Entries Tagged as '2015'

Tanner honored after 65 years at PCC by Jon Baker December 5, 2015

By JON BAKER • jbaker@pawtuckettimes.com
“It’s a joy to have discovered a place that has made me so happy. I wonder sometimes if I discovered heaven 50 years ago.” – James Tanner.
PAWTUCKET – Those words were composed by Jim Tanner almost 14 years ago for a booklet entitled, “A Centennial History of Pawtucket Country Club – 1902-2002.” Apparently, it turned out to be quite the birthday party.
He felt that way about the gorgeous, 18-hole, par-69 layout when he first began caddying at back in 1950, and that heartfelt sentiment has never wavered, even after an astonishing 65 years of service on the same parcel of land.
That’s why – less than eight hours after Tanner, now 77, became one of the newest inductees of the R.I. Golf Association Hall of Fame at a banquet at Lincoln’s Kirkbrae Country Club on Tuesday night – he was back at work, taking care of the usual business inside the PCC’s golf bag storage room and cart garage.
As always, he arrived from his north Seekonk home at precisely 5:30 a.m., and – by 11:30 – already was driving carts outside for a couple of members willing to brave the wintry conditions for a round.
The links was virtually empty given the rainy, raw weather, and he didn’t have much to do, but he didn’t care. This is his “home-away-from-home,” where he belongs.
That work ethic (he admits he’s here every day at the same time), that determination, that love for PCC are all what earned the amiable Tanner such a prestigious honor, though he’s really not quite sure why it was awarded.
(Add “humble” here).
“Bob Ward (the RIGA’s Executive Director) told me about the Hall of Fame about a month ago right here,” he stated as he stood by the opened garage door. “I was stunned. I was thrilled. I was in awe. In fact, I broke up a little bit. I couldn’t believe it. There aren’t many people in the Hall of Fame, maybe 40, and now, me? I’m one of them? It’s unreal.”
Longtime pal Joe Capineri, an 85-year-old Pawtucket native who kept Tanner company on this blustery morning, indicated he wasn’t surprised an iota.
“The guy who presented, or introduced, Jim at the banquet was Steve Napoli, who for years was the golf pro here,” he noted. “He moved on to Wannamoisett, then to Carnegie Abbey, and now he’s at Liberty National in New Jersey, where you can see the Statue of Liberty from almost every hole.
“He went through Jim’s history in golf, how influential he had been for the caddies here, how he mentored them,” he added. “Jim taught them not only how to caddy, but also a great respect for the game, the members and the country they lived in. He told them they had to abide by the laws of this nation, and how to be respectful gentlemen.
“During his speech, I felt elated; I’m so proud of him,” he continued. “We’re such close friends, but I still said, ‘Hey, Jimmy, you’ve got me living in the shadows. You outdid me (Tuesday) night!’ After Jimmy spoke, he got a standing ovation from the (301) people there – and it was an extended ovation. He addressed the folks, thanking all the people who had employed him and helped his rise in the golf world, guys like Steve and Les Kennedy.
“All the things he learned as a youngster and into his 20s and 30s from his bosses and members, he passed those values down to his caddies.”
It’s rather whimsical how he came to the club in the first place.
“I grew up on Warwick Road, right down the street (Armistice Boulevard), and I had a Pawtucket Times’ paper route, but it was an afternoon paper back then,” Tanner recalled. “I was 12 at the time, and one of my uncles, Bob Curry, said, ‘Why don’t you try to caddy?’ I asked him, ‘What’s that?’ and he said, ‘Carrying a golf bag, and you can do it right down the street at the club.’
“I knew where it was, so I did, and I’ve been here ever since,” he laughed.
Tanner explained how he not only caddied, but began working in the pro shot two years later, at the tender age of 14. He started playing not long after his introduction to the links, courtesy of the administration’s and membership’s gift of holding a “Caddies’ Day” every Monday morning.
“The other kids were golfing, so I figured I’d tag along,” he said.
He later competed for the Pawtucket East High squad, and exhibited such talent for the game, was named captain as a senior. He played annually in the old R.I. Caddy Championship, and was a member of the PCC contingent that captured the team title in 1956 before taking part on the R.I. Juniors circuit.
During the same state Junior championship in 1957, Tanner settled for runner-up honors, despite the fact he earlier that season had fired an impressive, two-under 67 at Pawtucket.
“It was a five-day event at Rhode Island Country Club, and I finished second to Tom Cunningham, who had just graduated from Holy Cross, and I was a senior at East,” he reminisced. “He had won it three years running, so I was honored.”
Later in ’57, he served as a seaman in the U.S. Navy. Upon his return in 1959, he went straight back to PCC to resume more peaceful duties.
He married his wife of 55 years, Doris, on May 27, 1960, and the couple decided to have a family, one that includes sons Timothy and James, and daughter Jennifer. Naturally, with Tanner as the caddymaster, his two boys would accompany him to the club to do the same thing he had in his youth.
How he happened on to that job is a story in itself.
“I was working in the pro shop and became an assistant golf pro under Les, but they needed a caddymaster,” Tanner said. “I was married with two children at the time, and it paid more than then the one as assistant pro, so I took it in 1964. The members here rarely asked for golf lessons because they had grown up playing here, so I thought, ‘Why not? We need the money.’”
According to the booklet distributed at the RIGA’s Hall of Fame fete, under Tanner’s bio, “The members of Pawtucket Country Club leave no doubt about their feelings for James ‘J.T.’ Tanner. They think of him in such high regard that they run an annual golf tournament in his name, then donate all the proceeds to the Burke (Caddy Scholarship) Fund.
“The former caddies are the ones who decided to honor Tanner by holding the annual golf tournament in his name, (and) the event began with 68 players in the first year, but has grown … (Now it) regularly attracts over 100 players, many of whom come in from other states to take part.”
In 2010, “J.T.” became a member of the Professional Caddie Association Hall of Fame in Orlando, Fla.
On Wednesday, Tanner seemed rather uncomfortable when The Times came calling, allowing Capineri to speak for him. He doesn’t like being singled out; he just wants to help others.
Still, he admitted being stunned, and appreciative, by the outpouring of love and respect he received at the RIGA banquet.
“I have to say it went terrific, absolutely terrific,” Tanner said with a smile. “A lot of members here went, over 60 of them, and they told me how excited they were for me. They thanked me for all I had done over the years.”
Without saying it, he nodded, seemingly thinking, “Just who’s thanking who?!”
When asked how much longer he will pursue his work at the club, he grinned again, “I don’t know, but this never gets old, and it’s because of the people. They’re very classy people here, very friendly and helpful. I’ve never thought, not for a second, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ Not even close.”
He then turned, peered out the garage door at the picturesque landscape surrounding him and sighed.
Yes, this is heaven.

2015 Jim Tanner Scholar is Connor P. Pratt

ConnorPratt_JT_RosPicThis year the Burke Fund selected Connor P. Pratt as the sixth Jim Tanner Scholar. Connor Pratt has been a caddy from Newport Country Club. He will enter University of New Hampshire this fall as a freshman, planning to concentrate in computer studies. Connor has an outstanding academic record at Rogers High School, and was captain of the Golf Team and the Indoor Track Team.

Connor will receive the scholarship granted for four years requiring that a minimum grade average and full time status is maintained. Scholars of the Burke Fund are each required to work at a member golf course for a minimum of 2 years and include caddies, bag room attendants, pro shop and servers in the clubhouse.

We encourage young men and women to consider working at Pawtucket Country Club or any of the RIGA member clubs.

Previous Jim Tanner Scholars include John Coaty, Ryan Deighan, Justin Pires, Kaley Paulo and Terrance O’Neill.

Next year will mark the tenth annual Jim Tanner Caddy Classic. We plan on many special events leading to the event planned for Monday July 11, 2016 with a 10:00 shotgun start. Many charity events do not make it to the ten year mark. Many thanks for the generous support of the Pawtucket Country Club Board of Directors and the many members that play and make donations.

Donations this year included Bob Savoie, Frank Donehy, John O’Connor, Wannamoisett , Ledgemont, Metacomet, Agawam, Shelter Harbor, Wannumetonomy, Montaup, Alpine, Rhode Island, Segregansett, Crystal Lake, Triggs, Laurel Lane, Country View, Warwick and New England Country Clubs.

Preparations for the tenth annual Jim Tanner Caddy Classic have already begun.

Ninth Annual JT Classic was another success

The 9th annual Jim Tanner Caddy Classic was played on Monday July 6th. It was a perfect day to celebrate the rich history of Pawtucket Country Club and the many years that our guests played and worked at the grand old links. Jim Tanner has worked at Pawtucket for more than 6 decades and once caddied for Sam Snead and also caddied for Charlie Sifford when he won the RI Open at Pawtucket in 1956.
Sam Snead and Charlie Sifford are both in the PGA Hall of Fame. Jim Tanner is a member of the Professional Caddies Association Hall of Fame and the Pawtucket Country Hall of Fame.

The foursome of Kevin Fortin, Joe Videtta, Joe Gabriel, and Eric Kmetz won the team gross with a score of 5 under 64. The team net was won by Adam Craig, Jeff Emond, Mike Hazel and Jon Hall with a 15 under par 54. Closest to pin on 5 was won by Tino Ciatto and Bob Crawford won closest to pin on 15. Playing partner, Joe Crissafi reported that Bob made the 12 inch putt for a birdie. Long Drive was well over 300 yards recorded by Don Morin.

Alan Santamaria and Dave Ryan won the only skins for the day.

Next year will be the tenth year playing the Jim Tanner Caddy Classic www.jimtannercaddyclassic.com . The tournament has raised over $60,000 for the Burke Scholarship Fund www.burkefund.org

Closest to the Pin #5 Tino Ciatto
Closest to the Pin #15 Bob Crawford
Long Drive #18 Don Morin

JT Classic to be played Monday July 6th at 1:00 shotgun

The Jim Tanner Caddy Classic will be held Monday July 6 at 1:00 shotgun at Pawtucket Country Club with four man teams playing a best ball with a gross and net team competition. There will also be net and gross skins games with a luncheon served at noon.
Entry fee for the JT Classic is $125 made payable to Jim Tanner Caddy Classic and should be sent to my attention: Rodney MacKenzie 1 Park Drive North Smithfield RI 02896. Pawtucket Country Club members can sign up in the proshop with Mike Gelinas.
You can make your own foursome or can sign up by yourself or with other members or guests and the committee will make up a foursome for the event.
You are encouraged to sign up early so that you will be included in this exciting event.
Entry fee includes golf, cart, food and prizes. There will be a raffle ($20 for 5 tickets) and optional gross skins game ($10).
You are welcome to donate prizes for raffle and auction and personal donations made payable to Jim Tanner Caddy Classic. All Donations will be recognized in the Jim Tanner Caddy Classic program.
Please use this form as your registration:
Name, Handicap, email address, phone

Monday July 6, 2015 will mark the 9th Annual Jim Tanner Caddy Classic with a 1:00 shotgun

By BRIAN COSTA  Updated April 13, 2015  Augusta, Ga.

The man who celebrated with Jordan Spieth on the 18th green at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday made his first trip here only three years ago. Michael Greller wasn’t even a professional caddie at the time. He was a sixth-grade math teacher who won a lottery for Masters tickets and spent the day following Rory McIlroy. “I had a few beers and enjoyed the walk,” he said.

Greller’s path from standing outside the ropes to carrying the bag of the Masters champion is far more improbable than Spieth’s impressive victory. And it reveals both the randomness of the caddying business and the way Spieth has approached the game.

When Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997—at 21, the same age as Spieth—the man carrying his bag was Mike “Fluff” Cowan. With more than two decades of experience caddying on the PGA Tour, Cowan offered the kind of in-depth course knowledge that Woods, for all his prodigious talent, lacked.

But in hiring Greller, 37, at the start of Spieth’s career and sticking with him as he ascended to this point, Spieth prioritized personal chemistry. That he went so far as to hire someone who had caddied only occasionally for amateurs ranked as one of the bigger upsets in pro caddying.

“It’s rare,” said Mike Kerr, a PGA Tour caddying veteran who now caddies for Adam Scott. “You have to be really lucky to get into that position. But the way they work together, it looks like he’s been doing it a long time.”

In the more strategic aspects of caddying—knowing the details of every hole and advising on club selection and targets—Greller has been studious. Before the third round Saturday, he spent 45 minutes talking to Carl Jackson, the longtime caddie to Ben Crenshaw who first worked the Masters in 1961. With Greller taking notes, the two of them talked through every hole on the course.

But the reason he has latched on with golf’s biggest rising star has little to do with measuring yardages or memorizing breaks on a green. It is because of moments like this: When Spieth double-bogeyed the 17th hole Saturday, Greller didn’t say much as they walked to the 18th tee box. He mostly just listened.

“You don’t want to overanalyze or make it harder than it is,” Greller said. “I just try to be a calming influence on him. He’s very intense.”

Spieth recovered to end his round with a par on No. 18, a pivotal sequence in the tournament. And while it’s impossible to assess a caddie’s impact, the moment speaks to how knowing your boss can trump so many other aspects of the job.

“Ninety percent of caddying is getting along with your pro,” said Adam Hayes, who caddies for Russell Henley. “Knowing when to keep it light or be serious. He obviously keeps Jordan comfortable.”

Getting the chance to do so in the first place, however, was largely a matter of being in the right place at the right time. The series of events that led Greller to Spieth traces back to a chance encounter nine years ago.

In 2006, Greller attended the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at a course near his home in Gig Harbor, Wash., as a spectator. When he noticed a player named Matt Savage carrying his own bag and struggling in the first round, he offered to caddie for him free.

“We offered to pay him and he refused,” said Savage, now an assistant golf coach at Florida State. “He just enjoyed being part of the event.”

Four years later, Savage recommended Greller to a childhood friend who happened to be a top amateur, Justin Thomas, for another tournament near Greller’s home. Thomas, in turn, recommended Greller to his good friend, Spieth, when Spieth needed a caddie for the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur, which was also held near Greller’s home.

It was a marriage of convenience. Greller was a local and knew the course at Gold Mountain Golf Club from experience.

At that point, he had no aspirations of making caddying his profession. Among other things, Greller liked that it gave him a practical-world example to show his students. After caddying at amateur tournaments, he would often bring his yardage book—which caddies use to calculate precise distances on the course—into class.

“A lot of that is sixth-grade math,” Greller said. “It’s kind of eerie how much it translates.”

But when Spieth won that first tournament with Greller on his bag, they formed a bond. In 2012, Greller caddied for him when he played in the U.S. Open as an amateur. Spieth’s 21st-place finish there made him the top-ranked amateur in the world, which could have easily worked against Greller.

“There were a lot of people who wanted to caddie for Jordan,” Spieth’s agent, Jay Danzi, said. But when he turned pro in late 2012, Spieth wasn’t sure how quickly he would succeed. He wanted a caddie who would travel with him throughout the year, regardless of how well or where he was playing. Spieth offered Greller the job, and that was the end of Greller’s teaching career.

Greller’s wife, Ellie, has since left her job as a kindergarten teacher to join him on the road. The two go together wherever Spieth is playing, their lives transformed by a mix of happenstance, diligence and the meteoric rise of the newest Masters champion.

“There are thousands of guys who could probably caddie for Jordan,” Greller said. “But if I thought about that, I’d drive myself crazy.”