Tretter: Golf has opportunity for life lessons

Courtesy photo
Chris Tretter is part-owner and general manager at Sultan’s Run Golf Club in Jasper. Golf affords students of the game “opportunities to learn valuable lessons, whether you’re playing nine or 18 holes,” he says.


FERDINAND — Chris Tretter found his calling through golf. He’s experienced other sports in his younger days, but none have given him purpose quite like the game of kings. Sure, it offers activity, competition and even business pursuits, but golf also fills a deeper desire that lies at Tretter’s foundation. For him, the game of golf is his greatest tool for mentoring young people, a cause that’s very dear to his heart.

“I absolutely love kids,” he said. “Just knowing that parents trust me with their kids, I hope that’s an indication I’m a good role model for the kids. I asked for the opportunity, the doors were opened and it was all a part of the plan to afford me the opportunity to do what I’m doing. I don’t even know if I can put into words what I get out of the opportunity [to mentor].”

Tretter first picked up golf in his late 20s, and encountered a man named Lowery McGowan along the way. McGowan worked with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and talked with Tretter about how sports are an excellent way to connect with kids and teach them life lessons. The conversation flipped a switch in Tretter’s mind, and he went about taking his game more seriously to prepare himself as a coach.

“I was at a point in my life where I was looking back on my experiences as a young kid in high school,” he said. “I’m glad I was able to have those mentors and role models I was able to lean on. I kept praying, thinking and drawing up plans to get into (coaching), and the doors to the game of golf opened.”

The door for Tretter opened in 2012 when the Forest Park boys golf coaching job became available. Shortly after that, Tretter and other key members of the local golf community worked with the Indiana Golf Office to bring the First Tee program to Dubois County, which aims to develop youth with the values of golf. Both of those avenues provided Tretter with the means and opportunity to fulfill his passion.

“There is nothing more rewarding in terms of where I’m focusing my efforts,” he said. “It is so rewarding to see the success moment, and it’s painful to see the mistakes that happen along the way. But that’s all a part of learning and developing character. That will benefit these young people tremendously as they continue on in their lives.”

Tretter is a firm proponent of the unique character development aspects that come with golf. He notes that there is no one else out on the course when his golfers go to take their shot, and they have to be fully present in the brief window they have to check course conditions, wind and other factors as they tee off. Golf also combines values like honesty, integrity and respect with positive physical, mental and social habits to give the players tools they can use in every facet of their lives.

“Being able to overcome adversity becomes a very big life lesson,” Tretter said. “If you hit a bad shot, there’s an opportunity for you to clear your head, and hopefully, that’s what you do. But it can also be an opportunity to let things unravel very quickly. There are opportunities to learn valuable lessons, whether you’re playing nine or 18 holes.”

As one can imagine, it’s been tough on Tretter not being able to coach the Rangers since schools were closed for the year in March because of the coronavirus. Tretter is grateful the weather has allowed him and his three kids to play a few rounds periodically, but he tremendously misses being out and working with his team.

“It’s been stressful,” he said. “My heart goes out to every senior. They’ve missed a big part of their school life, and that’s hard to see.”

That being said, golf has come up with other ways to keep Tretter occupied. Tretter became interested in branching into golf entertainment and facility ownership through the years, and he started talking with several local courses to get his foot in the door. Once again, the game provided an opportunity in 2019.

“I got an email from (Sultan’s Run owner) Steve Braun,” Tretter said. “He asked me if we could have a conversation. We talked for about an hour and a half. Toward the end of the conversation he said, ‘I have something I want you to think about. How would you like to join the team over at Sultan’s Run?’”

Tretter accepted and became a part-owner and general manager at the Jasper golf course. It keeps him busy six days a week, but Tretter is enjoying the chance to fulfill another golf goal and learn as much as he can. He even has ideas regarding how he and the other owners would like to grow the course’s offerings.

“We want to turn this into a resort,” Tretter said. “We’ve been exploring plans to build either cottages or a hotel, restaurants and golf entertainment. There’s a lot of extra opportunity this course brings given its high-quality nature.”

Tretter seems to have his hands full for the foreseeable future between coaching and ownership, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. He sees all that he’s able to do as blessings provided by golf. But Tretter’s drive to help mentor and develop kids will always be at the heart of whatever he does.

“What’s been driving what I’ve done is a passion for youth,” he said. “I would’ve seen myself doing one of a couple of different things. But it definitely would have been focused on youth, and being a good role model and mentor.”

More on