John Marion from Norwich Golf Club was elected as the CSGA’s 58th president at the association’s 111th annual meeting at Ridgewood Country Club on December 4, 2012. Marion replaced Jeffrey T. Witherwax, Heritage Village Country Club, who led the CSGA as president in 2011-12 and will continue with the association in his role as Director, Rules Education.
Recently the CSGA sat down with Marion to discuss his thoughts on being elected as president of the CSGA, his introduction to golf, and the future of the association.
CSGA: How did you first get into golf?
Marion: Growing up in rural Agawam, Massachusetts, I did not have any thoughts about Golf until, in my teens, a golf course was built on part of a neighboring dairy farm. My father decided that he needed my services more than the golf club so my caddie career never happened. Fast forward to 1972 when I attended a business meeting at Banner Lodge, Moodus, CT. After the meeting ended, I was invited by my boss to play a round of golf. I had to respectfully decline but proceeded directly to the practice range to try for the first time at age 28 to swing a club. I was hooked! The following year having read some golf history, practiced and played, I was able to accept the invitation to play with the corporate executives.
Discuss your involvement with Norwich Golf Club?
In 1979 I joined the Norwich Golf Club and began competing and getting involved in organized golf. After serving in various positions, I was elected president in 1997 for a three year term. Retirement in 2001 left me with lots of time to enjoy golf.
How did you become involved with the CSGA?
In 2003 I started getting involved with the CSGA. For the second time I became hooked. This time, however it was in helping at tournaments. I had been very involved (and still am) with the Norwich Invitational which the Norwich Golf Club has run since 1926. The CSGA offered me several opportunities. First they made it possible for me to learn the Rules and in 2006 become a Rules Official. Later that year Bruce Guthrie (CSGA President 2003-04) asked me to join the Executive Committee as secretary, telling me that “it would only involve a few meetings”. Countless meetings later I was chosen to lead the organization. It is truly an honor and I look forward to serving.
Do you have any hole-in-ones?
If so, how many? Two both at Norwich. 1985 the 230yd 15th hole using a driver (my first swing of the day in a scramble) (Dan Boucher my favorite Pro put in the paper that I used a 4 wood) 2005 on the 110yd 13th using a pitching wedge which I actually backed up two inches in the hole.
What is your most memorable round of golf?
In 2010, along with Carl Stockwell (CSGA President 2005-06) managing to hold our lead after a summer long round robin, to win the Norwich Centennial League Senior Division which included the formidable team of Stan McFarland (current CSGA Vice President) and Ron Drapeau (CSGA Executive Director 2006-11).
What is the most memorable ruling you were involved with during a CSGA Championship?
At the 2012 Junior Championship as referee for the Eddie Hill vs. Dave Dell Jr. first round match. On the 19th hole Mr. Dell hooked his tee shot left, then hit a provisional after Mr. Hill landed in the fairway. When we had searched for four minutes, I announced that only a minute remained to find the ball. Mr. Dell had started toward his provisional when Mr. Hill found his original ball with 10 seconds remaining. It was gratifying to witness this display of sportsmanship by a young player.
What would you like to see more of on the course?
Families and mixed leagues.
Do you see any part of the game of golf that needs change?
While changes are inevitable as time passes, I am reluctant to advocate for any changes. I prefer to help educate golfers on the rules and help them to realize that the rules help more often than penalize.
What would you tell a junior or non-golfer to interest them in the game of golf?
Golf is the game of life. You are given a set of rules to follow and tested not only on physical ability and talent but more so on honesty. It is a challenge which you can enjoy your entire lifetime.
You are only the second CSGA president to come from Norwich Golf Club (William G. Park in 1960-61), how does that make you feel?
Since joining the Norwich Golf Club in 1979, I have studied it's history and consider my being able to serve the CSGA an honor not only for myself but for the entire membership.
In 114 years you are only the second CSGA president to come from a public facility. Discuss your thoughts on this topic and the changing landscape of the golf industry?
Clearly the leadership of the CSGA in 1998 had great foresight when they acted to restructure the organization to face the changes they saw coming. Making private and public clubs equal has strengthened us and allowed many individuals who are dedicated to the game participate in the leadership.
Do you have any goals/expectations you would like to see the CSGA meet during your presidency?
To maintain the exceptionalism of our volunteer program and encourage more dedicated individuals to join our cause. Also to work hard to maintain the high standards set by past presidents.
Do you have any other comments or words of encouragement for the CSGA, its members, or volunteers?
Thank you! Your support and willingness to help is what makes the CSGA the great organization it is.