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SALVATION AND THE ART OF GOLF

A painful accident led Brian Kroen to sobriety and an unusual craft.

Brian Kroen needed to help himself first.

"Something real tragic happened in my life and it turned my life around," Kroen, a Hudson resident, said. "I got into a real bad accident, and I made a mistake in my life. This is what God is using me for."

Nine months ago, Kroen, 41, was in a car accident, which wasn't helped by alcohol. Many sober days later, he's a recovering alcoholic, and not only helping homeless people in town, but designing and creating decorative golf art for the home and office.

"I'm just trying to give back to the public, because after the accident, that's what started it all," Kroen said. "Believe it or not, God gave me all these ideas and that's why I make them."

Kroen says he can research an antique club, study it, then make it from scratch. He'll find the bamboo from his sister's place, cut the center of it out, then go to a thrift shop to find the antique heads for the authentic look.

He'll either use the club to stick on a board to make a hat rack, or he'll take a picture of a hole, say, a certain one that the customer did particular well on - a hole in one, an eagle, what have you - and build a frame from scratch, attaching the club to it.

"The main purpose is to remind you about your golf, about what you love to do," Kroen said. "They are personalized. I can make anything the person or golfer wants and when I can make any club, and do it, I can floor them - just floor them when they first see it."

A lot of the times, the materials he gets for both the clubs and frames, he finds. He'll go Dumpster diving, or find it on the side of the road, or even take the wood from broken pallets at the delivery entrances at stores.

Kroen has yet to unveil his artwork to the public, still trying to make his face familiar at local courses. He's been having to show and explain to golfers and course managers alike just what he does.

However, part of what he does is give back. The accident was a wake-up call to change, and his golf art was a major step in the 12 he needed to take.

"What the mind does, when something tragic happens, the mind takes over and it tries to survive," Kroen said. "I was so scared that I went into survival mode - my mind did. I got all these ideas. It eventually became a part of my recovery process.

"This keeps me focused and I made a promise to God that I wouldn't have a drink again. I go from project to project to project to keep my mind focused - occupied so I can keep that promise and since I can keep with golf and putting these together, that's what I'm going to do."

Community Sports Editor Mike Camunas can be reached at mcamunas@sptimes.com or (352) 544-1771.

FAST FACTS

Brian Kroen

This 41-year-old, longtime Hudson resident makes art that generally involves golf, basically from scratch.

To contact Kroen about his art, e-mail him at mkroen3594@aol.com.

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