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Pessagno finds retirement doesn't fit him

Pessagno finds retirement doesn't fit him

July 16, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

The face, the greeting and the teachings have been around the Washington County golf scene since he arrived in Hagerstown in 1970.

Chuck Pessagno retired in 2002 after 32 years as the head professional at Fountain Head Country Club, but was swept back into the local golf arena when changes were made at Beaver Creek Country Club last December.

He had plenty of time on his hands and, as is the case when something you've done for so long is in your veins, he just couldn't let go of golf.

"I started to get a little worn out after 30 years on the job," said Pessagno. "But I would be around the house and say to my wife, 'The housework is done,' and then I'd have nothing to do."

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Pessagno went to work at Musket Ridge in Myersville, Md., but when a call came from Dirk Schultz, who took over at Beaver Creek prior to the start of the golf season, Pessagno was eager to lend his talents.

Pessagno won't tell you that all of the aspiring club professionals he mentored while at Fountain Head went on to become head pros. One who has is Darren Smith, who honed his management skills under Pessagno from 1997 until succeeding him at Fountain Head in 2002.

"(Chuck) is the most professional person on and off the golf course I have ever met," said Smith. "He is a good friend, a great teacher. His teachings set me up for success ... he wouldn't let me fall on my face."

As a youngster, Pessagno worked as a caddie at Clifton Park, a Baltimore municipal course. He even caddied in some Eastern Opens for Billy Collins, a Baltimore native who won the Western Open.

Pessagno said he was too small to play other sports, so he began to develop his golf skills through the Baltimore Junior Golf program and said there were opportunitites to play on field trips every Monday.

His abilities were evident as a prep player at Baltimore City College, where he won the Maryland high school medal championship in 1957. His team went 48-0 and included such talent at Mike McGuinness, who became the head professional at Holly Hills Country Club, near Frederick, Md.

He moved on to Loyola (Md.) College and went to work for one year outside of golf after graduating.

"I was working for one year and said to myself that I was not going to keep doing this," he said. "Fortunately, my wife was working and had a good job and I went back into golf."

Pessagno hooked on as an assistant at Allview (Columbia, Md.) under John Musser for a year. He moved on to Clifton Park for three years, then spent another three years as an assistant at Baltimore Country Club before an opening was available at Fountain Head.

"The day I was hired (at Fountain Head) my second son (Steven) was born," said Pessagno, who has another son, Chuck Jr. "Moving to Hagerstown, the pace was different, but I've not met a finer bunch of people here.

When he was introduced to the membership at Fountain Head, he said he told the crowd he looked forward to being their golf pro for 30 years.

"By the time 20 years had come around, all the youngsters were grown up, but I said to myself I was going to make it 30 years," he said.

Pessagno said the most important facets of his job were providing members a well-run facility, helping them to improve their game and choose the right equipment, standards which he continues to employ. The most difficult was helping individuals improve their game.

He said the biggest change in the game is in the equipment.

"There are a lot of people playing golf now that might not have been able to back in the old days," he said. "It was very difficult playing with persimmon woods and forged irons. Those clubs weren't forgiving like they are today."

Five mornings a week Pessagno is busy at Beaver Creek doing what he loves to do. For how long?

"As long as I can," he said.

Tournament dates



The Maryland State Golf Association conducts its Pro-Am at Kenwood Country Club in Bethesda, Md., on Monday. Competing will be Beaver Creek pro Dirk Schultz and amateur Ken Lampard, Fountain Head pro Darren Smith and amateur Mike Weber, Fountain Head pro Rob Millburn and amateur Don Bachtell, Black Rock pro Tim Reeves and amateur Steve Caron, Hollow Creek pro Toby Meacham and amateur John Krumpotich and Holly Hills pro Jody Rokisky and amateur Dave Procopchak.

Locust Hill, near Charles Town, W.Va., will host a 36-hole qualifier for the West Virginia Amateur championship, slated for July 31-Aug. 3, slated for The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs. In Wednesday's qualifier are David Boggs of Shepherdstown, Henry Kayes of Martinsburg and Matt Martin of Hedgesville in a group teeing off at 8 a.m. David Fort and Terry Staubs, of Charles Town, and Jason Liggett, of Harpers Ferry, tee at 8:10. Charles Town's James Metz, Shepherdstown's Chris Bradshaw and Martinsburg's Terry Hess go off at 8:20. At 8:40, Daniel Rowland of Hedgesville, Matt Davis of Harpers Ferry and Jimmy McWilliams of Martinsburg go off.

Qualifying for the Pennsylvania Open takes place on Wednesday at Chambersburg Country Club. Ruelle Wolfe, Brian Barrows, Scott Kegerreis and Michael Banzhoff, all of Chambersburg; Kevin Reiber, John Weber, Jarred Johnson and Jake Wetzel, all of Waynesboro, hope to gain a spot in the Open, to be contest Aug. 14-16 at Nemacolin Woods.




Tim Koelble's Divots column appears on Sunday's. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at koelble@herald-mail.com

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