Twisting hole pumpkin. Image courtesy of Westchester County Parks.
Tom Avezzano has had 66 years of service at a job he loves, and now he’s getting the recognition he deserves as a Hall of Fame inductee.
Tom Avisano’s mother sent him to Sprain Lake Golf Course to earn a little money as a caddy in 1956 and he’s been there ever since. This year, the 76-year-old PGA professional will be inducted into the Westchester County Sports Hall of Fame.
Avezzano went to work at the Sprain Lake pro shop after a year as a packer, and took over as chief pro at age 31 in 1975. He organizes events, sells equipment, and gives golf lessons. Thousands and thousands of lessons.
“What makes me the happiest is that I have helped so many people enjoy the game,” he says. “I am so grateful. The people have been great.” Avezzano says he tries to give everyone a little tip about golf: “This is entertainment — and you’re supposed to enjoy it! It’s important for people to learn to enjoy the game rather than have a low handicap. That’s the only goal I have.”
One manifestation of Avezzano’s belief that “fun” is synonymous with “golf” is the annual Halloween Scramble he started. This year, so many golfers signed up that the event was spread over two days at the end of October. Approximately 250 golfers and male golfers roamed the golf course that has been turned into a true Halloween-themed amusement park with a skeleton driving a drink cart and lanes roaming with ghosts, witches, goblins and the most terrifying of all, a quadruple of mime. . The Closest-to-Pin contest was held on the thirteenth hole, but shots had to dodge an obstacle course of the gourd to get anywhere near the hole.
Being inducted into the Westchester County Sports Hall of Fame was a huge surprise. “I am very humbled by this honor, especially when I see so many other people who have had it,” Avitzano says. Some of those inducted into the hall are former New York Giants half-back and Monday Night football commentator Frank Gifford, former Yankee quarterback Bernie Williams, and Emmy Award-winning sports journalist Jimmy Roberts.
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