area athletes, Jeff Dickson played football and baseball as a schoolboy and still regrets giving up those sports too early.
"I try to pass along my lesson learned to all students about playing as long as you can," said Dickson. "You never want to look back and say 'what if?' as I have done."