By Alan Prescott
April 4, 2021
Editor’s Note: This is the second article Alan has written about the Strafaci family. For those who have missed the first in the series, click here.
“In 1943, when rubber was in limited supply due to the war effort and golf balls (that were made from rubber) were in short supply, Ken lost a match on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Club in Carmel, California after losing 3 golf balls into the Pacific Ocean.”
In my last article, I mentioned the Strafaci family that was located in Brooklyn, New York. The Strafaci family was instrumental in the development of interest in golf in the metropolitan New York area and was also recognized nationally for their accomplishments in golf. (For the sake of clarity, the father’s name is Ken and his adopted son’s name is John.) Ken was a member of the Brooklyn Tech High School’s golf team (not a member of the Strafaci family).
There was another professional who came from Brooklyn. His name was Wiffey Cox and he started in Brooklyn, caddied in Westchester County just north of New York City, and developed into a successful touring golf professional. In 1943, when rubber was in limited supply due to the war effort and golf balls (that were made from rubber) were in short supply, Ken lost a match on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Club in Carmel, California after losing 3 golf balls into the Pacific Ocean. The two golfers were from the same area. Wiffey Cox’s golf career began in Brooklyn, as did Ken’s golf career. However, because of the Depression, Ken decided to help in his father’s construction business.
So Ken, later on, dedicated his golf efforts in developing the interest of his son, John, in playing golf. The Torch had passed when John turned 12. By then, they lived in the Village of Kings Point, New York, exactly one mile north of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. John carried his bag of clubs and balls to and from the Academy to practice on one of the athletic fields there. When Ken played high school golf, the golf team played Dyker Beach Golf for free. By comparison, when his son John was in high school, no matter how much the team’s parents wanted to pay for the privilege to playing golf at any local golf course, the golf clubs’ answer was always “NO”!!
Fast forward to the summer of 1966, John, who had caddied summers since age 13, got his first job by working at a golf course pro shop. It was exciting and rewarding and it lead to an assistant’s position at Worthington Country Club in Worthington, Ohio in 1969. John was a full-time student at Ohio Wesleyan University, 25 miles north of Columbus, Ohio and commuted 18 miles each day after classes to work in the pro shop. John left Ohio for Oswego, New York in 1971 and turned pro in 1972 with 1 college course left. He was a golf professional and couldn’t compete at college due to his professional status.
However, there was something else to this story. John’s father wanted him to play golf as an amateur and use his golf talents to aid in developing a business outside of golf. It was too late. John had met another mentor in golf other than his father. It was this mentor whose advice lead John to choose a career of golf. With what lay ahead, was it the right choice?
In my next article, what did that mentor say that caused John’s decision. What follows will surprise you.
As always, I am Alan Prescott and I can be reached at [email protected]
Be safe and stay healthy