Full circle

Judd Gibb is a five-time PGA Iowa Section player of the year, a two-time teacher of the year, the state’s top instructor in 2012 according to Golf Digest, a former assistant at Iowa State and the Des Moines Golf and Country Club, an ex-PGA teaching pro at The Legacy and Sugar Creek, and an established media personality in the Des Moines area.

Starting tomorrow, Gibb’s career will be back where it all began: at the Fort Dodge Country Club.

To say hiring Gibb as the head pro is a coup for the FDCC would be an understatement. True, Gibb is a Fort Dodge native and a 1987 FDSH graduate. A return to his home course seems to be a natural fit. Having someone of Gibb’s caliber back at this stage in his career, though, creates a unique opportunity for the local golfing community.

A lot of the routines I use on the course to this day are directly from Gibb’s playbook. I spent three formidable summers in Gibb’s junior golf classes when he served as an FDCC assistant in the 1990’s. His accomplishments and accolades are well deserved.

Gibb is golf royalty in Iowa. The potential impact of his second stint as a teacher here should be emphasized immediately. Gibb offers the kind of innovation and expertise that will have area players young and old reaping the benefits.

LAST HURRAH: Creighton superstar Doug McDermott had been tagged a mid to late first-round draft prospect before announcing last month that he would return to school for his senior season.

McDermott, a former Ames High School all-stater, is a consensus All-American and national scoring leader with the Bluejays. Supporters say he has nothing left to prove in college, but critics claim he isn’t big enough or quick enough to succeed at the professional level.

In other words, McDermott has already been labeled a classic ”tweener.”

Physically speaking, I understand the hesitation. Still, I predict an NBA franchise will consider themselves fortunate when McDermott lands in their lap a year from now.

McDermott’s basketball IQ and craftsmanship make him a joy to watch. He is everything the game should be in its purest sense, and a lot of what the NBA lacks these days. McDermott may not be the second coming of Larry Bird, but he’ll be a steal after the lottery teams all pass for more raw players with supposed ”higher ceilings” in 2014.

For now, we get to appreciate McDermott one more time at the collegiate level. He’ll dominate again next season with the kind of mid-range repertoire and elusiveness on the low blocks that makes him a generational player.

His attributes and intangibles may not necessarily qualify him to be an NBA all-star someday, but don’t sell McDermott short. He’s the kind of player losing organizations desperately need. It’s a shame they’re too short-sighted to see how much McDermott can and will accomplish in the long run.

FAREWELL TO Z: Although I’ve never been a Hawkeye fan, I appreciated the level of entertainment and humanity Jim Zabel brought to the table as an ardent Iowa broadcaster for nearly five full decades.

Zabel was a true icon and a symbol of loyalty in our home state. His body of work may have been rough around the edges and subjective to say the least, but his soft spot for all things Iowa grown made him much more endearing than maddening.

Zabel never took himself too seriously, and didn’t pretend to be anything other than a man living in Hawkeye heaven on earth. What you saw was what you got.

When I was a middle schooler, I used to fall asleep listening to rebroadcasts of Iowa football games late Saturday night on WHO Radio. I would also watch ”Beat the Bear” every Sunday. Looking back, I realize now that Zabel lured me into his black and gold colored world; I didn’t share his same passion for the Hawks necessarily, but I loved sports the way he did, and I could always relate to that.

When Pete Taylor passed away a little over 10 years ago, a piece of Iowa State athletics went with him. Taylor will forever be a part of our state’s treasured sports history.

For different reasons but similar principles, the same must be said about Zabel. Another giant voice with an even bigger heart has sadly fallen silent. Hug and kiss those radios one last time in his memory.

Eric Pratt is Sports Editor at The Messenger. He may be reached afternoons and evenings at 1-800-622-6613, or by e-mail at sports@messengernews.net