Weekend Golfers hit the links no matter what, year after year…

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Tom Wetzel tee's off on the 1st hole at Midville Golf Course

 Weekend Golfers hit the links no matter what, year after year…


Every spring they come out! Some are old and some are young, some are men, and some are women, they may come from different races and religions or economic levels, but they share one thing  - their love of golf! They are the “once a week, weekend” golfer, they play usually the local 9-hole course in most cases, but there are those who play in their weekly league at the “Club”. They all share one thing, a love of golf!


Every Saturday for the past 30 years, a group of players have gotten together to play at West Warwick’s Midville Golf course. This unofficial League began when “Ray Vario went to the course with a friend to get a quick 9 in on a cold and wet Saturday morning (a true hard-core golfer, player anytime and in any weather condition). They were paired up with two other players for that day. As the round progressed, they began to bond and by the end of the 9 holes, they agreed to show up at the same time each week, and so began the league. From that point on no matter the weather Ray, Frank, Joe and Mike showed up to play 9 holes every week. Soon they were joined by Gary, John, Fred and so on until 30 years later what once was 4 now became 20.


This same story has played out time and time again at virtually every golf course all over the world. Players show up starting in March and end up playing until the course closes for the season, “we even played one year on New Year’s Day, the next day we got hit with 10 inches of snow and that was it until March.” Rain or shine, cold or heat, golf players will show up every week.


“I never really played golf until I joined this group” said John who, at 61, has been around for 21 years, and is now the elder statesman. “My first round I hit something like 65. That would have been great if we were playing 18 holes, but terrible for 9 holes. I had just turned 40 and my friend and his father were a part of the league and they encouraged me to come play”. His handicap slowly went from a maximum 18 to a respectable 8, and almost every number in between.


“If it weren’t for the guys encouragement and support, I would have just walked away.” He went on to say, “golf is a strange game, to hit the ball farther you have to swing easy, to get the ball into the air, you have to hit down. You may be paired up with other players, but your opponent is always the course! It is truly the most frustrating, irritating exciting wonderful game you’ll ever play. One good shot can erase a dozen bad shots and that one shot will keep you coming back for more.”


Where golf was once considered a sport for the wealthy, that was all changed in the 1990’s when a guy named Tiger Woods became the sports’ best player. Woods electrified the sport making it cool to play and he ushered in a whole new generation of players. He showed that anyone from anywhere can play golf and enjoy the game - from the very young (remember Tiger appeared on the Mike Douglas Show as a 4 year old with his father, Earl), to the very old, making golf a lifelong sport, one you will keep playing long after you retirefr om all other sports.


The Raymond group, which these guys are known as  - the youngest at 31 and the oldest at 84 - all get a handicap, pick their teams out of a hat and score points for bogeys, pars and birdies (there have been a few eagles over the years, but no holes in ones). They play for that day as a team and the team who scores the most points gets to order a free hot dog and drink at the end of the round.


Busting chops is a must and you have to have a thick skin to play with these guys. It’s bad enough to get it from the teams that you’re playing against, but to get it from your own teammates is tough!” says “New” Rick (who happens to be celebrating his 10th year in the league - Old Rick has been in the league only one year longer). The league season concludes with a tournament in September where they guys play for food and bragging rights - getting their name engraved on the “Raymond Cup” is what you play for for the entire season. (The “Cup” was named for Ray Vario, who passed away at 88 a few years ago). After the tournament we are all back next week, we just keep coming to play until the snow comes and the doors get locked. It’s is only then that we pack the clubs away and do it all over again in March.


John Cardullo, sports writer, RINewsToday