Golfer Mark Kurzynowski celebrates after chipping in a shot at the City Golf Championship last week at Cascades Golf Course. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.
By Jeff Steers
Little did Jackson golf Mark Kurzynowski know that the City Golf Championship win in 2009 could be his last.
After nearly 15 years of winning local titles – and dominating Jackson golf in the years 1998 to 2003 – the long hitting Kurzynowski would soon find that health concerns would interrupt his championship run.
A year later, Kurzynowski could feel that something was not right in his back. Two years later doctors would insert two eight-inch rods in his back with a “cage” around the rods.
“I was diagnosed with two degenerative discs and three degenerative vertebrae in my back,” Kurzynowski said last week after losing in the Jackson City Golf Championships at Cascades Golf Course.
“I think it came from bad decisions in my 20s and the wear-and-tear of beating golf balls for years.
He had the surgery in January of 2012, but didn’t pick up a golf club for at least eight months.
“I just started with some chip shots,” Kurzynowski said. “I didn’t play tournament golf for a couple of years.”
Like PGA Tour professional Tiger Woods, Kurzynowski had to learn how to change his swing and some of his golf practice methods.
“The days of hitting four buckets of balls was over,” Kurzynowski said.
But he learned a few things along the way back.
“I had to take a little shorter swing to protect my back,” Kurzynowski said. “I went back to look at videos of my swing and get rid of any bad habits developed when my back hurt.
“I learned to love just playing.”
Kurzynowski – a four-time Jackson City champion – returned to form last year advancing to the finals. He lost, but probably gained a lot of confidence along the way.
He said regaining his putting stroke is the hardest part.
“To win championships, you have to make putts at key moments,” Kurzynowski said.
Case in point, he had a chance to close out six-time Jackson City champion Steve Maddalena twice in the recent City Championship at Cascades Golf Course. Kurynowski missed a downhill, speedy putt down the hill on hole No. 17 – something everyone who has played that hole has experienced.
On 18, his 10-foot birdie putt was struck just a little two hard resulting in the dreaded horseshoe around the hole.
“I guess the golf gods are getting back at me for all of those putts I made in the past,” Kurzynowski said with a smile.
He looks to get back in the winner’s circle in the near future.
“I hear all of the whispers and rumors that I can’t win anymore,” Kurzynowski said. “I have thought about what it would mean to win again … I would probably bust out my emotions.
“I just love to play golf.”
Mark Kurzynowski local golf wins
City Championships – 1999, 2003, 2006, 2009
County Open championships – 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005
Jackson Masters championships – 1998, 2000, 2003
Lyle Ambs Memorial championships – 2001, 2002, 2006
Michigan Amateur qualifier – 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005
Spring Thaw championships – 1994, 1999, 2000, 2001
Tournament of Championship wins – 1998, 2000, 2003
Jackson Golf Hall of Fame induction – 2007