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Life Lessons on the Links

9/16/2011 --

Ron Medalla, MBA 02, draws inspiration from his father-in-law and help from his wife, Amanda Medalla, MBA 02, to write 18 Holes with Grandpa.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—They were partners in business school and are partners in life. Now the husband and wife team of Ron (MBA '02) and Amanda (MBA '02) Medalla have partnered to publish Ron's first book, 18 Holes with Grandpa.

The book chronicles family stories and lessons learned during 15 years of Ron's golf outings with his father-in-law, John, at The Course at Yale in New Haven, Conn.

Some of those life lessons include:

Even when you are close to your objective, you need to accelerate all the way through to the finish.

Life is full of temptations and tricks. Sometimes you need to look at the opportunity from a different angle to make the right decision.

The walk through life is physical. Get in shape.

"The book has hit a chord with a lot of different segments," says Ron. "Baby boomers are starting to think about their legacy, so they draw parallels to John. The kids of those boomers are reading to get a better sense of who their dads are and what goes through their minds during so many hours on the golf course."

"Until I read it, I didn't understand how someone could play the same course that many times," Amanda says. "I had no concept of what I was missing, and I am so grateful that we'll never lose those stories."

18 Holes with Grandpa began with the luck of the draw: Ron pulled John's name for the family's Christmas gift exchange. Recognizing that a 74-year-old man doesn't need much in the way of material goods, he opted to commit to paper the stories that had long been floating around in his head.

"I had had the project in mind, but this was the perfect opportunity to get it done. It was really a way for our two young sons to get to know their grandfather," says Ron. "I don't even really feel like I wrote a book. It really wrote itself."

In one chapter, Ron recalls playing in a weekend tournament with John while he still was dating Amanda. Late in the day, with a possible victory on the line, it was up to Ron to sink a crucial putt. "John said to me, 'Make that putt if you want to marry my daughter.'" He did, and the Medallas now have been married for 13 years. John has since adapted the line to, "Make that putt if you want any inheritance."

After receiving encouragement from friends and associates who read the piece, the Medallas were convinced to publish it. But they wanted to publish it for a purpose. So Amanda contacted the First Tee of Connecticut, a nonprofit committed to teaching children life skills, character development, and healthy choices through the game of golf. The authors are donating 20 percent of the book's proceeds to the charity.

"I was very surprised that we got connected to them so quickly," Amanda says, "and that they've been so supportive."

Getting the book ready for publication proved to be an interesting juggling act for Ron, a VP and branch manager for Fidelity Investments, and Amanda, a former group marketing manager who now stays home with their children. But it harks back to earlier days.

"We always tell people that we got four hours of sleep at night during our time at Michigan," Amanda says. "This was a lot like that. We'd put the kids to bed and get to work."

The process of finding the right publisher and getting the book distributed also allowed Amanda to tap into her roots in marketing strategy. She did extensive research on self-publishing, negotiated the relationship with the First Tee of Connecticut, and now is making sure the book is widely available in the community and beyond.

"The way she's been able to push this forward into something bigger is really amazing," Ron says.

"What's amazing to me," Amanda adds, "is that Ron put together something so wonderful about my dad and doesn't even take much credit for it."

The duo agrees that the subject of the book makes it a compelling read. "[My father-in-law] is direct and honest, and that's what makes these stories good. They're told on a golf course, but the lessons are applicable anywhere," Ron adds.

18 Holes with Grandpa recently was named a finalist in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Book Awards for the Inspiration category. It is available at www.authorhouse.com. For those interested in using the book as a tournament giveaway for corporate or charity golf events, please contact the Medallas at amedalla@umich.edu.



For more information, contact:
Amy Spooner, (734) 615-5068, aschulz@umich.edu