SHERIDAN — Pete Crozier has a good understanding of what his 15-year-old son Gavin endures living with Type 1 diabetes. However, Pete Crozier doesn’t know, at least firsthand, the grind a diabetic tackles each and every day — having to listen to one’s body every couple of hours, adjusting to outside influences, the anxiety that comes with living with a disease that can kill someone.
And while playing 50 rounds of golf in 50 days in 50 states isn’t the same as battling diabetes, it gives Crozier a different lens through which to view the disease.
“This trip is a metaphor for what people with diabetes face,” Crozier said. “It’s kind of an endurance test. It’s a grind every single day. It’s an absolute grind. If something goes wrong, I have to adjust. I’m not diminishing the disease, but if I can feel like my son feels for a day, I will be a better dad at the end of all this.”
Crozier’s journey took him to The Powder Horn Golf Club last week, his 26th round played. But the idea to embark on the ambitious trek around the country — in an effort to raise funds for diabetes research — began last year. Following another Crozier Open — a golf tournament created by the Croziers in honor of their father who died 20 years ago from complications with Type 1 diabetes — Pete Crozier wanted to do something else to honor his father. With Pete Crozier turning 50, the numbers started to line up. Upon returning home to Columbus, Ohio, Crozier typed in a simple Google search: Ohio, diabetes, golf.
He wanted to find a local connection to jumpstart the idea and stumbled upon a man from Dayton, Ohio, who won the Ohio Amateur and was the captain of his college golf team all while living with Type 1 diabetes.
After failing to get ahold of Austin Sipe, Crozier was able to phone his father Brent Sipe — the head golf pro at Moraine Country Club — and on the very next day, the three were having breakfast in Dayton, talking about Crozier’s crazy idea.
“I’ve been a pro for 25 years, building relationships with these companies, waiting for this moment,” Brent Sipe said.
“I’m a total stranger, and he’s waiting for me to come into his life, so he can do something good for his kid,” Crozier said. “It’s amazing. Every time I say it, the hairs stand up on my neck.”
Sipe goes on to tell Crozier that one of his country club members, their daughter, is married to the CEO of the Golf Channel. And even though this fortuitous connection didn’t pan out in Crozier’s favor, it encouraged him to keep searching for connections to keep the momentum for his idea going.
“It fueled me to think, ‘Well, if that’s what happened in the first meeting, anything is possible,’” Crozier said. “So I started all sorts of social media mining to see who knew who.”
After a little more digging, a man named Brian Sparks popped up on Crozier’s Linkedin account. Sparks used to work as the head golf professional at a golf course Crozier belonged to in Chicago.
Following the bread crumbs, Crozier found that Sparks now works for Swing King, a company for which Mike Jacob is the CEO. Jacob is the same person who invented the yellow first down line seen on every major football telecast.
“(Jacob) is an entrepreneur, he has invented something, he’s a risk taker, we’ll understand each other,” Crozier said.
But without a direct link, Crozier had no way to contact Jacob. So he dug a little deeper and found that the founder of Swing King is Greg Caplan, who is friends with one of the 16 that plays in the Crozier Open every year, and thus Crozier had his connection.
A couple of emails later and a few days down the road and Caplan called Crozier, who proceeded to tell him about his crazy idea. However, just like the first string of events, nothing comes of the serendipitous connection, but, just like the first string of events, it fueled Crozier to keep pushing and find the means necessary to play 50 golf courses in 50 days in 50 states.
The more the word spread, and the more conversations Crozier had about his 50 for Father idea, the closer it got to becoming a reality.
“It was really amazing seeing him over the past year making this dream and turning it into a reality,” Gavin Crozier said. “Every day he’d come home super energized with someone he got to talk to and share his story with, and this dream of his was turning into reality.”
Sponsors such as Nike, Troon Golf, Titleist signed on to donate rounds. Avis gave Crozier a van to drive all over the country.
With the funds in order last winter, Crozier began planning his route. He drew up multiple itineraries and eventually settled on one where he’d start in North Carolina on May 27, travel through the Bible Belt, across the Southwest, up through the Pacific Northwest, back eastward before finishing in Massachusetts.
The route isn’t the most efficient, as it’s more than just about golf. Crozier and his son attended the Women’s U.S. Open in South Carolina. Crozier took his daughters to the Grand Canyon and up the West Coast.
Crozier is playing rounds with old high school teammates in St. Louis, teeing it up on a course where he’s a current member in Ohio and finishing on the course where his dad learned how to play the game that he’d later pass on to his son.
Crozier has a goal to raise $50,000 and with 32 courses played, Crozier has raised north of $36,000. Crozier has taken 330,378 steps — walking as many courses as possible — driven 8,946 miles and logged 2,653 shots. Crozier has carded 32 birdies, 235 pars and 241 bogeys.
His journey took him to Sheridan where he played The Powder Horn, and he enjoyed his round in more ways than one. He was impressed with how well-manicured the course was, how gorgeous the scenery stood and how he inched closer to his goal of recording more pars than bogeys — Crozier finished with an 85 (13-over).
Crozier’s trip has entailed flights to both Alaska and Hawaii. To accommodate those states, he has played 36 holes in one day twice thus far with one more such days on tap.
So far Crozier has encountered zero snags — injuries, car trouble, etc. — in his journey. While he feels physically good, he’s fighting the mental fatigue that golf puts on an individual.
“What this trip tells me is what an amazing person (my father) is,” Gavin Crozier said. “He’s able to see that other people do struggle, and he realizes that if he can just experience it for a little while and try and get a little taste of what other people go through, it will help him in the end. It’s really inspiring.”
Crozier has loved the game of golf ever since his dad introduced him to the game. He enjoys the strategy, skill and mental fortitude it takes to play a round.
But now, Crozier has a new reason to love the game of golf. It has given him a means to honor his father and raise money for a disease that has shaped his life in more ways than one.
“How lucky am I,” Crozier said. “… Go find your thing, go speak your truth because if you go out there and do that it becomes purpose not paycheck and mission not money. … I’ve found my thing, and it drives me to exhaustion but then I wake up energized to do it again because I love it so much.”