The New England Senior Golfers’ Association boasts a long and storied history. While many of our members distinguished themselves in golf or other pursuits, the NESGA membership has been comprised of men who appreciate golf and the people who make up the game. At its inception, the New England Seniors was fortunate to have a strong leader. Julius Maxwell, an advertising executive was one of the incorporators of the NESGA. He served as the first President of the association, and remained as its President from 1922 to 1938. He was able to successfully lead the association through the Great Depression. While many golf clubs and similar associations, failed, Mr. Maxwell was able to lead the NESGA through this troubled period. Another of the distinguished gentlemen who were instrumental in the growth of the NESGA was George Wright. Mr. Wright was a member of the Woodland Golf Club who was part of the early discussions, which preceded the formation of the New England Seniors.
Elected into the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937, George Wright was a standout shortstop in professional baseball’s early years, winning 4 championships between 1872-1875, playing for the Boston Red Stockings. After retiring from baseball he entered the sporting goods business and established the firm of Wright and Ditson which sold golf and tennis equipment. Mr. Wright served as an incorporator of the Seniors and served on the Board of Governors. In 1934, Mr. Wright proposed having a “tournament within a tournament” a special competition specifically for men who have celebrated their 80th birthday. Thus, the Gold Star division was born. Mr. Wright later was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Among the first class of five Gold Star members were former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and United States Senator Frederick Gillette, Congressman Alexander Treadway and George Wright himself. Gillette is still the only person to be Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and a popularly elected member of the United States Senate. Mr. Gillette hailed from Westfield, Massachusetts and Mr. Treadway from Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Mr. Treadway was the proprietor of the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge.The Post World War II period saw tremendous growth in the association, and membership exploded from 220 to 400 by 1970. A call was made to initiate more events, and this expansion launched the schedule the NESGA currently has. The association grew from a single championship event to hosting an event in the Summer, later one in the Fall was added, to the point where we now have five separate events throughout the season. In 1948, the NESGA saw a familiar youngster of join their ranks when Francis Ouimet became a member. Mr. Ouimet remained a member until passing in 1967. He was a regular participant in its competitions. He also served the association as a member of the Board of Governors and ultimately as First Vice President. Mr. Ouimet was never able to capture the championship of the association. It is said that he appreciated the collegiality of the association and appreciated the opportunity to socialize with so many old associates at the NESGA events. When approached about becoming President of the NESGA, he demurred stating that there were other men who had served the association in a more meaningful capacity. The NESGA had another great name added in the 1960’s, that of Bishop. Leon Bishop joined the organization and soon became a force in the association, serving on the Board of Governors as Tournament Chairman officer and as President of the NESGA. He later served as the first Executive Secretary of the association where he handled the daily duties of the association, selected the tournament sites and set the handicaps for members (pre computer time). Leon was joined in the NESGA by his brother Stanley E. (Ted) Bishop in 1967. While Ted overshadowed Leon in their younger days, Leon won the championship, while Ted was never able to enter the winner’s circle at the Jarboe. However, Ted won numerous amateur tournaments, including three Massachusetts Amateurs and two New England Amateurs, with his biggest win being the 1946 U.S. Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. Ted also played on the winning Walker Cup teams in 1947 and 1949.
The focus of the NESGA has always been the annual championship, named in 1961 after Perron C. Jarboe. To single out Perron Jarboe would be to shortchange the caliber of play displayed by several of its champions including Roy Moore, Owen Shiro, Fordie Pitts, John Mercer, Gael Coakley, all who won three or more championships. The New England Senior Golfers’ Association in 1998 established a Charitable Gift Fund to give back to golf. Since that time monies have been distributed to students and junior golf programs have been supported. In 2011, the John A. Casey New England Senior Golfers’ Association scholarship became an endowed scholarship under the auspices of the Francis Quimet Fund. The Charitable Gift Fund has annually makes donations to the Widdy Neale Scholarship Fund (Ct. Golf Association) The John Burke Scholarship Fund (Rhode Island Golf Association) The Richard McDonough Scholarship (New Hampshire Golf Association) and the Maine Golf Association scholarship fund and the Vermont Golf Association scholarship fund. Donations are also made to the First Tee of Massachusetts and the Button Hole Golf Course in Rhode Island to help promote junior golf and help grow the game.
The NESGA looks forward to the future while being respectful of its past.