The following is an E-mail from Douglas Jewell of New Jersey telling about the golf course at the Kenilworth Lodge Country Club with the following: “I happened to have worked at the golf course the last year it was in existence (1971-72). The Roses’ from Newton, Massachusetts owned the golf course. I worked for the head golf pro Bob Baldassari.”
“Your column brought back memories of dressing up for dinner and interacting with those that worked in the kitchen, barber shop and salon plus the band members and local caddies. I’m now retired and am fulfilling my promise to return to Sebring someday. Sebring has changed but my memories from 45 years ago draw me back.”
“The golf course was a par 72, 18-hole course with each hole lined with orange trees, grapefruit and tangelo trees. At the end of their stay the visiting golfers would stuff their golf bags with fresh picked fruit to take home.”
“The golf shop crew consisted of Bob Baldassari and assistant pro Ron Pedi, starter/caddiemaster Jim Talley, myself running the bag room and the practice range. The local Vollbracht sisters, Myra and Debbie shining shoes. There were no days off in the four month season.”
“My favorite caddies were the Harris Brothers 86 and 84 years old, both deacons. They were rippled with muscles and fit as 20 year olds. They both worked at building many of the original roads back in the 1920s.They told tales of being “snakers,” meaning they went ahead of the road builders gathering up snakes in burlap bags, often wading up to their armpits in the swamps. And tales of men being sucked up by quicksand never to be seen again.”
“There was quite a rivalry between Harder Hall and Kenilworth golf courses. The head pro at Harder Hall was Ben Roman Victor. He was also part owner. There was a lot of one upmanship at Alex’s Circle Bar downtown Sebring as we (the staff) from both hotels were all regular diners there. Each hotel wanted to get the most famous pros to play at their golf course. The PGA tour and golf pros were in Florida in January and Feb and race week was in March. It was race drivers and celebrities that were vied for and bragged about. It was good natured competition as we were all friends and played together. But the rivalry was always there between the two hotels.”
Bill Norcross a Boston transplant writes: “PGA Golf Pro Billy Max was assistant at the Kenilworth or Harder Hall golf course. I believe it was in the 60s when the PGA Golf Pros Tour came south every year.”
Kenilworth Lodge Country Club as it was called and Harder Hall were both located in Sebring. The third course is in Avon Park noted Bill Norcross. “Pinecrest had the first live broadcast PGA golf tournament. Also a PGA executive course and a Pro from Rhode Island (Bruno) who lived there.” Pinecrest Hotel was taken down a few years ago. Today it is the Pinecrest Golf Club.
Douglas Jewell and Bill Norcross contributed to this column.
Elaine Levey can be reached at email@example.com.