Nancy Chaffee, one of this state’s all-time greatest golfers, may have taken the shot of her storied career on a recent Monday morning.
Ironically, Chaffee – who plays out of Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington – didn’t even pick up a club or iron for that high-powered shot off the first tee at Swansea Country Club.
Instead, Chaffee – with her husband David and friends Greg Corso and Steve Carlotti looking on – held an “Air Cannon” she was handed by Swansea CC staffer Derek Borden, pulled the trigger and watched her golf ball blast into the air towards the first green.
“Now that’s what you’d call unique,” said several of the 60 or so golfers who played in the first-ever Out Lady of Grace Church Tournament and awaited their turn at the first tee referred to the “Air Cannon” which was actually used to determine the golfer who came closest to the win.
While the “Air Cannon” was a first for OLG’s initial golf go ‘round, so was each and every one of the countless prizes the all-volunteer committee presented to winners during at conclusion of the 18-hole event which was played in memory the late golf professional Fred Bruno, whose sister Carolyn Najmowicz co-chaired the event with Norman Bessette.
“On a beautiful day in late June, we found ourselves on the golf course raising funds for the work of this church,” Rev. Peter J. Gower, the popular pastor of the Roman Catholic parish in Johnston, observed. “Our first annual golf tournament was a great success due to the volunteers of our parish.”
One of those players was the OLG priest – a.k.a. Father Gower – who played the 18-hole event dressed in Bermuda shorts and a shirt and in a three-some with his sister Marie Gower and Caitlin Marino.
When asked how he fared on the course, Father Gower replied, “We had over 60 players sign up and enjoyed the weather while striving for the best score in hopes of winning an award. After working up and appetite, we all enjoyed a surf and turf dinner during the wonderful awards ceremony.”
No, the popular priest didn’t figure in the so-called money – a.k.a. prizes – that went to the winning foursome of Joe Desautel, Bill Wall, Jason Adams and Charlie Vachon. Second place went to the foursome of Jon Smith, Paul Acciardo, Craig Fisher and Dan Cregan while the third-place winners were Tom Hoagland, Spud Whitney, John Newcomb and Jack McCaughey.
“I’ve never played in a (golf) tournament that had so many different prizes,” noted Joe Grasso, whose foursome featured the talented chipper Joe Piccardi, Steve Wilcox and Mark Rausio. “There’s a fire pit, wine glasses with golf balls, gift baskets, the committee certainly did a great job.”
As first-time golf tournaments are concerned, the bottom line – as the old adage goes – is the beneficiary of the date’s proceeds.
“We really appreciate that so many people turned out to support our parish,” Father Gower wanted it known. “We’re hoping for another great event next year, as well.”
Few people, if any, would dispute that OLG’s first ever attempt at hosting a golf tourney was par excellence. The course conditions were great, the staff at SCC was extremely accommodating and the prizes, as people noted, “were amazing.”