Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hoffman’s presence at Twin Ponds will be missed

Donald Hoffman told me he never saw anyone eat as many cheeseburgers as me.

That was about 30 or so years ago, when my waistline was a svelte 30 inches, or many, many noticeable inches less than it is today … when I couldn’t wait to finish a round of golf at Twin Ponds G.C. to get into the clubhouse and devour at least four of those cheeseburgers (seven, if I recall, was my record for one sitting).

Donald Hoffman also told me I had to be a good guy because of my first name (it took me awhile to get that because at the time I only knew him as Mr. Hoffman).

But the one thing I did get from the very first time I strolled into that clubhouse to pay my greens fees at Twin Ponds was that Donald Hoffman was a little different.

Friendly, so sociable, very gracious … he had that panache.

At the time, I had been playing golf for a few years, maybe five tops. But thanks in part to the rest of my usual foursome – Chris Grater, Jim Golie and Doug Wunder – I had the opportunity to get a round in on countless courses, both private and public, throughout the Delaware Valley.

My first visit to Twin Pounds was entirely different from all of them, though.

Different, that is, because of Donald Hoffman.

How he knew it was my first time at Twin Ponds I had no idea. I knew no one told him. Later, of course, I discovered he knew, or got to know, everyone who played his course.

But the way he greeted me, with a smile and simple ”Welcome” wasn’t something I would soon forget. Nor would I soon forget how he approached me after that first round and asked my how I liked the course.

How ironic it is that now, 30 or so years later – and just over a week since Donald Hoffman died – that I still remember that first visit … quite vividly, too.

Over the next 10 or so years, our group always got in a handful or two of rounds at Twin Ponds. A tee box or two was added here and there, as were some bushes, and the trees got taller. But the course was always immaculate – inviting fairways, manageable rough, and true-read greens – and as fair as any a hacker or low-handicapper could want.

The idea of knowing you had an opportunity to put up a low number (which wasn’t always the case, mind you) was al

ways enough to bring you back for another round … or so I once thought.

What brought most of us back was Donald Hoffman.

Everyone knew it, because after converting a farm on the property into Twin Ponds back in 1963, Donald Hoffman saw to it that he had more than just a course that would be measured beyond the yards it played to or the shots it required. His family followed his plan to the letter, and he made sure anyone else – from the cooks in the kitchen and part-time help picking up broken tees around the course all the way up to the course superintendent — did as well.

Donald Hoffman’s plan? As simple as it gets — be nice to those who walk in the front door, provide them a course that’s worth every cent they paid to play it, and always be grateful they did.

In today’s business world, that sure sounds like a lot of malarkey. Pure gibberish some would say. Maybe that’s why so many businesses, the bottom-line-only and get-me-rich-quick businesses, have failed, and why many like them will continue to fail in the not-so-distant future.

Donald Hoffman was no agronomist and, as far as I know, he didn’t have a college degree.

But was he ever the intellectual.

His building of a golf course, his no-shortcuts approach to nurturing and maintaining it, and his genuine compassion to those who came to play it, is the reason Twin Ponds has been – for 47 years now –a course that few can or will ever measure up to.



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