Dan Strite is retiring. But a golf pro never really retires; and the game remains with the Warrenton resident.
And if there's one line that sums up how Strite feels about golf and life, it's a quote from Walter Hagen that is etched in brass on the wall of the pro shop at The Highlands Golf Course at Gearhart: "You're only here for a short visit ... Don't hurry, don't worry, and be sure to smell the flowers along the way."
Strite says he's been participating in golf in one way or another since the 1930s, when he worked as a caddy at the Astoria Golf & Country Club. He later became an assistant pro and then a golf pro.
Strite says he enjoys golf, but was never a great player. "In fact, I wasn't ever good," he says.
"Even if you have some talent, it's hard to be a good player and a worker at the same time."
Strite says he has been fortunate. He says it's difficult to make a living teaching golf lessons. Anyone intending to do so would have to give an awful lot of lessons to make house payments.
After having spent years working at other golf courses, Strite bought Highlands in 1990. He quickly realized he was going to have a tough time making a living.
"If you're willing to operate on a smaller margin, you can compete for customers," he says.
To make ends meet, he started an Internet business selling golf products. "I figured I could compete with Portland and Seattle, and I have," he says.
He has had more than 30,000 unique clients.
And now he is selling his businesses.
He says he and Melody, his wife of 16 years, are looking forward to their next adventure. In one of his front pockets, he carries notes on a lot of different subjects and activities he wants to accomplish. But he's unwilling to divulge what the future will hold for him.
Except for three things, coaching golf (and life) with students, become involved in volunteer work and spending time with Melody and his grandchildren.
"I intend to make myself available to local high school teams," Strite says.
Strite says he already spends time helping with golfers at Seaside High School.
He has actively promoted the Chick Evans Scholarship Program, which awards four-year scholarships to people who have caddied and can show a need for the money.
"It goes by what kind of person you are, not by ability," Strite says.
A recipient of the scholarship, Kevin Irish, who is one year out of college, works at Highlands.
Strite says people whom he's helped to receive the scholarship have gone on to all walks of life. One of his scholars from the '50s became a doctor and eventually retired, and another is doing missionary work in China.
"If you can make a difference to somebody, that's something you should do," he says.
Strite's done some volunteer work in the past, and would like to do it again. At a recent golf event, a woman who was the head nurse at a Seaside nursing home brought Strite a photo from 1978, showing him helping Santa bring joy to residents. That's something he says he always enjoyed doing.
And above all, he says he wants to take some time to spend with Melody.
"She's been very patient. I owe her what I can pay her back for her patience," he says. "When you own a business, it's not uncommon to work seven days a week and sometimes 17 to 18 hours a day."
"I've got a lot of great ideas," Strite says. "I'm only 76, so I've got some time left."