FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

The business of golf: A memorable PGA Professional

By Alan Prescott
September 8, 2021

Larry Laoretti Photo courtesy of USGA

Several articles prior, I discussed the life of a PGA Club Professional. Please allow me to refresh certain aspects of the life and development of the skills of a PGA Golf Professional. Following this brief discussion, I will proudly relate the story of the struggles of an outstanding one, who made it big for any number of legitimate reasons.

Your drive up to your favorite golf course and soon, you notice a sign outside of the door to the pro shop announcing the name of the resident PGA Golf Professional at that facility. You may even wonder how that individual earned that title. In fact, not many golfers care to ask the golf professional just how he/she became a PGA Golf Professional or the journey or career path to earn that title. It is a sad fact that many golfers want to pay for a bag of tees, a greens fee, a cart, or a bag of range balls while bypassing even the briefest discussion of the life and background of the resident golf professional. In the current “rules of engagement” of personal interactions, those who provide services to the public are frequently over by the people whom they have spent many years learning how to serve to allow them to enjoy the game of golf.

This “disease of impersonality” has spread in most professions and can be said to have begun long before the pandemic that began in late 2019. In this article, you will read about a man, Larry Laoretti, a PGA Golf Professional, a golf instructor, a tournament player, a Senior PGA Tour Professional, who won the Senior PGA Open in 1992, and who personified and accomplished the ultimate after paying his dues like no other golf professional that I have known in nearly 6 decades in and around the golf business.

I met Larry shortly after I graduated high school in the summer of 1966. He was the teaching professional at, if my memory serves me correctly, the Pine Hollow Country Club in East Norwich on Long Island. Larry would teach golf lessons from morning until late afternoon. While, at that time, I was ineligible to play in the weekly Monday PGA Section events, I read the results the next month in the Metropolitan New York PGA Section Newsletter. It seemed to me that Larry was almost always playing in the weekly events and frequently winning a cash prize. What I noticed most about Larry was his work ethic, his integrity, his dedication to the golfers that he taught, and his desire to be the best player that he could be.

However, being the best player that he could be required time off from his teaching duties, something that requires financial backing or the money to support yourself for at least during the time that you develop your game to level to compete at the highest level. While a teaching golf professional, you look at many errant swings each day. After standing on your feet for, let’s say 6-10 hours, it is only a very special individual who can go out and play his home golf course and shoot a low-scoring round. The secret seems to begin with the ability to look at those errant swings and not make them part of your game. Trust me, it’s very difficult to do!!

After decades of teaching, Larry made the decision to take 6 months off to hone his game. He was able to play in more golf events and scrape out a meager living. He won quite a few events before he joined the Senior Tour. However, the money wasn’t enough to support to support his expenses on the Senior PGA Tour. With the last $110.00 in change from his “money jar” at his home in a travel trailer, Larry entered the PGA Senior Open in 1992, which he won. With his victory in this prestigious event, Larry was sought out by several significant sponsors, including a cigar supplier. His rags to riches story is something that very few professional golfers realize in their entire golf career.

Upon repeated reflection, I am one of the privileged few golf professionals who has known Larry Laoretti. The fondest memory that I have is that first meeting with him. He seemed like a really nice guy, who was willing to share his golf knowledge to those who wanted to develop their golf skills. More so than that, at his advanced age of 81, I hope to be able to travel to his Florida home to get to reminisce about our experiences. As compared to today’s prima-donna touring golf professionals, Larry Laoretti stands above. Even after all of his successes, he could be found enjoying a glass of wine and a good cigar outside of his motor home in the evening, which was parked in a local KOA for the night. His family and his golf game allowed him to be one of golf’s great success story.

In my next article, it’s time to conduct a reader survey about the past and current touring golf professionals. It’s how you perceive the differences between golf’s heroes of the past versus those who have played the tour since 1997. It’s more than just this author’s perspective. It’s a discussion that involves you, the readers of the Fernandina Observer.

As always, my name is Alan Prescott. I can be reached at [email protected] As always, please be safe and stay healthy.

Editor’s Note: Alan Prescott reached out to us after reading a recent article on the Fernandina Beach Golf Course. His articles are being well received by golfers and non-golfers. We thank Alan for his contribution to the Fernandina Observer.

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