WMU News

Pritchard draws life lessons from passion for golf

Feb. 11, 2004

KALAMAZOO--After a long academic career spent examining the philosophical and ethical challenges of the modern world, a Western Michigan University professor found a mid-life return to the game of golf offered a new and very personal framework for looking at life.

The result is "Golf Lessons--Links to Life," a book published in January by Dr. Michael S. Pritchard, the Willard A. Brown Professor of Philosophy at WMU and co-director of the University's Center for the Study of Ethics in Society. The book features 60 autobiographical stories about life's lessons, linked to Pritchard's lifetime of experiences on the golf course.

Pritchard played golf on his high school and college teams and has played intensely for much of his adult life--except for one 18-year period, when he played only occasionally. It was about the time of his return to avid pursuit of the sport that he began writing short stories that drew parallels between the game and his observations about life.

"I've had a mini-obsession with golf most of my life," Pritchard says. "It had a certain function in my early years and another one later in my life. Some of the reflections I associated with golf could just as easily have come from another activity. My guess is that everyone has something in their life like golf lessons."

For Pritchard, recounting his life's golf lessons led to a series of musings that weave the story of his life together with bogies, Mulligans, sand traps and the search for the elusive hole-in-one.

The stories cover his teenage years as a caddy, his time in college and graduate school, life as a young professor, trips to professional conferences and his days playing golf on courses that ranged from a Breckenridge, Colo., course high in the Rockies to Scotland's fabled St. Andrews Golf Course.

"There is more to life than golf," Pritchard admits in the book's opening chapter. "There is also more to golf than golf. That's what I want to talk about."

To illustrate the book, Pritchard chose a series of drawings, created over decades by his uncle, Brett Eddy, a corporate accountant with a lifelong love of drawing and cartooning that earned him a reputation in Detroit art circles. After Eddy's death, Pritchard began sorting through hundreds of sketches and was looking for a way to give other people access to them. To his delight, the drawings and his stories about golf seemed to fit, and the drawings appear throughout the book.

For Pritchard, a veteran of the world of academic publishing, writing "Golf Lessons" was unlike anything he's previously published.

"I'm the authority on this in a way I couldn't have been in an academic piece, and I didn't have to worry about doing justice to someone else's thinking on a topic," Pritchard says. "While I was writing, I was thinking more about the readers being people who already know me, but some people who don't know me, or even those who don't play golf, might find something that resonates."

Pritchard will sign copies of his new book from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, at Athena Book Shop, 154 S. Kalamazoo Mall, in downtown Kalamazoo.

Pritchard, a WMU faculty member since 1968, is the author of "Philosophical Adventures With Children," "On Becoming Responsible" and "Reasonable Children," as well as more than 80 articles on ethics, political philosophy and the philosophical thinking of children. In addition, he is the co-author of "Communication Ethics" and "Engineering Ethics." Currently, Pritchard is working on a book on professional responsibility.

The book is available locally through the WMU Bookstore or Athena Book Shop or by sending e-mail to the publisher, Buttonwood Press, at <RLBald@aol.com>.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400