Had life flowed passively and according to plan, Dave Beardmore would be secure in a comfortable position as a country club golf professional. Attractive surroundings, a staff of assistants, assured income and multiple benefits. Doing what he wanted to do.
It didn't work that way. Diabetes, deteriorating vision, an infected kidney and pancreas (both which had to be removed via transplant surgery) and now a residual problem, arteriosclerosis. But Dave Beardmore doesn't complain. Not a word.
No protests, self-sympathy or regrets over what might-have-been. Every breath is precious and each day is a dividend that puts him ahead of the game on the scorecard of life.
The problems can't be reversed, but he's a quiet fighter. Beardmore was away from golf, a sport he loves and is again teaching with enthusiasm and incredible effectiveness, during 10 debilitating years. In truth, he's lucky to be alive.
There had been so much promise for the future. He has a special ability to examine a golf swing, detect the flaws and impart repair. His theories deal with simplification, a full utilization of what everyone has but doesn't always use -- the elements of centrifugal force.
He was one of the first Maryland recipients of a pancreas and kidney transplant, a gift of life he received from a man he didn't know, one Philip Campbell of Rochester, N.Y. "What that meant to me," said Dave, "can't be put into words. This was a man who loved humanity so much he gave his organs so that I, a stranger to him, could live. There's no higher legacy one can leave. It's impossible to adequately describe such supreme kindness."
Beardmore searches for more profound words to convey his feelings. Tears befog his eyes. This has been an exciting comeback year. He's still troubled with a circulatory problem in a leg and has been hospitalized twice in the last month. But he's elated to be able to teach golf and does it so well there's unstinting acclaim from frustrated golfers who find their way to his instructional tee -- the Night Hawk Golf Center in Gambrills.
"I was on Route 3, driving past this location on my way to the hospital when they were building it a year ago," he says. "I stopped to introduce myself to the owners, Chuck Chandler and Bill Forthofer. I told them I'd like to give lessons if they could use me. I was asked back for several interviews. I'm thrilled for the opportunity and the response."
There was spasmodic conversation within the Middle Atlantic professional golf community about Beardmore during the 10 years he was inactive. It was generally assumed he quit the business, had died or he was sailing the Seven Seas.
He had been a highly regarded assistant at Annapolis Roads Course, Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Va., and then at Suburban Club, where he created a loyal following within the membership for what might be called the "Beardmore School of Centrifugal Force."
The physical problems have been enough to cause despair, a kind of "what's the use?" resignation to his condition. But he fought on with illness compounding itself. There were long, delicate operations and endless weeks of looking up at hospital room ceilings.
He continually counts his blessings. Speaking of his wife, the former Brenda Sullivan of Hagerstown, he quietly remarks, "She fought for me when I couldn't do anything for myself and made decisions. There were extensive conferences with doctors and she handled most of that. The problems for her were monstrous. She helped raise our three children and held a full-time government job. How can I show my true love and devotion?"
The diabetes struck when he was only 12 but didn't race out of control until 20 years later, when he was an assistant to Don Beach at Suburban Club. It was there his skill in teaching the golf swing began to create an in-club reputation that spread elsewhere.
It also was at Suburban that one of the golfers, Dr. Arnall Patz, realized Beardmore had vision problems. He made an appointment for him with Dr. Ron Michels at the Wilmer Clinic of Johns Hopkins Hospital and a vitrectomy was performed on his left eye -- saving the sight.
"It was caused by high blood sugar and high blood pressure. I was told I could go blind. When I thought I was on the way back to teaching golf, my pancreas ceased to function and my kidneys, too. It meant three-hour dialysis treatments three days a week."
Golf was out of the question. He had almost lost his vision; next it was energy and then the pancreas and kidney transplant, which was experimental at the time and performed by Dr. Charles Currier at the Washington Hospital Center.
Deep depression ensued and staying alive was his only goal. Now he's feeling better, well enough to be back, at least on a teaching basis. Golfers are descending upon him from all parts of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. They seek his help.
It's almost as if he's giving away something no other golf professional can impart. "What I try to do is show how simple the game really is. I never had a golf lesson. I read a book as a kid by a pro named Joe Dante that gave me the basics. I added other things but not too much because centrifugal force is within all of us. It's a matter of allowing it to happen."
"I call him a fantastic 'golf doctor,' " says Mrs. William Anderson of Severna Park. "On second thought, he's a magician." Another golfer, Colette Mesich adds, "My game was a disaster until Dave worked with me. A little practice and my handicap dropped seven strokes." Jim Baker of Odenton said he was ready to give it all up, golf that is, until he met Beardmore.
Robert Dunmyer, vice president of the American Security Bank in Washington, describes his student-teacher relationship this way: "My experience has been excellent. He recognized my potential was limited but is patient and helpful. He realized I could be respectable and not an embarrassment to myself on the course. Several weeks ago I broke 90 in a tournament."
The testimonials continue, but David Beardmore is involved again in golf and that's important. "I've felt a rebirth," he says. "I had no idea life could be so enjoyable. You know, the only fun is to be able to give to others."
And that's what he's doing, grateful for the good that has come in being able to sustain life, made possible by a man he never met, and using golf as a prescription -- for himself and those he analyzes and assists on a driving range practice tee.