AL HAMNIK: Men of Leisure bring their golf game home once again

2013-07-08T19:00:00Z 2013-07-09T18:42:17Z AL HAMNIK: Men of Leisure bring their golf game home once againAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 08, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

There are good friends and there are "buddies," guys you'd jump into a fox hole and do battle with in a heartbeat.

Bob Alvarez has no shortage of the latter.

You might remember the name. Alvarez graduated from Lew Wallace in 1973, attended Indiana University, and once served as sports director of Channel 50 when it was located behind Lake Central High School.

For the past 35 years, Alvarez and his lifelong buddies -- many of whom he grew up with in Glen Park -- have held their "Men of Leisure" golf outing in the region during the July 4th weekend.

"It's amazing to do anything for 35 years, besides work," Alvarez said. "We've had a lot of fun. Everybody feels a bond with each other. We grew up together. Many of us went to kindergarten together."

Last weekend, they once again came from all parts of the country to tee off at Palmira in St. John, where 24 buddies showed up this time. In past years, that number reached as high as 35.

"Part of it is the commitment to each other," Alvarez said of the event's longevity. "And when we got married, it incorporated their wives and children into our group.

"Lord help us. This may never end."

The Men of Leisure, most of whom are Lew Wallace and IU grads, are former jocks who have been "buddies" for nearly 45 years.

When you live hundreds of miles away and make an annual holiday golf outing a top priority on your calendar, your clique is extremely tight.

Any tighter and it would turn purple.

All are still with us, thankfully, and with today's social media explosion, it's as easy to communicate now as if they all live on the same street.

"It's a never-any-friction love-in, Alvarez said. "Everyone gets along and accepts everybody."

Their latest reunion included brothers Phil, Gary and Nick Gerbick; brothers Kevin and Steve Medved; Dave Hoffman, Mark Derek, Rick Feterick, Bob Susterich, Dave Atzhorn, Gary Hensley, Mike Stojslavic, Mark Plewniak, Mick Kimmet and Don Ulemek.

Many have made names for themselves since leaving Glen Park.

Feterick runs a business in Chicago, Susterich is a successful insurance man in California, Hensley was a chaplain in the U.S. Army for 30 years, Stojslavic is a professional trainer and owns a gym in California, Ulemek is a former Golden Gloves boxer, Atzhorn was a basketball standout at the Air Force Academy, and Alvarez does TV work in the Tampa-St. Pete area.

"It's toned down over the years," Alvarez said, "but it still gets pretty crazy."

Golf is not the Men of Leisure's only link to each other. Weddings also bring them together.

"I don't think we have a grandfather yet," Alvarez added.

Buddies are often selfish with their boys' night out four times a week while the wife and kids are stuck at home, but not this group.

Golf is just the warmup act that holiday weekend.

"Seven or eight years ago, we started having a post-golf picnic -- with fireworks," Alvarez said. "So everybody's happy."

Smart. Very, very smart.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

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