Rich Flores revived his golf-teaching career after fighting cardiac amyloidosis, a cancerous heart condition that still causes hot spells and shortness of breath.
Doctors told the Batavia man his heart would work at 42 percent of capacity after the cancer entered remission. Flores still isn’t sure what that ratio really means, but the chance to give lessons again is what he really counts on.
Flores sees about 20 players a week at his longtime home base, Geneva’s Mill Creek Golf Club. That total was 60 to 80 before he became sick two years ago.
“The doctors just said to take it easy and know I could not do what I used to, which is OK,” Flores said. “That’s what I’m doing, and I’m at peace with that.”
Flores’ lessons last 30 to 45 minutes, his normal duration, and range from 10 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. four days a week. Flores, 56, usually takes off Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. Chemotherapy treatments – which he’ll require once a month for the rest of his life – are Mondays.
Flores also visits a cardiologist and stem cell doctor once every six months.
These days, that agenda merely comes as something he rattles off to friends or students checking in on how he’s doing. There’s certainly enough of those.
It’s been two summers since Tom Ryan, brother of Flores’ wife, Judy, organized a benefit golf outing at Pheasant Run in St. Charles, but Flores often hearkens back to those memories.
“It was amazing. I still can’t get over all the support and players we had,” he said. “I still just kind of think about it and say, ‘Wow, what a blessing.’ Some great family and some friends and a lot of support.”
While Flores welcomes adult players, his focus remains steeped in the junior scene.
“Everybody in junior golf knows who he is,” said Mill Creek director of golf Steve Feddern, a longtime friend. “No question.”
Still the uncertain timetable behind his recovery led some former students to find other coaches, which Flores understood.
“It’s no big deal to me,” he said, “as long as they get help.”
Flores gave lessons on a more limited basis last summer and is building his stamina to golf more often.
The St. Charles High alumnus said he felt “pretty good” after playing nine holes with a friend Wednesday morning.
Considering where he was not long ago, Flores will take it.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.
Time to square off
Here's a look at Saturday's Round of 16 tee times for the championship flight match-play tournament portion of the St. Charles Men's Tournament. The event's second weekend gets under way with B-flight matches beginning at 7 a.m at Pottawatomie Golf Course. Winners advance to Sunday's quarterfinals.
Matt Daly, who fired a qualifying-round 74 this past weekend, is the top seed as defending champion. Chris Jones is seeded second after winning a three-hole playoff with Sean Lenchner. Both men carded qualifying 72s.
11:30 a.m.: Matt Daly vs. Eliot Kaufman11:30 a.m.: Chris Jones vs. Joe Tigan11:37 a.m.: Garrett Patten vs. Jon Woods11:37 a.m.: Richard Geier vs. Nick Maze11:45 a.m.: Brian Charles vs. Mike Heithoff11:45 a.m.: Sean Lenchner vs. Jim Funk11:52 a.m.: David Lanciotti vs. Anthony Damico11:52 a.m.: Chris Thomas vs. Rick Pechous
Out in the open
St. Charles East alumnus Jenny Niemiec shaved seven strokes from her opening-round score at the Illinois Women's Open to make the 34-player cut at Romeoville's Mistwood Golf Club.
Her even-par 72 Thursday put Niemiec at 7-over 151, tied for 22nd place. The Northern Illinois junior enters today's final round eight shots behind leader Samantha Postillion.
Kaneland product Hayley Guyton, an Illinois State junior, missed the cut by one stroke after shooting separate 77s. Guyton has remained busy this summer, staying close in Mid-American Junior Golf Tour events at Purdue and Illinois State, among her other tournaments.
"This summer, it's been good," Guyton said this week. "I've seen a lot of really good things coming out of my practicing. It's been frustrating with losing a couple playoffs, so I'm right there, but there's definitely work to be done with practicing under pressure."