Jim Tanner

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I started caddying at the age of 12 at Pawtucket Country Club.  I can remember the early years as an adolescent trying to break into the caddy ranks.  It was very intimidating showing up on a Saturday morning with 25-30 caddies trying to get a loop.  It was Jimmy who made me feel comfortable about being the new kid on the bench. My brother’s and I were very fortunate to caddy for several years and then eventually work on the greens crew for many more.  As I got older, I realized that I was a second generation of O’Neill’s that were influenced by Jimmy Tanner.  My dad and his brothers  also caddied at Pawtucket.  Jimmy was a positive influence on my Uncles, brothers and now my own children and nephews.  My sons along with my brother’s sons have and continue to caddy at the club.  I’m able to watch first hand how Jimmy continues to be a positive influence on my son’s lives.  I’ve been a member at the club for 20 years and I have had the opportunity to play golf with Jimmy on a regular basis and it’s great to witness how many lives he has touched.  During my caddy days I witnessed first hand how Jimmy treated everyone with kindness,  dignity and respect regardless of their age or situation in life. I’m grateful for the experience and the example that Jimmy has exhibited over the years.  This has been a great example for me and my children.  Jimmy Tanner has earned the respect of many generations based on how he treats others. 

Sincerely, 

Christopher O’Neill
November 2007 in Pawtucket Times

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I have known JT the better part of my life, a friendship spanning over 40 yrs.  I guess I would have to say that next to my parents he was one of the more influential people in my life at least during my early formative years.

I would have to say that caddying at Pawtucket Country Club was truly a microcosm of life, at least as it relates to social development and life skills. As a youngster, I learned a bit about vocational competition, not unlike my career today. Caddying was a great opportunity to earn money and drew men and boys from all area towns and cities. In less than four hours I could make more money than most newspaper route carriers could in a week. But simply wanting to caddy and actually caddying were two different issues. You virtually had to be hired each day.

There were no golf carts and there was an abundance of members at Pawtucket Country Club needing someone to loop it for them (carry their bags) so the opportunity was certainly there to make a handsome day’s pay. $3.00 to $4.00 per bag which I would guess would equate to about $50.00 per bag in today’s dollars. That opportunity was available 7 days a week throughout the summer months.

JT chose the caddies so in essence we worked for him. To be chosen we had to display a strong work ethic and be reliable otherwise we would not be chosen. If it was reported that we dogged it or were impolite we would get benched. Generally there would not be a second complaint about our desire or behavior. The better the reports from members the better the loops in terms of dollars paid. No different than the expectation of our vocations of today. Jim was never one to tolerate bad behavior. Either you stayed in line and performed as required or you were told to “hit the boulevard” (his words exactly). That was the punishment for fighting or for any lack of respect. You either followed protocol or you were fired, at least temporarily as he never held a grudge and after sufficient furlough he always seemed to forgive the wayward caddies and allowed them another chance.

Looking back I would say he was a great boss and leader. There was never a doubt that he liked us and for that matter liked kids in general. But he also understood priorities as he always took care of the adult men first as many supported their households with their caddying income which we all understood.

In many ways it is a shame that golf carts have replaced caddies at most golf courses, our children have missed a wonderful opportunity and experience.

I am older now and a member myself and I sometimes tell him that lost in my youth was the fact that he had such a great wit. He is actually a very funny guy with a great sense of humor and a great perspective on life. JT and I still sometimes converse about some of the “caddyshack” like members that belonged during that era. What is interesting is that I have found that he had pretty much the same take on those eccentric members that we kids had, although he never admitted to that when we were young.

I have been a member now for almost 25 years and I can speak on behalf of our entire membership both past and present and I say we are all better for having known him and we are fortunate to call him a friend.

As former caddies we will forever be indebted to him.

Bill Tansey

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Women’s Am may return to RICC

01:00 AM EDT on Sunday, July 6, 2008

Juliet Vongphoumy, 14, will compete in the State Amateur.

Journal / BOB BREIDENBACH

An agreement is near to bring another national golf championship to Rhode Island.

The United States Golf Association has tentatively agreed to accept an invitation from Rhode Island Country Club to host the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the Journal has learned. The only hurdle that remains is the signing of a contract.

David Piccerelli, the first vice president at RICC and the person who will be the club president in 2011, confirmed the plan by his club.

“We have offered to host the tournament and the USGA has accepted,” Piccerelli said. “But we can’t say much about it until the contracts are signed. We are waiting for the USGA to provide us with the contract.”

The event is being planned in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Donald Ross-designed bayside course. The club celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1986 in the same way. It hosted the women’s amateur won by Kay Cockerill.

That event was a huge success, both on and off the course. Twenty-five years later, women’s golf has grown considerably, making the event even more attractive for the state to host. Just two years ago, Newport Country Club hosted the U.S. Women’s Open and that, too, was a rousing success with Annika Sorenstam winning in a payoff over Patty Hurst.

This year’s Women’s Amateur will be held Aug. 4-9 at Eugene, Ore., Country Club. The 2009 event is set for Aug. 3-9 at the Old Warson Country Club in St. Louis and the 2010 championship at Charlotte, N.C., Country Club Aug. 9-15.

Trying to predict who will be playing three years down the road is all but impossible in women’s golf. The top stars tend to turn pro earlier than among the men. And stars often rise at a younger age. Young players are a bigger factor in the women’s game than among the men. In the recent U.S. Women’s Open at Interlachen in Edina, Minn., 25 amateurs took part and seven amateurs made the cut.

While nothing is yet official, Piccerelli made it clear that RICC officials are doing all they can to bring the tournament to Rhode Island. It would not be surprising to see an official announcement within a month.

Tanner honored

The members of Pawtucket Country Club have come up with a unique – and special – way to honor Jim Tanner, the long time caddie master at the club.

Sixty-eight club members and former caddies competed in the Jim Tanner Classic at the course last weekend, with all proceeds going to the RIGA’s Burke Scholarship program. The event raised $1,300.

A team competition was held with John Winters, Bill Tansey, Dan Vial, Jack McDermott, Evan Force, Shawn Rebocho, Paul O’Neil, Paul O’Neil Jr., Gary Reis, Rodney MacKenzie, Bob Taylor, Rick Arrighi, Tim O’Neil, Les Kennedy Jr, Craig Force, Dave Kalafarski, Patrick O’Neil, Jason Machado, Bob Kando, Ken Masson, Bill Gagnon, Bob Murray, Ray Murtha, Jay Glasson, Ray Gorman, Chick Gorman, Guy Larocque, Bob Ferguson, Bob Pommenville, Ed Hunt, Mark Melikian, Joe Keough, John Markley and Bob Carroll forming the winning team.

First things first

This week’s State Amateur at Agawam Hunt has taken on a special flair with the participation of the first female ever to take part, high school champion Juliet Vongphoumy.

R.I. Golf Association officials, like their counterparts in the USGA, like to create unusual pairings as they have done it with the 14-year-old Vongphoumy, who not only is the first female ever to play but also is the youngest player in this year’s field.

They have paired her, for the two days of qualifying, with two of the oldest players in the tournament, Nick Cioe and Pat Monti, both of whom are in their 60s. The threesome will tee off at high noon tomorrow.

The pairing can do nothing but help Vongphoumy. Monti and Cioe are two of the most respected players in the state, not to mention two of the most easy going, as well.

They’re in!

Two of the other high school stars who will be in the Amateur with Vongphoumy, Jared Adams and Eddie Hjerpe, earned a spot in a national tournament this past week.

Adams, of Barrington High School and Crestwood Country Club, fired an even par 71 to overtake Hjerpe, his high school Ttammate, in the second round of the Trusted Choice Big “I” Junior Classic at Potowout. Hjerpe led after the first round with a 1-over 72, but doubled the 36th hole to fire a two-round total of 148 and finish a shot behind Adams, who put together rounds of 76-71.

They will represent Rhode Island in the National Tournament to be held August 2-7 at the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst. The alternate will be Wannamoisett’s Owen Lynch, who had a two-day total of 151.

Chip shots

David Sampson has qualified for the U.S. Public Links Championship. He shot 143 over two rounds at the George Wright Golf Course in Hyde Park, Mass., to tie for medalist honors with Ravi Patell of Naperville, Ill. Only two spots were available. … Apparently, playing in the CVS Caremark Charity Classic is a good way to prepare for a tour event. The weather delay that caused so many problems on the last day’s of this year’s CVS certainly did not hurt the players who rushed from the tournament to their tour events. Bubba Watson won the CVS, then tied for second at The Buick in Michigan. Nick Price missed the CVS tie by a stroke, then finished second in the Champions Tour event in New York. And Nicole Castrale won friends and admirers with a strong performance in the CVS, then got to Minnesota in time to tie for sixth in the Women’s Open.