TAMPA - Mike Abell isn't a PGA professional and he's only a decent golfer.
He doesn't bring a scratch handicap to the game, but he brings his heart and a passion for the game that is unmatched.
Abell, 74, works at the Northdale Golf Club. He has no real job description. He doesn't teach, he doesn't play a lot, but he's had one great golfing life. Actually, he's had a great life altogether. The Cheval resident has been playing most of his life - mostly in the Kansas City area where he worked in hospital administration for more than 30 years. He coached high school golf and always knew that once it came time to retire, he wanted to make golf a major part of his life.
So he moved to Cheval and got a job at Northdale, where he does everything. Really, everything. He has enough money to live comfortably, but being around the game and its people, a special group of people who love to play golf for a living, is what he feels is most important.
"I am so blessed to do what I do every day," Abell said. "Working in a hospital and helping people for 30 years, then moving to Florida and working in golf? What could be better?"
Abell defines the term "Jack of all trades." He does a little bit of everything at Northdale. He doesn't mind emptying trash cans, filling water jugs, riding around the course politely urging players to keep up with the pace. He sits near the first tee and sets tee times, always with a smile. No job, he said, is too small, as long as he gets to make the drive to Northdale on a regular basis.
"My entire job description at Northdale is to make the golfer and their experience as pleasant as I can," Abell said. "The game has given a lot to me so I am giving back to the game. Nothing makes me happier than when someone tells me they had a great experience and that they want to come back again."
Abell has always given back to the game he loves. At Western Kentucky University he raised more than $600,000 for golf scholarships. He's gotten plenty back from the game as well. He's played Augusta National, home of The Masters, four times and scored a hole-in-one several years ago while playing a round with his son on Father's Day. The following year, his son got another treat, a trip to play Augusta National.
"If I break 90, I am happy," Abell said. "Anytime I am on the golf course I am happy. It's all about the love of the game."