The business of golf – ” . . . when your golf game is good, your business is bad”

By Alan Prescott
April 7, 2021

Excerpt from the previous articles and links:

“The business of golf – It takes a village”

The business of golf – ” . . . another professional . . . came from Brooklyn.  His name was Wiffey Cox”

“In my last two articles, 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).”

It wasn’t that John had a revelation or a sudden enlightenment. It was his consistently positive experiences that led him to the one person who changed his perspective about golf. At the age of 13, his father drove him to the golf club where he was a member. Ken has also purchased a junior membership so that he and John could play golf in the afternoon after 1:00pm, when juniors were allowed to play on weekends. In the morning on both Saturday and Sunday, John would caddy 2 rounds to make money. His father would match any amount that John made, as long as John would bank the money that he had earned caddying.

However, John’s interest in the golf business outgrew his father’s desire to see him go into the business world and use his golfing abilities to develop business. For the most part, John saw his father was only  able to play on weekends, the only exception was an occasional weekday afternoon when he was able to take off a few hours from his shoe business on 7th Avenue in New York City. Ken also spoke to him about having a career. The constant reinforcement involved two statements. First, “When you’re out of money, you’re out of options”. Secondly, “When your business is good, your golf game is bad and when your golf game is good, your business is bad”. What Ken didn’t realize was that John wanted to be in the golf business and had already decided that his golf game could be good if he was in the golf business. This lead to a sudden break in their relationship.

John had access to a car that his father purchased for him to use. There were rules for car usage. When Ken, try as much as he did, was unable to coax his son into thinking about his career as he did, all car privileges were taken away from John. At that time, John would get up early in the morning and hitchhike the 14.5 miles to the Woodcrest Country Club on Muttontown Road in Syosset, New York. John would caddy all day and then hitchhike back the 14.5 miles to his home. A short time later, the head professional gave John privileges to occupy a room in the servant’s quarters on the second floor. The first floor was the bag room where John worked during the day. The building had no air conditioning and the summer was particularly hot that year. When the head professional noticed that John would walk the 4 miles back to the highway to get an ice cream and a bag of potato chips for dinner, he made arrangements for John to eat lunch and dinner in the employees’ dining area, a small, unairconditioned room that was 25 stair steps below the main floor of the clubhouse. It was a dungeon for sure, but, the leftovers were tasty and plentiful.

John’s workday consisted of taking the members’ golf club sets off the racks, making sure they were clean and the bag dusted off, and either putting them on a rack for the caddies to pick up or putting them on a riding cart. A scorecard and pencil was also the correct protocol and the final item to be clipped onto the cart on the driver’s side. When the carts came in after the members had played, the clubs were pulled off of the cart, properly cleaned inside of the bag room, and returned to the rack from which they came. The carts were then swept out and thoroughly cleaned out and washed before they were put back into the cart barn by the cart man. On rainy days, the golf bags were pulled off of their rack, and, since they were mostly made of leather, rubbed down with Lexol, a liquid leather treatment and then returned to their cubby on the two-tiered and numbered rack cubby.

If there was still any daylight left, the golf staff were permitted to play the golf course until dark and then clean up the cart that they had used for practice and play. The golf practice range was also an option, even after dark because it had outside lights, as long as the golf balls were picked up the same evening. However, there was much more to the job. It was the introduction to the one person who would turn John’s attention as no one else in the golf business could do up until that time, and, for that matter, to this day.

Who was this person? In my next article, you will meet this person, the single individual who framed John’s golf career more than any other person. John called it, “the Evening School of Golf.” It was the equivalent of any college degree and more.

I am Alan Prescott. I am here for your questions and comments and I can be reached at [email protected]

Stay safe and be healthy.

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