By Alan Prescott
April 19, 2021
Excerpts from the previous articles and links:
In my last article, Part 4 in this series, John met Joseph Sirico, the head golf professional at the Woodcrest Club in Syosset, New York. He managed to graduate from “The Evening School of Golf”. His next step in his journey was to graduate from college. At that point, golf was not his primary focus. Just getting through college was his first priority. This time, John spent 2 1/2 years studying, even during the summer. It was a struggle, but after that time, he left the State University of Oswego, in Oswego, New York just 3 credits (1 course) short of his 4-year degree in Psychology. During the spring of 1973, John finished his degree as a visiting student at C.W. Post College in Greenvale, New York. When his degree was done, and his course results were transmitted to Oswego, John’s college degree was in hand.
The rest of 1973 was spent as the assistant golf professional at the Waccabuc Country Club in Waccabuc, New York, a small but affluent town in Westchester County, New York, some 20 miles due west of Greenwich, Connecticut. It was short-lived, though and John left for Red Bank, New Jersey. It was the middle of October, getting colder by the day as winter approached, with its frigidly cool mornings and its cold nights. Caddying was a struggle. John had worked very briefly with his father Ken at Ken’s shoe store. When his father, who controlled John’s low pay teased him about not being able to buy an alpaca sweater and flashing his roll of cash in front of John, that was the end of their relationship, except for an occasional and very brief phone call. John packed his clothing and golf clubs and headed for Red Bank, New Jersey to caddy at Red Bank Country Club.
However, winter was fast approaching. The money that John earned caddying for an old Italian golf club member, along with a $50.00 tip when his member won (100% of the time), wasn’t enough. An extra $25.00 was his for helping him with his swing as well as advising the club member exactly what club to hit and how to use the club correctly, wasn’t enough money to get him a room at a rooming house, or enough food. John was sleeping in his car, a 1973 Mercury Cougar that his father had purchased for him after his college diploma was in hand. If you know anything about that model year, the Cougar had a tall center console, making it very difficult and painful to sleep through the night. A day’s meal consisted of a large bag of potato chips and a large bottle of soda to wash down the chips. An occasional ham and cheese sandwich was given to him at the end of a golf match by the club member.
It took 7 nights of sleeping in his car for John to accumulate enough money to rent a room in a house in Red Bank that was the recipient of recently discharged patients from a mental hospital in Freehold, New Jersey, a short distance from Red Bank, New Jersey. Winter was coming and John had no other available cash other than the caddying fees that he received only 3 or 4 days per week. John found a job as a security guard at the Builders Square store. It was an outside job, at night, in the freezing cold weather. He would make the long drive to his night job after filling up his tank with gas at the local Shell gas station and use the car’s warmth to avoid the cold night temperatures. However, the cost of the evening was one full tank of gas, a small expense to many, but it used up a significant part of John’s nighttime earnings.
What happened next to John was a second turning point in his golf journey. It was unchartered territory. To this credit, John had graduated from the “Evening School of Golf”, under the tutelage of PGA Golf Professional, Joseph Sirico. From his training, John was able to navigate through the choppy waters of his adopted life in the business of golf.
In my next article, John meets the challenges of yet another aspect of the golf business. It was there that John met and came to understand the importance and the place of the PGA Golf Club Professional, one of the pillars in the Business of Golf.
As a side note, I have just returned from a visit to the Fernandina Municipal Golf Course. Further comments on my trip will appear in the future.
I am Alan Prescott and I am here for you and can be reached for your comments at [email protected]
Please be safe and stay healthy.