Golfer recalls the days before O.C.'s links growth

September 20, 1992|By Blair Holley | Blair Holley,Contributing Writer

Sam Villani said a word the other day that really rang in my

ear -- "Caddy." Since I had not heard this word since moving to the Eastern Shore four years ago, I had to investigate.

Mr. Villani mentioned that he had gotten his start in golf as a caddy at the original Ocean City Golf Club, which was where the Captain's Hill development now stands. And what a start it was, leading to a lifelong love of playing the game and membership at the Ocean City Golf and Yacht Club.

He thinks the original course was built somewhere around 1910, but says he didn't get there until 1937. "There weren't many jobs down here and caddying was a good one. You got 35 cents a round," Mr. Villani said.

A round was one nine-hole trip on the course. So if the golfer played 18 holes, a caddy got 70 cents and usually a dollar including the tip. Of course, he often carried two bags and then earned from $1.40 to $2. Big money in those Depression days for a 16-year-old.

Mr. Villani said that most of the players then were doctors or lawyers and most came to the course while on vacation in Ocean City from Baltimore and Washington. Times have changed, since many local players are not from those two professions and it's only recently that Ocean City has begun to develop a reputation as a golf destination.

The old course was operated by a family named Whaley, Mr. Villani said, adding that the family was associated with Riddle Farm, training ground of the famed racehorse Man O' War.

It was somewhat of a short course but "tricky," in Mr. Villani's words, as a golfer had to play over marshland. But it did have two par five holes, and golfers played the second nine from farther back on the tees.

Mr. Villani and the other caddies -- he remembers 25 or 30 working there -- played late in the afternoon, since they did not have a separate caddy's day. And they all played with only one or two clubs that they had managed to scrape up somewhere and, of course, with balls they found on the course.

The original course disappeared when the Cape Isle of Wight development was built, ironically, by a couple of former caddies, Charles and William Lynch. And shortly thereafter, in 1959, the current Ocean City Golf and Yacht Club was started with its prime movers and shakers: Dick Hall, Dirk and Bo Quillin, Edgar Gaskins, Herm Sorin and Robe Holland, according to Mr. Villani's memory.

Mr. Villani is a member there with a handicap of 11, respectable for a man of 71. He plays twice a week with his regular foursome: J. D. Quillin, Roland Farlow and William Steger, with Lee Duggan on standby if someone can't make it.

Asked if he had foreseen the recent growth in golf courses in the area, Mr. Villani said he had, and he used his store, Mr. Villani's Furniture, as an example. Built elsewhere in 1939, the current store was constructed in 1951 on U.S. 50 across from where the White Marlin Mall now stands. "Just look across the road now. It used to be a cornfield up to five or six years ago. Why not golf, too?" he said.

The Ocean City G&YC Senior Club Championship was held last week, and Van Seibel captured the overall championship with an even-par 73 on the Seaside Course. Bill MacDonald led all the nets with a 60.

In age groups, Jim Flaig had 86 and Joe Ryan 64 to pace the crowd, Tim Comley put up 90 and Jim Eby 72 for 61-65 honors, Zip Nanna had 85 and George Schaen 72 to head the 66-70 bunch (Mr. Seibel's category), Al Moran totaled 87 and Dave Wilkins had 71 for honors among those 71-75, and Jay Coleman had an 88 and Harry Cullen 71 for the best of the 76 and over men.

Mr. Moran was hot in a separate Individual Quota Points tourney, as he amassed 10 points to easily come out on top over Seibel's 6, with Norm Connell at 4.

Also at OCG&YC, a Ladies Day Best Two Balls of Four went to Connie Hall, Mary Sanford, Bella Gordon and Audrey Thompson with a 126 total. Liz McClary, Peg Murray, Mabel Jarvis and Ethel Stampone were next with 129.

Pine Shore Golf had its usually active week of play, with Wednesday Ladies League laurels going to Lorraine Breidenbach, Dorothea Algiers and Nancy Giardina with a best ball of 60. In the Sunday Morning Scramble, Preston Lewis joined with Tom Quillen, Dana Cooper and Will Rogers for a winning 9-under-par. The Coed Scramble Just for Fun on Wednesday evening went to Irv Hudson, Barbara Carberry and Dick and Jane Ponton with a 3-under card.

The American Red Cross Fall Classic will be played at the Ocean Pines course on Oct. 14. An 8:30 a.m. shotgun start will get the contestants off early and the $350 per team entry fee buys golf, cart, breakfast, lunch and more. Participation is especially needed, as the damage of Hurricane Andrew has depleted the war chest of the Red Cross. Call (410) 749-5331.

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