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The Summer of Golf examines the sport’s post-pandemic popularity boom at local courses in South Orange County and showcases the play of each course through the eyes of our resident normal, below-average new golfer. Click here to read previous entries in this series.

By Zach Cavanagh

Golf is a way of life for the 86-year-old Happy Golfer, Nick Karnazes of San Clemente. Karnazes loves his family, being Greek, his church (St. Basil in San Juan Capistrano) and golf—in that order.

Karnazes, who lives just off the San Clemente Municipal Course, has a six-word motto: eat, sleep, drive, play golf, repeat. Karnazes has dubbed himself as “The Happy Golfer,” and the game has taken him on a journey.

From his father giving him his first clubs as a teen, to making his high school and college teams through sheer determination, from competing in the Los Angeles Open at Riviera Country Club in 1973, to playing 96 rounds of golf—two in each of the contiguous 48 states—in 96 days traveling in a Winnebago in 2009, Karnazes has seen plenty of fairways and greens.

With that experience, Karnazes has provided “The Happy Golfer’s ABCs of Golf” for players young and old to take to heart:

A – Absolutely the best game in the world.

B – Balance. In golf as in life, you must have balance.

C – Competition. It’s you against the golf course. Good luck.

D – Don’t give up. Never.

E – Everlasting. Play from five to 95 years of your life.

F – Fun. 18 chances to have a lot of fun.

G – Give. Do it right, and the game will give you all you can handle.

H – Happy. Very happy my dad got me clubs when I was 16 years old.

I – Individual. It’s only you against the golf course.

J – Jump up in the air when you make a birdie, par or even bogey. Show your feelings.

K – Karnazes, Nick. The Happy Golfer.

L – Love each and every minute on the golf course.

M – Mental. It’s more than 100% in your brain before you put it in your hands.

N – Nice. Nice golf hat, nice clubs, nice shot or nice round.

O – Observe. Is it uphill? Downhill? Into the wind? Wind at my back? Always observe.

P – Putter. Don’t get me started. More than 50% of golf.

Q – Quick. The opposite of slow, and golf is in between. Have an even tempo.

R – Right. Always keep the right score for yourself, in golf and in life.

S – Strong. Be strong when you don’t play well, but stronger when you do.

T – Together. I love my foursome. We have played together over 50 years.

U – Use your brain, your clubs, your ability to perform.

V – Victory. Feel your victory when you put your ball on the tee on hole No. 1.

W – Whenever you get the chance, tee it up.

X – X-ray vision for reading tricky breaking putts.

Y – You. There is your golf ball. There is the hole. You make it happen.

Z – Zzz’s. When you’re not golfing, sleep and dream about golf tomorrow.

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