New Hampshire

Golf Unites Manchester Police Officer and Man He Repeatedly Arrested

A New Hampshire man arrested more than a dozen times in recent years is turning his life around, in part, thanks to a police officer who challenged him to sober game of golf.

As it turns out, both men made good on their handshake.

Wednesday wasn't the first time Mark Yphantis had been to the Manchester Police Department, but it may have been his first time through the front door.

That's because Yphantis spent decades being brought in the back, in handcuffs, arrested for everything from drunk and disorderly conduct to second-degree assault.

"I'd wake up in the morning, like, 'Alright, what did I do yesterday,'" Yphantis said. "I wouldn't go back to that for nothing."

Today, life is different, in large part because of Manchester Police Officer Justin Maguire.

"I've arrested Mark a bunch of times," Maguire said.

"Give or take four," Yphantis replied.

During one of their meetings, they realized they shared the same passion.

"He came over, he said, 'Let me see your golf swing,'" Yphantis recalled.

"Yeah, you hit it with a cane," Maguire said.

The two men love playing golf, but addiction kept one of them from enjoying it.

"Absolutely, getting in trouble and in and out of jail," Yphantis said.

So Maguire challenged Yphantis to stop drinking, and he'd buy them a round of golf.

"When you have nothing, you have to have something to look forward to," Maguire said. "Sometimes, someone just needs a chance."

"I promised him that I would get sober and we would play," Yphantis said.

Yphantis went to rehab in January. Next week, it will be four months without alcohol.

"I've never gone four months in my life," he said.

Maguire held up his end of the deal -- and more.

He got a set of clubs donated from Golf and Ski Warehouse and a gift certificate for 10 rounds of golf from Derryfield Country Club.

"I was just, like, blown away," Yphantis said. "I couldn't even believe it."

Yphantis, who never had much to be proud of, now has quite the tale.

"I commend him. He did all the work, it's all him," Maguire said.

The unlikely pair now hope their story is a reminder that we're all human, and that kindness is our most powerful weapon.

"That's the way I was raised, to treat people fairly," Maguire said.

"At that point in my life, what he did for me, it gave me a chance, it gave me wings to fly again," Yphantis said. "I realize that and I cherish that every single day."

Maguire is giving Yphantis some time to practice, and once the weather warms up, they'll get together for their first game of golf.

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