Memories of Metacomet: Joe Medeiros, Greenskeeper 1983-91
As the the future of Metacomet Golf Club continues to develop, it has brought to my mind many of the fond memories I have, as I was a greens keeper at the club from 1983 to 1991.
See Joe’s Photos Below
The membership of the club at the time was a mostly male dominated group, many second and third generation members, who were proud to be members of a club that was annually considered one of the best in RI.
Bringing Metacomet Into New Era
The superintendent was newly appointed Michael Iacono, who at 27 was taking over the reigns from his dad, Vincent Iacono, superintendent since 1966, who had passed away months earlier.
Mike’s younger brother, Vinnie would serve as his assistant. A daunting task for two young guys to take on. Within the next few years, Mike and Vinnie would change the face of Metacomet.
They had the vision and foresight to bring the course into a new era. New equipment, larger crew, new irrigation, restored bunkers, improved drainage, coupled with innovative maintenance practices transformed the course into a facility that was second to none. It instilled a sense of pride in the staff, at least it did for me, which stayed with me throughout my working career.
Mike would go to any lengths to ensure the course was as its optimum playing ability. Naturally, things don’t always go as planned.
Once, about 3 -4 weeks before we were to host the U S Open qualifiers, the first green, which is the signature hole of the course, was completely lost. Not patches here and there mind you, but the whole green, gone.
Mike came up with a plan to aerate it, dispose of the plugs, aerate the 14th green, and deliver those plugs to the diseased first green, where 5 of us spent the entire 97 degree afternoon filling the holes individually, plug by plug. It was like doing a 100,000 piece puzzle in a furnace. 3 weeks later that green looked impeccable.
Ball Hawking Gentleman
Some lighter moments do come to mind which really I had forgotten.
There was a gentleman who would go “ball hawking” by the second fairway, retrieving balls that found their way into the shallow end of Watchemoket Cove.
Trouble was you had to be careful where you stepped since that area was notoriously laden with what was almost considered quicksand. Sure enough, we luckily heard his cries for help, since we were leaving for the day and high tide was rolling in. We threw him a rope, attached it to a vehicle and pulled him out.
I remember thinking that he was holding the bag of balls tighter than the rope. He was fine…. and back the next day.
Saturday Night “Rendezvous”
There was another incident that I recall, that to this day I still find amusing. There was a time one summer, over the course of a few weeks when I would go to cut the 10th green on Sunday morning there would be tiny holes sprinkled throughout the green.
Surely, there was something that was causing this damage. We used different insecticides, brought in the state’s leading agronomists, and no one could figure out the problem.
And why only on Sunday’s? After a thorough investigation throughout the club it was determined that a young member thought it would be cool for he and his girlfriend to have their Saturday night “rendezvous” on the 10th green, which was fine by me but in the future have her remove her stilettos!
Last Walk Around Metacomet
Aside from the wonderful memories from the people I met and the incredible experiences I had in my time at Metacomet, one instance sticks out in my mind more than any other.
I was about to cut the 2nd green, which abutted Watchemoket cove, on a beautiful early morning in June.
The sun had just popped up and the air was still. I shut off my mower and just took it all in. It was about as peaceful and serene of a setting as you can get. Almost therapeutic. I was within walking distance of civilization yet I felt like I was dropped in the middle of a paradise.
Monday, almost 40 years later, I was given the opportunity to walk around Metacomet for maybe the last time and I stood at that exact spot where I shut my mower off decades ago…. got the same feeling.
In some way it seems like this course is here because it belongs here. That was its purpose when Donald Ross built it almost 100 years ago.
I hope a resolution comes to fruition where we can preserve the integrity of Metacomet in some fashion so that future generations of people can enjoy this pristine land as I and so many more before me have enjoyed.
Photos below are all courtesy of Joe Medeiros: