"Ray Billows - The Cinderella Kid" by Tom Buggy (Self-published & directly available from the author as well on Amazon and Barnes and Noble) is a tribute to one of the Met Area’s best but unsung amateur players of the 20th Century.
Ray Billows, a long-time resident of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was the 1948 Metropolitan Amateur Champion, New York State Amateur Champion a record-setting seven times, played in The Masters twice, reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur three times, was a member of the Walker Cup team in two different decades, and won the Dutchess Golf and Country Club men's championship 14 times, as well as countless other titles.
Tom Buggy, a past president of Dutchess G&CC in Poughkeepsie and long-time Billows family friend, believed golf enthusiasts should be aware of this unassuming but exceptional golfer, who was the subject of an exhibit at the USGA Museum in 2016. In interviews with fellow competitors, family members, golf administrators, and members of the media -- in addition to many conversations with Billows -- he chronicles the 60-year career of a true example of an amateur golfer.
Billows arrived in Poughkeepsie from his hometown of Racine, WI, in 1934. In 1935 he won his first significant tournament, the New York State Amateur Championship held at Winged Foot Golf Club. He defeated, among others, Wille Turnesa, who competed against him many more times including at the 1948 U.S. Amateur where Turnesa defeated Billows in the finals. Billows earned a reputation as a perpetual runner-up by never winning the U.S. Amateur despite being in the finals three times. Yet he took pride in being a member of a winning U.S. Walker Cup team as well as an unbeaten Metropolitan member of a victorious Lesly Cup team. One of his treasured accomplishments was a hole-in-one at Augusta National's 16th hole during the 1940 Masters.
Billows competed beside such well-known and honored Met Area champions as Doug Ford, Frank Strafaci, Jess Sweetser, and of course Turnesa. A long-time resident of the Hudson Valley, he passed away in 2000 at age 85.
The author, a student of golf history, provides a portrait of one of the most celebrated players who drew attention to the clubs and courses in the northern part of the MGA's jurisdiction and the high level of play amongst that region's amateur golfers. Of them all, Ray Billows remains the most decorated and revered. The author, too, deserves plaudits for his masterful efforts.
In his book "Business Golf" (Golf Long Island, Inc., $20), Met Area golf industry executive and publisher John Glozek shares his experiences in using golf as a key element in building a successful career. Like a modern Dale Carnegie, he explains in a step-by-step guide how to create, nurture, and maintain solid and lasting business relationships through the game of golf.
For new golfers just starting out in the business world or even a seasoned company executive just beginning the game, the book provides answers to thorny questions regarding golf etiquette and rules, wagering, proper attire, cell phone issues, and perhaps the most critical, the 19th hole.
As one who began his corporate life inside a major aerospace company, Glozek learned quickly the intricacies and complexities of how to use golf to succeed in a high intensity business environment and utilized that knowledge to grow his business.
In addition to sharing his own sage advice, he wisely includes experiences and comments offered by nearly two dozen individuals from varied walks of life about how golf has contributed to their business careers. One contributor is President Donald J. Trump along with two distinguished past presidents of the Metropolitan Golf Association, Gene Bernstein and the late Joseph Cantwell.
In chapter after chapter, Glozek provides the tools, the insight, and the wisdom to grow one's game in the boardroom, around the office water cooler, and in the clubhouse.
Bill Giering contributed to this review.
"Golf's Iron Horse: The Astonishing, Record-Breaking Life of Ralph Kennedy" by John Sabino
The history of golf has seen its share of incredible records -- Jack Nicklaus's 18 majors; Jim Furyk's lowest one-round PGA Tour score of 58; Kathy Whitworth's 88 professional victories -- but arguably the most head-scratching is the one owned by the late Ralph Kennedy.
Kennedy is the record-holder for most golf courses played in a lifetime, numbering an astonishing 3,165 courses in North, South, and Latin America and the British Isles, totaling over 8,500 rounds!
A founding member of Winged Foot Golf Club, Kennedy began this odyssey in 1919 at Van Cortlandt Park Golf Course; he played his final round in 1953 at Hamilton Inn Golf Club in Lake Pleasant, NY. He made a habit of saving each scorecard from every round and had either the club professional, general manager, or a playing partner sign it and then he stored each one in a safe deposit box.
Telling this story is another peripatetic Met Area golfer, John Sabino of New Jersey, who has played all 100 of the world's top-rated golf courses. His book, "Golf's Iron Horse," (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.99) does more than just chronicle one man's endeavor of teeing it up the equivalent of every day for 23 straight years. While Sabino does that, and at times takes the reader for a dizzying journey following Kennedy course to course, year to year, he also weaves in an historian's perspective on America from the Roaring Twenties through the Great Depression to its post-World War II era of prosperity and world leadership. Sabino's digest of American history is worth the price of the book alone.
The author could have easily bored the reader with a humdrum recounting of Kennedy's exploits, since Kennedy was a casual golfer and not a skilled and accomplished competitor, but Sabino wisely opted for a different approach. Much of the narrative contains colorful and vivid descriptions of many of the iconic venues Kennedy played such as Cypress Point (his favorite last three holes), Pine Valley (No. 1 on his list) and Augusta National (along with many references to his friendship with Bobby Jones). Sabino offers descriptions of a number of less-remembered courses Kennedy traversed, many of which no longer exist. One of those that both men appreciate was Long Island's famed Lido Golf Club.
Kennedy is one of the Met Area's least known and heralded golf heroes. Sabino paints a lasting portrait of this exceptional sportsman who considered his obsession "just a little hobby." Thanks to the author for casting light on a remarkable feat that – unlike the records held by Jack, Jim, and Kathy – is at least theoretically possible for every Tom, Dick, and Mary.