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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dick McAuliffe, RIP

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        Dick McAuliffe, who died earlier this week in Farmington, CT, was a tough baseball player who had a zero tolerance policy for pitchers who threw fastballs near his head. Tommy John learned that during the 1968 season when McAuliffe charged the mound and separated John's shoulder. The shortstop was suspended for five games, all of which the Tigers lost. The pitcher missed the rest of the season. Those who weren't his teammates thought McAuliffe was mean, as well as tough. His nickname was "Mad Dog."
        The meanness part wasn't deserved, at least by the Dick McAuliffe with whom I played a competitive round of golf in 1986. More than a decade past his retirement from baseball and now in the dry cleaning business near his native Hartford, CT, McAuliffe maintained a handicap of three, and had a reputation for competitive toughness at our club, Hop Meadow Country Club in Simsbury. He was inventive as well. Long before top PGA tour professionals started using the cross-handed putting grip, McAuliffe used it -- for all his shots, including drives off the tee box. If you recall his batting stance -- wide open in the extreme -- you know he wasn't afraid of bucking convention in the name of competitiveness.
        In 1986, during a three-day member/member tournament at Hop Meadow, my partner and I were in third place; McAuliffe and his partner were in first, and we faced them in the pivotal seventh match of the weekend event. Our match with them was tied going to the final hole, the

McAuliffe conceded the 15-foot par putt to my partner, giving me a free run on my 45-footer.

severely downhill par 3 9th. My partner lofted his shot into a bunker to the right of the large, round green, which sloped up from front to back. My shot found the left front edge of the green, a good 45 feet from the hole at the back right. McAuliffe hit a beautiful shot pin high, five feet to the left of the hole. My partner hit his sand shot 15 feet from the pin and McAuliffe, supremely confident that he would make his birdie putt to win the match -- and having watched me putt for eight prior holes not at all worried I would get close to the hole -- conceded the 15-footer. But that gave me a free ride on my ridiculously long birdie putt; I made the best stroke of our 63 weekend holes, it hit the back of the cup hard, popped up and dropped in.
        McAuliffe must have realized what he had done because he pretty much shanked his five-footer. We won the match, the flight, and about $500 each, jumping from third place to first in just one putt. McAuliffe's team went from first to third. We all shook hands on the green, as golfers and gentleman do, but inside I was gloating, feeling as if my team had won the World Series. The setup, though, was an act of supreme generosity that some might consider an error of judgment. I don't.
        Rest in peace, Dick.

Read 2526 times Last modified on Tuesday, 17 May 2016 16:45
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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.


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