By John Reger
The amount of wisdom Monty Blodgett has given to the game of golf is immeasurable, a river that continuously flows, but it was knowledge that almost wasn't imparted.
Blodgett, who gave his first lesson in 1956, has always been a student of the game, but a near-death experience gave him a perspective he has been able to pass along to those who have been fortunate enough to meet the longtime golf professional.
"Monty's been a staple in golf for a long, long time," said Perry Dickey, general manager of Newport Beach Country Club where Blodgett still plays two to three times a week. "He's a real quality guy."
Blodgett, now 81 years old, has a trunkload of memories in the game. In 1948 he saw Ben Hogan win the U.S. Open at Riviera Country Club. When he was a professional in Long Beach he helped create the Queen Mary Open.
It was an event outside of golf, however, that changed his life forever.
Blodgett was a successful professional working at facilities such as El Dorado Golf Course in Long Beach and playing in local SCPGA tournaments.
"He was always a good player," said Jerry Anderson, the former general manager of Newport Beach CC who has been friends with Blodgett for more than 30 years. "He was one of the best players in Southern California."
It was about 1978 when Blodgett was given a diagnosis of inoperable cancer and not given much time to live.
"They told me I was going to die," Blodgett said. "Like they say, 'There are no atheists in the foxhole.' Well I was in the foxhole. I made a deal that if I got through this I would try and set an example for other people."
Blodgett was given chemotherapy and radiation but little hope. He came home from the hospital and didn't even have enough strength to get out of bed.
A little divine intervention and a voice from above gave Blodgett the strength to carry on and he miraculously beat back the cancer.
"When that voice that I heard said I was going to be ok, it was a pretty powerful moment," Blodgett said. "I felt an obligation to help people anyway I can. It's something I truly enjoy."
Blodgett used his gift of teaching to instruct both amateurs and professionals. As a professional at Newport Beach CC, he was one of the most popular professionals in club history. "He is phenomenal," said member Mike Lake. "He is a class act and a wonderful human being."
When he is not helping touring professionals like Esteban Toledo or Denis Watson, Blodgett can be found at the club, either playing or hitting balls.
"He shoots his age almost every time we play," Lake said. "He is still digging it out of the ground."
"I'm a real believer in perfection in the golf swing," Blodgett said. "I used to think I knew everything, but I learn something new every time I practice."
Thankfully he is sharing that knowledge with others and the game is better for it.