Shop last minute, and local, this Christmas

Fred McCormick

A lot of us don’t get all of our Christmas shopping done early. I, for example, haven’t done any of it as I’m writing this column on Dec. 9.

In this age of technology we have the ability, in no more than four taps of a smartphone screen, to have gifts shipped straight to our doors. But this year there is a hyper-local gift option for us last-minute shoppers.

Fred McCormick

“Golf Is My Life: Glorifying God Through the Game” is a book written by Jon Decker, who grew up in Black Mountain cultivating his passion for the sport he loves and would ultimately build a career in.

Jon Decker will be signing copies of his book in the auditorium at Owen High School on Thursday, Nov. 10. The event will include guest speakers Bill Burrows and Brad Johnson.

Two Barnes & Nobles in Asheville (Asheville Mall and Biltmore Park Town Square) are carrying the book, which retails in paperback for $18.95 (hardcover for $29.95). But you can pick up a copy right down the street at Town Hardware and General Store.

The book itself is a look at the author’s journey through life and how Decker has seen God’s plan for him play out through his own eyes.

Decker recalls his family moving from Bryson City to the Swannanoa Valley when he was a child, and how the sign advertising the town's golf course - "Welcome to Black Mountain, North Carolina, Home of the World’s Longest Hole” - was a sign in more ways than one.

As a child who loved the game and was nervous about moving to a place he was wholly unfamiliar with, Decker said “God sent me a sign that comforted my heart.”

Much of “Golf Is My Life” unfolds in Black Mountain, where Decker would spend years dedicating himself to his goal of becoming a PGA Tour golfer. Although Decker found God’s plan and his plan were not the same (he went on to have a career as a teacher of the game), the journey is something he remembers fondly.

He revisits his time playing for the Owen High School golf team that, from 1983-85, “rewrote the record books for golf” at the school. Decker recalls playing in front of North Carolina Tarheels head coach and former Owen basketball and golf coach Roy Williams in the 1984 state tournament in Chapel Hill.

In the same chapter in which Decker recounts his career as a Warhorses golfer, he remembers his senior season in 1985 when his mom coached the team after the retirement of Ralph Singleton.

“In the end I learned that a mother can coach her sons, lead by example and inspire a group of young men...,” Decker writes. “Thank you Coach Mom. I love you!”

Each chapter in the book is preceded by a foreword, many written by names recognizable in the Swannanoa Valley.

Longtime Owen football coach Kenny Ford wrote the foreword for the “Coach Mom” chapter. His former player, Super Bowl champion quarterback Brad Johnson, wrote one, as did ESPN analyst and former Warhorse player Brad Daugherty, who led the team to a state championship appearance when Decker was a freshman at the school.

The book tells an engaging tale of Decker’s odyssey, but it also does a remarkable job of transporting the reader to the Black Mountain of over three decades ago.

The nostalgic lens through which “Golf Is My Life” looks back at Decker’s childhood in Black Mountain makes it a great gift for locals. The spiritual theme in the book gives it an even broader appeal.

Because the book is available on Amazon, you could pick it up in just a few taps of an app. But it won't be like going into a local store and buying a book by a local author largely set right here in the Valley.