I’ve had the privilege of writing a monthly column in this industry for many years. Every December I like to focus on someone, or something, that has to with this season of goodwill.
But this year my search for a subject was at a standstill … until I received a press release about Mike Fabrizio, the director of grounds and golf maintenance at the Daniel Island Club in Charleston, South Carolina, who recently received the Distinguished Service Award from the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association. As I read the press release, this quote from Fabrizio stopped me in my tracks: “One thing that has really helped me is realizing that my station in life is to serve — whether it’s my maker, my members, my boss or my co-workers. So when I consider that service is what I want to do, that makes receiving this award all the more humbling.”
After reading Fabrizio’s quote, I knew I found my topic. I contacted Fabrizio and asked him to elaborate on his call to serve. Our conversation left me humbled.
The 56-year-old Fabrizio has been through some tribulations in his life and career that would’ve left a lot of people bitter and jaded. Fabrizio, however, learned how to become a better person after experiencing those setbacks.
Harken back to September 1989, the year Hurricane Hugo ravaged the Southeast, Pin High Editor’s view including Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina, where Fabrizio was superintendent at the time. Not only was his place of work damaged by the storm, but he also lost some personal possessions. Fabrizio was distraught, not knowing exactly how to begin rebuilding his life.
About two weeks later, Fabrizio was driving around the island when he saw something that stunned him — an elderly couple scavenging around the concrete foundation their home had stood on, looking for any possessions they could salvage.
“I’d lost some things, but this couple lost everything,” Fabrizio said. “Seeing that gave me some perspective.”
There were other lowlights after Hugo, including a failed marriage, a lost job, and the tragic death of a close family member. They were humbling occurrences, but Fabrizio sought to gain perspective from them as well.
Just as humbling, though, were finding the new job at Daniel Island a month after being let go, getting remarried, and having a daughter he’s extremely proud of. These highlights were humbling, because Fabrizio didn’t take them for granted, having felt the sting of the lowlights.
All of these life experiences made Fabrizio want to become a better person, which has translated into serving and helping others.
Among other things, Fabrizio has volunteered for the Knights of Columbus, an organization that assists the sick, disabled and needy; and the Patriot Guard Riders, whose members attend the funerals of U.S. military personnel, firefighters and police.
Fabrizio’s service also tends to golfers, even the ones who don’t repair divots and ball marks and complain about green speeds.
“Part of my job is to make sure golfers have a pleasant experience and feel a little special during those hours they’re escaping and taking a break from their ‘life’ while on the golf course,” he said.
Let Fabrizio’s message hit home in this season of giving — and beyond.