senior men’s golf club marks half century
Like anyone celebrating a golden anniversary, the Mt. Lebanon Senior Men’s Golf Club has seen a few changes since 1964. Mt. Lebanon residency was originally a condition of membership; the club had 26 charter members and the dues were $4. Now, anyone 55 and up can join, and the 118 members pay $25 in dues. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the camaraderie among members and their love of playing golf.
“I had played a little golf while I was still working,” says club president Dave Green, “But not with any regularity, and I wanted to get connected with an organization that would give me the motivation to play more frequently.”
That motivation is one of the many things the Senior Men’s Golf Club supplies. Members play every Wednesday morning from early April through early October at the Mt. Lebanon Public Golf Course and once a month on a Monday at various 18-hole courses throughout the region. Supplementing the matches are a variety of other events, such as the spring tee-off banquet, a summer picnic, and an awards dinner at the end.
The Mt. Lebanon Senior Men’s Golf Club was organized in 1964 by the Mt. Lebanon Golf Pro Wally Grant with assistance from M. “Red” Meyer and Art Brown. Grant had been the Mt. Lebanon pro since 1941, when the course was the Castle Shannon Country Club. It was sold to the Stevenson-Williams Co. in 1947; Mt. Lebanon purchased it the next year. Brown served as the club’s first president from 1964 through 1966.
Virginia Manor resident Gino Bongiorno joined the club when he retired in 2000. “It’s a nice way to get out and meet people, and to have some social activities,” he says. “I like the game of golf so much, and it gave me the opportunity to make a definite schedule to play. I know I can play a round every week, barring problems with weather.”
One of Bongiorno’s best memories of playing with the club was when he had a hole-in-one. “It was at Mt. Lebanon, three or four years ago, the first hole, a par three. A lot of guys play all their lives and never have one.”
Cornell Place resident Jim Ferguson is one of those guys. “No holes in one,” he admits, “and I’ve been playing for 66 years. But I’ve won match play tournament (with the club) several times, and made it to the finals this year. This summer we played in Butler and I shot my age: 78.”
Ferguson has been a member since 1994. “In 1992 I quit smoking after 40 years,” he explains, “and my wife said, ‘You’ll need to get some exercise.’ I hadn’t played golf in 15 to 20 years, but I went back to it in 1993. The next year I joined the ‘geezer league,’ as I call it.
“I’ve met a bunch of really nice guys,” Ferguson says. “I’ve had terrific partners over the years, and I did not know most of them before. Our first foursome played together for 10 or 11 years.”
Dick Lerach, Flintridge Road, has been a member since 2003. “I had retired and I wanted to play more golf, and the organization conveniently permitted me to play more, and with people I already knew.” He served as president in 2009, and was an officer for four years prior to that.
He appreciates the consistency of the club’s schedule. “You know you’re going to play regularly every Wednesday morning, and every three to four weeks we travel to a different course, which is very interesting—we get to see a lot of places.”
A committee meets to decide which courses to play the following year. They try to play at least one new course each year. “We have some all-time favorites. We almost always start out with Chippewa in Beaver County,” Lerach says. “I think we went to eight or nine different places this year.”
The golf, the friendships, and the activities are what the Mt. Lebanon Senior Men’s Golf Club has been about for 50 years.
“The most important thing is that I’ve made some new friends,” Green says. “I can think of about half a dozen people whom I now regularly play golf with that I didn’t know before this. And I would emphasize that I think this golf course is an important asset to the community and we’re very fortunate to have it.”