|Webster-Dudley is Course Run By, For Golf Fans|
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Ed Patenaude So I’ve Heard
Directors of the Webster-Dudley Golf Club are researching club history, piecing together more than 80 years of corporate changes, President Robert P. Galante and Treasurer Bruce J. Ziemski agreed on a recent morning.
Their discoveries date back to November 1925, when Horatio Nelson Slater, then president of S. Slater & Sons Co., hired the golf course architects Devereaux-Emmett Co. to plan a Webster-Dudley course, making the design service his contribution to the project.
Devereaux-Emmett was a New York City company and Mr. Slater, the last in his family to head the Webster industry, ran the business pretty much from that city, observed Mr. Ziemski, displaying a knowledge of the enterprise developed by Samuel Slater and, more importantly, Devereaux-Emmett.
The Webster-Dudley layout was designed by a respected group, he observed. It wasn’t a bunch of people sitting around, setting drawings on a plot plan, and ultimately giving some order to things, Mr. Ziemski suggested.
Organization of the Webster-Dudley golf course, on Airport Road in Dudley, was verified through a series of dates: secured option on their existing site, Jan. 26, 1926; chartered, Feb. 3, 1926; bought acreage adjacent to their property at the first meeting of corporators, Feb. 11, 1926. Membership cards were distributed on the same date, but the charter wasn’t closed until April 12, 1927. Some 125 people purchased certificates of ownership.
The Great Depression, starting in 1929, brought financial ruin to millions in the United States and all but claimed the Webster-Dudley Golf Club in its wake. While the Depression lasted about 10 years, economic stability eluded the local golf scene much longer.
Faced with maintenance problems, directors leased the nine-hole course to Nichols College for 10 years on March 24, 1949. Hal Chalmers, athletics director at the college, and Bernard Bazinet, coach of the college’s golf team, were named manager and pro. The college stepped forward because it had the personnel and equipment to maintain the course, never expecting to retain management obligations for more than a decade.
The arrangement persisted for 51 golfing seasons, through 1999. The Webster-Dudley Golf Club directors remained in charge, even as their membership changed, but they didn’t have a whole lot to do, except for an annual meeting and conferences with the Nichols managers.
Edmund “Ted” Malboeuf and William Sujdak, the directors who signed the initial Nichols lease, left the panel and others followed suit.
Today, the nine-member board includes Mr. Galante, Mr. Ziemski, Virginia Tanko-DiDonato, secretary-clerk; Edward J. Papski, Richard Androlewicz, Richard Langieza. Richard Tessier, Brian M. Ravanelle, and David R. Halloran Sr.
Incumbent directors share a major objective, Mr. Galante said. “We all want to keep the course going,” he said, adding a line about general difficulties with nonprofit golf courses. Webster-Dudley has only nine holes and none of the big plusses, such as tennis courts or a swimming pool, but programs and maintenance make it an attractive destination.
The Nichols College administration took a look at their golf course obligations in 1999 and decided they should be a college first and foremost, said Mr. Ziemski. There may have been a flush of anticipation, but the directors were left with challenges unknown to their body. The Nichols crutch was gone, and they had to oversee a half-million-dollar business for the first time in a half century.
An interest in golf, even a fondness for the game, is the common thread among the current management panel. President Galante is a recently retired educator and was once the football coach at Shepherd Hill Regional High School. The late John K. Logan and lawyer Kevin W. Sullivan were his predecessors — or the men that headed the board since Nichols cut i
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