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I never saw a man who gets more fun out of sports participation than Tim Kellog. The thing is that Tim is always improving. This would not be so surprising if he were a lean kid of 17 or 18. But Tim Kellog is 64. What is more, while he is in pretty good shape for that age, I have seen men who are in better. The answer is that Tim has hit on a ridiculously simple system for improving, a sort of Kellog Plan for Improvement that we all might follow.
I first met Tim about 20 years ago, when he would have been in his early 40s, of course. A varsity track star, he had taken up tennis after he got out of college, and he soon became good enough to win our state championship. He then kept on winning it, interminably, over nearly two decades.
But two or three years after I met him Tim got beaten in the semifinals. "I'll bet I blew at least 20 overheads that I could have creamed a few years ago!" he fumed bitterly. Tim was absolutely right; he could have. "Let's face it," he added. "I'm over the hill."
I gave no more thought to this at the time. It seemed about time for Tim to be over the tennis hill. To tell the truth, I was relieved. I had gotten a little tired of listening to him recount his successes. A couple of weeks later I ran into him at the country club and learned that he had quit playing tennis completely and was taking up golf.
"How's it going?" I asked him.
Tim made a wry face. "You just couldn't believe it," he said. "I'm incredibly putrid at golf. Yesterday I finally managed to get through 18 holes on the course for the first time. It took me practically all day. Do you know what my score was?—144! Can you imagine anything so dreadful?"
Wondering why anybody would voluntarily come out with an admission of ineptitude like that, I shook my head. Later I was to find out why.
Several weeks passed before I encountered Tim again. He seemed suspiciously happy. "You wouldn't imagine how I've improved!" he announced proudly. "I shot a 110 the other day!"
In view of the fact that Tim has natural athletic ability and puts a lot into everything he does, this did not surprise me in the least. Nor did it surprise me that within a year after taking up the game he was shooting in the middle 80s. After all, this was a familiar pattern involving two of our most popular participating sports. Thousands of tennis players have abandoned the game in favor of golf which, whatever its difficulties, is admittedly less strenuous.
Actually it was not for a couple of years or so—this meant that Tim was pushing 50—that I found out that his pattern was not the familiar one at all. We were at a party together, and I asked how his golf game was.