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Globe North Sports Notebook

A local golf icon is remembered

By John Vellante
July 24, 2011

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The golfing industry lost a giant earlier this month with the death of Bill Flynn after a period of declining health. He was 74.

Golf was his life, and his pride and joy were the three courses - Far Corner in West Boxford, Windham in New Hampshire, and Lakeview in Wenham - that have been managed for many years and very capably by his children Bob, Joanne, and Michael. Another daughter, Janna, owns and operates Lanes End Farm in Danvers.

Early in his entrepreneurial career, he saved from extincton, then rejuvenated, two ailing municipal courses owned by the city of Boston - Franklin Park in Dorchester and George Wright in Hyde Park.

But Bill Flynn was much more than a golf course proprietor. He played the game, too, and during a storied career, won the Vermont Open in 1959, the Massachusetts Open in 1963, and the 1968 New England Professional Golf Association Championship.

Yet he will be remembered for giving back to the game that provided him and his family a comfortable living. There are thousands of golfers on the North Shore and beyond who were introduced to the game by Bill Flynn.

He promoted junior golf at all of his courses, offered free clinics, free equipment, and free playing time for beginners of all ages. He gave free practice time to the Masconomet Regional golf team.

“That will be his legacy, that he gave back much more than the game gave him,’’ said Donnie Lyons, the former president of the New England PGA who worked closely with Flynn for nearly 20 years. “Mr. Flynn . . . was a strong promoter of junior golf. He understood that he was helping raise the next generation of golfers.

“He was especially sensitive to the kids from the inner city. He always said he could teach them the game, but the game could teach them the values of life, especially integrity.’’

Like their father before them, Bob, Joanne and Michael continue to put the emphasis on junior play with free clinics at their courses.

For years, Joanne has worked with inner city kids from Lowell and runs a tournament with proceeds helping victims of domestic abuse.

“My father was hard working and a man of integrity,’’ said Bob Flynn. “He always treated people like he wanted to be treated. Golf was his life. He started as a caddy and worked his way up.’’

Every day since her father’s death, according to Joanne Flynn, people have come up to her and said: “You don’t know me, but I took my first golf lesson from your father 40 years ago,’’ or “Your dad let me play for free at Far Corner.’’

Flynn, said Lyons, was an icon of a businessman, a great player, but above all was an ambassador to the game.

He will be missed and the golf world in general, and the North Shore in particular, is poorer with his passing.

Around and about A handful of area golfers participated in the recent Killington Junior Golf Championship sponsored by the American Junior Golf Association, contested at the par-71 Green Mountain National Golf Course. Nick Fairweather of Windham, N.H., topped the local entrants with a 12-over par 225. He was followed by Charlie May (226) of Topsfield; Jonah Choe (227) of Billerica; Alexander Kane (229) of Danvers; Ryan Tombs (234) of Bedford, N.H.; Tim Cunningham (238) of Reading; and Ryan Richard (241) of Wenham. In the girls’ division, Katie Barrand of Beverly posted a 240. Winners were Jake Shuman of Newton with a 3-under 210 (70-69-71) and Isabel Southard of Sharon with a 5-over 218 (73-72-73) . . . Former UMass Lowell pitcher Jack Leathersich of Beverly certainly impressed in his professional debut. The lefthander was drafted 162d overall by the New York Mets in the Major League Baseball First-Year Draft last month and assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones of the Class A NY-Penn League. In a game against the Vermont Lake Monsters, he was summoned from the bullpen and proceeded to strike out three straight batters, the first one swinging and the next two looking . . . Haverhill has cut its athletic user fees from $275 per student per sport to $125 for the 2011-2012 school year. It’s the beginning of a three-year plan to eliminate them completely. The decrease is expected to lead to increased participation . . . The 12th annual Steve O’Grady Open, which funds scholarships for Salem Little League and Babe Ruth League alumni, is Aug. 15 at Olde Salem Greens. It honors the memory of O’Grady, who played Little League in Salem and went on to become the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem. He was killed in a 1999 automobile accident at the age of 30. Visit stephenogrady.com to register . . . Matthew Lydon of Reading is only 10 years old, but he’s already done something most golfers never accomplish in a lifetime. He aced the par-3, 129-yard third hole at Candlewood Golf Course in Ipswich. He was playing with his mom, Nancy . . . Congrats to another 10-year-old, Cathy Kulevich of Marblehead, who recently won the YMCA Junior National Beam Championship in Toledo. She competed in the girls 15 and under age group.

John Vellante can be reached at JohnPVel@aol.com.


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