High school golf coach opens training facility
Rich Flores had a glowing smile, the kind reserved for the proverbial kid in a candy shop.
But Flores, who five years ago was in a fight for his life, is smiling a lot more these days because he has settled back quite nicely into his life's work as a golf coach and instructor.
The former Batavia High School golf coach now has a big "candy shop" to work in -- an indoor golf training and course simulator facility called Studio 59 at the Campana Building in Batavia.
Flores and his partner on this project, longtime friend David Impastato, the PGA professional instructor and golf director at Cog Hill in Lemont, will host an open house from 1 to 6 p.m. today at Studio 59.
Studio 59 sounds like a nightclub, but this golf-training center's name "represents the ultimate golf score," Flores said.
The fact Flores is even swinging a golf club and helping others improve their game is uplifting in and of itself, considering he was dealing with an array of treatments and a bone-marrow transplant in 2011 to counter primary amyloidosis, a rare disease affecting his heart, and further complicated by a plasma cell cancer.
He continues to undergo periodic chemotherapy treatments, but he's off the kidney dialysis that wiped him out for days at a time.
Flores credits Impastato with the idea for the golf facility, which is on the second floor of the Campana building on Batavia Avenue, near Fabyan Parkway.
"He's really the financial power behind this, and he asked me to go in on it with him," Flores said. "He's the leader and I'm following, but I have the student contacts and the time to do this. Plus, I'm feeling a lot better now."
For his part, Flores was relatively content giving lessons at Mill Creek Golf Course in Geneva during the summer and at his own indoor setup in a garage at his Batavia home, where he has taught for almost 20 years. He'll continue to give outdoor lessons at Mill Creek.
"I wasn't really looking to do something like this," Flores said of Studio 59. "But Dave contacted me and said we should open a place together."
Studio 59 has seven hitting bays; two golf course simulators for virtual play of Pebble Beach and other courses; a large putting green; instruction areas; a Science and Motion putting lab; distance monitors and other tools of the trade.
It won't be a fancy arrangement with Campana in terms of a lot of outdoor advertising and such, but Flores is counting on word-of-mouth.
"Our friends and students will spread the word," he said.
When a retailer closes and leaves a building empty, we sometimes forget about another key ramification. What happens to the property around that empty site?
The answer is usually "it goes downhill at a fast clip."
As such, it will be tough to see the Sports Authority store on Randall Road in Geneva become an empty shell. It's possible someone else could take care of the property, but the way it's been explained to me in the past is that each retailer along Randall is responsible for its surrounding property. So this is a retailer that really took care of its lawn, trees and bushes.
It's market season:
The French Market in the Metra parking lot in Geneva had wonderful weather last Sunday for its season debut. I celebrated this sign of spring by purchasing two chocolate brownies at the Hahn's Bakery table. I'll go for fresh vegetables and such some other time.
Combined, the two brownies were nearly the size of my head -- and delicious. You can't go wrong with that combination.
More on Randall Road:
It appears the past column items about Randall Road triggered a lot of interest, so much so that Dave Frasz of the county transportation department offered to help reader Michael Magiera find more information about the road's past.
Magiera recently shared his findings in this column about Randall's various configurations from 60 to 70 years ago, and it convinced him to keep looking for maps and other documents to see how this important county road was pieced together over time.
He talked to Frasz, who pointed him toward proper department of transportation and historic preservation contacts, and he's promised to keep us posted as to what his research turns up.
Remembers the road:
Reader David Frye enjoyed the look back at Randall Road as well, saying he remembers the street running from Aurora to about where Keslinger Road is now in the late 1950s.
"Then it picked up again at Alternate Route 30, which is now Prairie Street, and ran into Route 64," Frye said. "At that time, Alternate Route 30 went west from Geneva and made a couple of curves and ended up on Prairie."
Randall then went from Dean Street in St. Charles North to Elgin. To get on Randall north of Main Street, drivers had to take 12th Street to Dean and then hop back on Randall, Frye said.
In an interesting twist, Frye said while doing some research for a class reunion, he noticed a newspaper clipping in which transportation officials were saying they hoped Randall Road would be four lanes from Aurora to Elgin by the summer of 1957.
"If my memory serves me right, it was finally four lanes by about 1994," he said.