‘It’s a great day for golf!’
Stepping off the ice and onto the green
e live in a state where
the words “hockey” and
We know about the NCAA na-
tional championships, the Olympic
medals and “The Miracle on Ice.”
Those stories have all been told.
While inspiring and moving, they
don’t often delve into life off the
ice. Most of them fail to mention
how closely Mark Johnson has fol-
lowed in his father’s footsteps
when it comes to the importance
of family – and finding the bal-
ance and peace that makes life
and coaching more enjoyable.
Like his father before him, Mark
Johnson enjoys the peacefulness
of a golf course on a quiet, sunny
afternoon – total serenity and
temporary removal from the
outside world. In fact, it was his
father who taught him the game.
He recalls the days of growing up
on the west side of Madison,
spending time at Odana Hills GC
with his dad.
“My friends and I played a lot
of baseball and golf with my
dad,” he said. “We’d find balls in
the water and try to sell them.”
A left-handed hockey player,
Johnson learned to play golf with
“That’s all we had,” he said.
But it didn’t take the natural-born athlete long to feel comfortable playing.
“[Golf] sort of goes hand in
hand with hockey,” Johnson said.
“My strength in golf is probably
what helped me in hockey – hand-eye coordination and the ability to
PHOTO COURTESY OF UW-MADISON ATHLETICS
move on the ball. (But) being a
hockey player, you want to hit it
like a puck.”
One of the most common things
you’ll hear from a casual golfer is,
“I don’t get out as much as I’d like.”
That definitely rings true for
Johnson, who manages to keep
his handicap near 8 at Hawks
Landing GC in Verona.
“With a wife (Leslie), five kids
(Doug, Chris, Patrick, Mikayla and
Megan) and my job, that can be
tough to balance,” said Johnson.
“But I had a dad that did both.
You know, you just have to keep
your priorities in line. On most
days, I’m able to do that.”
Although family and coaching
come first, they don’t diminish his
appreciation and love for golf.