Jim Nelford celebrates after making a hole in one during the Champions Tour 2007 Regions Charity Classic. Photo: Butch Dill, PGA Tour for Getty Images.
SOUTHERN PINES, NORTH CAROLINA | On an early spring afternoon when the breeze is warm and the pear trees are loaded with white blossoms, Jim Nelford sits in a cushioned chair overlooking the 18th fairway and green at the Mid Pines Inn and Club where he teaches golf.
Conjure up an image of the game at its best – the fairways are a brilliant green, the first tee is busy, and a group that has just finished playing is reliving what happened over a round of beers – and this place has it all.
Nelford fits the place. Dark blue slacks, a gray-striped pullover, sunglasses atop the bill of his cap. He looks like he could have played the PGA Tour and he did before a gruesome water-skiing accident – his right arm was caught in a spinning propeller and nearly had to be amputated – curtailed his playing career in the 1980s.
What Nelford doesn’t look like is a radical, a man who passionately beli...
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