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Going the extra mile: Biker hopes to inspire youth through golf

Tom Loegering, 80, rides his motorcycle across the United States to help young golfers through his organization, Golf Programs in School. (Photo by Matthew Lively/Cronkite News)

SUN CITY, Ariz. — If you find a man napping on a picnic table at a rest stop in the middle of the United States, you’ve probably just encountered 80-year-old Tom Loegering.

He’ll be wearing a motorcycle helmet and suit. The picnic table is just one of his many “beds” on a trip through the 48 contiguous states, Western Canada and Alaska in under 20 days.

Loegering, the founder and CEO of Golf Program in Schools, is believed to be the only person to ever complete the daunting trip and he’s done it at age 73 and 80, according to the Iron Butt Association, an organization dedicated to endurance motorcycle riding. He keeps a receipt from every state as proof he rode through it and then heads for the border and onto the next.

Although many would find the feat is impressive in itself, Loegering is actually more proud of something else.

“My claim to fame is never receiving a ticket,” he said. “I’m not a speeder. I’m just a steady rider.”

Loegering has been riding a motorcycle since he was 23 years old. He’s driven through Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean, and has tallied up almost 800,000 miles on his BMW bikes. It’s clear he likes to ride, but he also does it for a cause.

He is the founder of GPS and the CEO of Sun City Country Club. A business opportunity jump-started from a round of golf made him realize that the game is similar to life, a sentiment he is hoping to teach youth. His goal is to raise money based on the miles he rides for GPS, an organization he believes can make a difference in young lives.

“You step up to the first tee, you go through your pre-shot routine, you have a plan, you execute your plan and then you go find your ball, wherever it may be,” he said. “You plan, analyze, adjust, plan and execute. That’s what life is. You’re practicing how you’re going to do things in life.”

Loegering visits schools in nine local school districts. He and his team teach the basics in gym classes at the schools. Kids who are interested can then volunteer to take a field trip to Sun City Country Club to learn more advanced skills like chipping, driving and putting.

Loegering believes he has instructed more than 16,000 kids in three years. He started GPS because he feels as if there is no real entry point for kids to enter golf.

“Who tells kids that their job in life is to raise their skill level to equal their talent level?” Loegering asked. “Anyone can play golf.”

Loegering said that high school coaches used to need more golfers on their team. Now, they’re having to hold tryouts because the skill level of players has gotten much better.

When students complete the GPS program they’re given a junior membership at Sun City Country Club, which allows for free golf in the summer as long as they’re accompanied by a paying adult.

Loegering clearly doesn’t shy away from big goals. He has, after all, driven his motorcycle around the world. But when it comes to golf and GPS, Director of the GPS Golf Academy Scott Rutter was impressed, to say the least.

“I was thoroughly impressed by his effort,” Rutter said. “He gives everything of himself to this program. When Tom told me about his idea, I was blown away by his enthusiasm and energy, especially at his age.”

Age certainly won’t stop Loegering. He plans on living past 100. The ultimate goal for GPS is to put a golf club in every child’s hand in Arizona in the next five years. A goal that is lofty, but also timely.

If he completes his goal, it’ll be just in time for him to cruise through all 48 states again, at age 85.

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