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Feature Story: "Reminiscing back and Reflecting"
Written By: Timothy 'Yogi' Nicholls
First off, please forgive me if there are any grammar errors. I write in more of what you would call a Street-Greek, around the campfire colloquial style. I don't claim to be a trained and talented writer I'm just a guy simply trying to tell a true story and convey its message to anyone that may have ears to hear.
On February 15th, the day after Valentine's Day was the 28th anniversary of Count Yogi's passing away. Every year on this date I like to take a few hours of the day to think back and thank Yogi, my Master Teacher, and our Creator for all they have done for me over the years. I thought I would share some things in this article that I have never shared before and by sharing them it may help or least give many a better understanding of not only what Count Yogi's golfing 'art form' really is but its athletically common sense intelligence and masterful physics facilitated with a precise mental art technique.
I begin with when I first met the Count. It was in the summer of 1962. I was 11 years old at the time and was a childhood friend of two of his male children that did not live with him due to a divorce between their mother and Yogi 7 years prior. The boys and I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb north of the greater Los Angeles area. On that early summer day the boys and I were in the front yard playing baseball catch. While enjoying the simple pleasure of throwing a baseball back and forth there was this sudden honk from an automobile. I had my back towards the street so I turned around to look and there was this big, shiny midnight blue Cadillac convertible pulled up at the curb. I asked my friend; "who's that?" He replied; "that's my Dad Count Yogi, he's the world's greatest golfer and entertainer"! I just kind of went; OH! At that time I knew nothing at all about golf. I was more into baseball and was already hooked and learning how to surf.
As the boys and I all started to walk up to the car to greet him and as I got close enough to shake his hand I distinctly remember how he looked to this very day. At the time he would have been in his mid-50 years but he looked 30. He had unbelievable energy and charisma with striking good looks. He had thick, full, dark, wavy hair with green eyes and tan olive skin. He was dressed in a suit and tie, with cuff links, a tie pin and sparkling shined shoes. He looked like a cross between Elvis Presley, Tony Curtis and Richard Eagan. He also seemed to have this incredible aura of positive energy around him like an illuminating positive light that glowed and radiated from him and that always made you feel good about everything. He literally looked like a movie star. Also in the car with him was the most beautiful blonde woman I had ever met personally to that point in my life. I use the term 'movie star' here very sparingly because I was born in Hollywood and grew up in the Los Angeles area most of my early life. With my mother's side of the family who owned restaurants in the Hollywood area near where some of the movie studios were, I grew up seeing and interacting with a lot of actors so for me it became a normal thing for me to see them and not to be so star struck in any way. There just people like you and I who have visions, dreams and goals that they want to accomplish.
The reason he was in town was that twice a year when touring the west coast with his road show he would always stop in for a day or two to give their mother money and to see his son's and take them out for a nice dinner in Beverly Hills and with usually a gorgeous lady with him and then drop them off at the movies, then pick them up later and go for desert. I found out later that this was the arrangement insisted by the boys' mother who had re-married. I was asked and invited this time to come along and that's what we did. From that day on whenever he would be in town again he would always invite me and though I did not play golf at the time I would always look forward to it because Yogi was so much fun and cool to hang out with.
I found out later that in the earlier years of his show he used to always have Beauty Queens and past sports stars travel and tour with him. But it soon became apparent to Yogi that they could not keep up with his energetic schedule and all of them would get worn out and down to the point of getting sick so he began to travel alone. "ALL 3 MILLION MILES BY AUTO ALONE", working daily without ever taking a day off in 25 of 30 years!!
From hence forth I would meet him at least once or twice a year until his semi-retirement in 1973 (two years before Tiger Woods was born) when Yogi's third book was published. It was the hardcover first edition: "5 Simple Steps To Perfect Golf" ©, Published first By: Nash Publishing and later picked up for a paperback version By: Simon & Schuster which were distributed and sold all over the Orient from 1979 through the mid 1980's. It ended up being the most sold book on golf that Simon & Schuster ever published. So there is no wonder that so many good golfers, especially the woman who more than men comprehend style and grace coming from out of Asia today.
Why? Because most of those books at that time were being purchased by all of the teaching pros and the wealthy elite and their children. If you look at their styles, and compare them to the Count Yogi YouTube videos, many of them are very 'Yogi Like' because even though the books don't give or instruct all of the art they are still very helpful to all, especially at that skill level.
As the years past after his partial retirement from performing, I began to spend more and more time with the Count. I started to get interested in the game and naturally who else would I learn from but him. My personal and advanced training and apprenticeship officially started in 1981. I was 30 years old at the time. It was one of the most important and valuable decisions I have ever made in my life and I will be eternally grateful to God for bringing his gift through Yogi to me because the 'mental' part has not only enriched my golf but has enriched my life in so many ways.
I have been asked over the years, "How and why did I become the sole heir and preserver of the 'art form'?" Yogi was the fulfillment of the caring, considerate, patient, and wisdom-giving father I never had. Yogi respected and was honored by that and treated me like I was his own son. He told me on a number of occasions that he saw in me the ability to be loyal, honest and not easily gullible. He respected and appreciated that. This, and years of loyal, respectful and consistent dedication, is why he chose me as his apprentice, sole heir and preserver of his legacy and golfing technique and art form.
I have heard over the years by many people telling me how lucky I was to have been chosen to be his understudy and apprentice and not to have gone through and experienced the bombardment of all the various and endless golf concepts and theories that still plague the game today. It has taken me more years and time to learn about these other concepts and theories than what it took to learn Yogi's way. I only did it for a while so when teaching or communicating with others I could understand the terminologies that they would use. But I have to tell you, it takes all the patience and understanding that I can muster to even listen to all that stuff and golf 'Babylon' because none of it has anything really to do with becoming and staying a good golfer. In fact, some of it is actually harmful to install on the hard-drive between your ears.
The Count proved that his Creator given way of playing the game was best because as when you age you become more graceful instead of awkward, and the more you practice the better you get (quickly), and the better you get, the easier it is to consistently maintain the higher level achieved. This is all completely opposite for most people playing today pro or armature. Meaning; in what is traditionally taught, the older one gets the more un-balanced and awkward they become and the better they get the harder it is to maintain that level. You only have to look at golf stars from the not too distant past to see this point made here.
With that said this brings me back to the subject and object of this article; when I was reminiscing this past February 15th I began to remember when Yogi at age 84 went out to the lower California desert area to film the "Simple Set System" © production which for now is included in the "Platform To Perfection" ® © kit. Parts of it are seen on the Count Yogi ® Facebook wall and YouTube Channel. Unfortunately I was unable to go with him that day but I remembered all the strength and courage that he had to muster up to go out and do those film shoots. Reason being is that he was diagnosed with advance, inoperable liver cancer. He was 7 pints of blood short and anemic. Yet in the one piece where he is hitting (playing shots for a Yogi Golfer) balls between two large palm trees 100 + yards out and only a few feet apart and the shots are consistently straight through and averaging around 260 yards in his condition makes you have to wonder. There is no golfer, pro or amateur that ever lived that could do such a feat at that age and condition.
There is no sin in being ignorant or close minded. It is only a sin for you to stay that way. When watching this film, this is when your common sense and personal intellect have to kick in and give what Yogi is doing an honest and fair examination. Because it was obvious to me, and has been for many others over the years that if Count Yogi could go out at that age and in that condition, with those infirmities and still do what he did, than common logic should resonate in your mind; "I need to know what Count Yogi knew!!!"
In the mean time I will continue my quest while I am still in a flesh body and repeat again in this modern era what Count Yogi (aka Harry M. Frankenberg) did back in Chicago in the winter of 1930-40 with a young man named Ben Hogan who was ready to throw in the towel and quite professional tournament golf but Yogi saved his game and brought him back to a greatness like he never had before. I can and will do it again. I have been trained for it. I just need someone in faith to step forward and watch the world wonder in amazement!!!
P.S. We are looking for current or inspiring to-be men and women who desire to have a very successful professional tour playing career using Count Yogi's "The Golf Art"™.
Timothy 'Yogi' Nicholls, Count Yogi's Apprentice and Protégé
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