Cocoa Beach Country Club Golf Pro Holly Gregory Has ‘Magical Ability to Correct Defective Golf Swings’
By Larry Guest // October 26, 2019
LARRY GUEST: Golf Really Can be a Four-Letter Word
Over the last several years, I came to the conclusion that golf really can be a four-letter word.
As my earlier proficiency at the sport came to erode during the transition into my golden years, my golf swing developed hiccups, jerks and loop-de-loops in my effort to simply swing harder to overcome my loss of distance.
The result was not a return to those lower scores, but rather, sadly, a breakdown of my on-course behavior.
My mounting frustration with myriad chilly-dips, skulls, water balls and other embarrassments manifested themselves by sending misbehaving 5-irons, 3-woods and putters into whirling flight and screams so profane they stripped the bark off nearby trees.
The sight of me approaching on the course had panicked mother squirrels protectively holding their paws over the impressionable ears of their young.
The game that was once a low-handicap pleasure and self-pride had become an exercise of pure mental torture. Long accustomed to shooting in the mid-to-high 70s, I found myself struggling to break 90. Previously, if I failed to break 80 I’d pout for a week. Suddenly, breaking 90 would send me knocking on nearby homes to share the great news.
Then a friend suggested I take a lesson or two from Holly Gregory.
Holly is a rare bird of sorts given that there are very few female golf club head pros. The ones I knew about were usually former LPGA Tour pros, whose fame landed them a club job after their playing days faded.
Holly landed her position at the public Cocoa Beach Country Club through hard work and an uncanny, magical ability to correct defective golf swings. Almost instantly.
After just one 30-minute session with her, my average scores came down a good five strokes. A week later, I enjoyed the wonderful experience of shooting my age, a feat not often enjoyed by aging amateurs, whose scores tend to rise faster than their birthdays. I shot my age with a stroke to spare — a 76 right after I turned 77.
Don Cassidy, an 83-year-old regular at Cocoa Beach CC, typically shoots in the low-80s. When his scores start to rise, he seeks out Holly for a tuneup.
“I’m amazed how she can watch me take just a couple of swings and get me right back on track. She’s magical,” he gushed. “Now I’m knocking the pee out of it!”
Cassidy now regularly attains that holy grail of shooting his age.
Holly grew up in the small town of Shelbourne, Vermont, near the town’s public golf course. She earned spending money as a caddy when just 12, but had little interest in playing at that time.
In high school, she competed in basketball and field hockey. Then after graduation, she married a golf club pro and took up the sport more as a teacher than a player.
“I spent most of my time raising a family,” recalls the mother of three. “Much later, when I moved part-time to Florida, I spent two years teaching golf in Vermont in the summer and Cocoa Beach in the winter.”
She became fascinated with the mechanics of the golf swing and enrolled in the exhaustive LPGA teaching pro program, earning her Class A card. On the very day that Princess Diana was killed — 21 years ago — Cocoa Beach CC general manager Dave Manning hired Holly as head pro “because he got to know me over that 2-year period that I was a hard worker.”
She’s been there ever since, managing the golf shop merchandise, checking in golfers, overseeing the cart operation, the course upkeep and giving lessons. For eight years, she also volunteered as girls golf team coach at Cocoa Beach High School.
Her teaching now includes individual lessons and two regular Saturday morning group sessions, one for women, followed by one for young girls. Her office reflects the satisfying fruits of her labors, the walls admirably cluttered with dozens of student photos and heartfelt thank-you notes.
Several from the girls’ group have gone on to make their high school golf teams and one, Delia Timpy, now plays on the golf team at Eastern Florida State College.
Younger sister Olivia Timpy is progressing toward even greater heights, says teacher Holly. What she really cherishes, though, is the progress she sees in the faces of the adults she has helped tackle this difficult game. “I just want them to improve and know the joy of playing golf.”
That’s what she restored for me, belatedly. And the mother squirrels are thankful.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Larry Guest is among America’s most respected and well-known sports columnists and book authors. He was a long-time editor and lead columnist at the Orlando Sentinel, a three-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year and best-selling author of “ARNIE: Inside the Legend,” “The Payne Stewart Story,” and several other sports-related books.
As a true journalist, he never steered away from controversy, for he always thought he owed his readers the truth.
Guest now lives in Cape Canaveral, Florida, with his wife Mary and was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame last May for his distinguished journalism career.
Below, you can enjoy Guest’s Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame tribute profile and video:
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: A three-time winner of the Florida Sports Writer of the Year award, Larry Guest for almost three decades served as the voice of sports for the Orlando Sentinel, where he was the newspaper’s syndicated lead sports columnist.
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME – There are plenty of sportswriters, but only a few true sports journalists who can go beyond the statistics to the heart of the athletes. Larry Guest is one the latter.
A three-time winner of the Florida Sports Writer of the Year award, Guest for almost three decades served as the voice of sports for the Orlando Sentinel, where he was the newspaper’s syndicated lead sports columnist.
The Washington Journalism Review listed Guest among the top 25 sportswriters in the nation.
During his tenure with the Sentinel, Guest covered 25 Masters’ Tournaments, a dozen U.S. and British Opens and half a dozen Olympics, plus many Super Bowls, Kentucky Derbies and Final Fours.
He didn’t just write about sports, he embedded himself in them, making personal friends with legends such as Payne Stewart, Arnold Palmer and coach Bobby Bowden.
“I always felt it was my responsibility not just to cover the story, but to connect with the athletes,” said Guest.
Nicknamed “Scoop” by the late Payne Stewart, Guest loved nothing more than to break local and national sports stories, a penchant made possible by the close professional and personal relationships he formed through years of unbiased coverage of sports headliners.
He learned from reading the very best, the work of the late Los Angeles Times Pulitzer-winning sportswriter Jim Murray.
“He was the king of sports columnists,” said Guest, who, like Murray, peppered his writing with humor about the idiosyncrasies of the players and their sports.
Just like Murray, Guest expanded beyond the boundaries of the newspaper page to books, seven of them.
His best-selling biographies include “Arnie: Inside the Legend” and “The Payne Stewart Story.” With sports executive Pat Williams, he wrote “Making Magic: How Orlando Won an NBA Team.”
In “Sports Icons “R Funny!” Guest reveals the humorous inside stories of sports superstars.
Guest began writing on sports at the then twice-weekly Brookhaven Leader Advertiser in Mississippi, where he grew up.
He developed as a writer as the paper expanded into a daily, allowing him the opportunity to cover stories such as the New Orleans Saints in their infancy.
The executive editor of the largest paper in the state, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, saw his work and liked Guest’s lighthearted but heartfelt coverage of sports and offered him a job as sports editor.
The Orlando Sentinel later scooped him for their own and there Guest remained until his retirement in 2000.
As a true journalist, he never steered away from controversy, for he always thought he owed his readers the truth. If he could put a smile on his readers’ faces while reporting on sports news, so much the better.
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