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Heyl: Golfer turned author

Chip Heyl
With Heyl is co-author Sue (Crossen) McCreery.


By Don Hohler
Refelctor Sportswriter

It's hard to believe that Chip Heyl was back in Norwalk in January for something other than golf.

That was the case, however.

Heyl was at the Norwalk Library one evening previewing a book he co-authored with his Norwalk classmate Sue (Crossen) McCreery. It was on the military career of her father, Lt. Col. John R. Crossen, a previously unheralded officer in charge of a field artillery battalion in the Pacific. It was the sixth book Heyl has written but the first outside golf.

Back in the 1950s, Heyl was unquestionably the best high school golfer in the area. Tutored at the New State Road course by the pro, Bob Buchannan, Heyl took his game to Bowling Green State University. He was also very, very good there, setting a Mid-American Conference record at the time for most match wins. It was at BG where he met Glenn Apple, a fellow-golfer and life-long friend.

Heyl went to work for the government upon getting his degree. No one was certain what he did. Thatís the way it is with the CIA and those who work in the Intelligence Agency.

You here about guys who work for the government who also spend time on the golf course. Heyl was one of them.

And, like everything he does, Heyl played golf very well — 80 tournament wins well and 20 club championships between six different courses well.

Heyl was the player to beat in the Virginia-D.C. area for a number of years. Twice, he was the Northern Virginia Amateur Champion. Heyl was the Virginia Golf Association Open champion in 1975 after losing to Vinny Giles the year before in the finals. Heyl also took his game across the pond and showed the Brits that an American could compete in the wind, rain and gorse. After playing his way to first-alternate status for the British Open in 1979, he returned to the British Isles in 1982 and 1983 to play in the British Amateur.

Heyl turned to writing in the early 1980s. He teamed with some of the best golf teachers at the time, including short game-putting guru Dave Pelz, in writing several instructional books, the best seller being Systems Approach To Golfing, a publication for players who want to improve but have limited practice time.

It remains available as a 150-page hardback ($22.95) and compact disc ($14.50). It can be purchased through Apple in Howard either by calling him at (740) 397-6165 or by E-mail at gapple3@roadrunner.com.

Apple's game is still very much in order. Living at the Apple Valley Resort Village outside Mt. Vernon, Apple plays any number of senior events including the Hall of Fame event at Plum Brook where last year he made a stout second-day run at winning that prestigious title.

That is not the case with Heyl, who suffered a stroke in 1998.

Heyl talked about his effort to try and regain his old form.

"My physical problems started when I had vertebrae replacement surgery in 1994," he said. "It took 18 months for me to get back to the practice area. I thought I could surely get my game back in competitive order even though I was now in my 50s. And I did get down to the mid-70s after the surgery but after the stroke, it just did not happen."

Heyl jokes about his one last try at hitting the golf ball.

"Man, that was an expensive practice session," he said. "I was so sure I could get my game back in order that I joined a private club, paying for the entire year up front. The half-a-bucket of balls practice session did not go well at all. When I could not get the ball air-born, I knew my golfing days were over."

It does not stop him from teaching the game, however. He does so on the Loudon Virginia Campus of Northern Virginia Community College. Heyl talks frequently with Apple, his college teammate, but Pelz has moved out of the Virginia area to Florida and has bumped his personal four-day, short game-putting instructional fee to $3,500 and that does not include travel expenses.

We also wrote...

Systems Approach to Golfing. The Systems Approach to Golfing is for golfers who love golf and have a burning desire to improve their game, but have limited practice time.

Concepts include both the physical and mental aspects of golfing.