A New Englander's Take on Golf
September 20, 2023
Anthony Adelizzi and his beloved dog, Summer, are at home when surrounded by golf.

Golf is at its best when creativity is employed.

To watch a player manipulate a ball, flighting it low beneath tree branches with a deft bend so that it slides between bunkers and runs up a slope toward a pin placed at the back right of a green – just as it was envisioned – shows the power of imagination.

Often, such skillfulness is captured by the TV cameras and our entertainment buds offer thanks.

But there are other instances of imagination that take place away from the spotlight that deserve our admiration. Consider, for example, those who not only imagine a golf world that is so inclusive it accommodates a young person with autism but are willing to devote their time and energies to make it happen.

Offer applause to David Wilson and Brock White, Bob Miller and Zach Sweet, Joe Onstott and Colin McGuire, men with deep souls in a crowded field of golf enthusiasts who are committed to seeing the hero of this story, Anthony Adelizzi, succeed.

“He’s just an exceptional young man,” said White, who is Director of the PGA Golf Management program at Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C. “As a PGM program, we want to help get him to where he wants to be in the golf world.”

Where Adelizzi hopes to be some day is a Class A golf professional, specifically as a club-fitter. Where he currently is situated is Fayetteville, N.C., a junior enrolled in the PGM program at Methodist University. But it’s where he was some 20 years ago that puts this heart-warming story in motion.

At 5 years of age, John and Dianne Adelizzi’s only child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He was still non-verbal and while “I was just too young to understand,” Anthony said he had a good sense of his surroundings.

“Kids wouldn’t play with me. I knew I was different from the other kids.”

You shouldn’t need to strain your memory muscles too much to comprehend the challenges that faced Adelizzi. But you should take a moment to give thanks to the unheralded folks who care so much about the game that they want to nurture a passion that is as pure as Anthony’s.

Bob Miller, a respected PGA professional on Cape Cod, where Adelizzi lives, poured his everything into mentoring the young man’s golf game. John Adelizzi, a solid 6-handicap, made it his life’s mission to let his son play the game as much as he wanted. And as Anthony grew into a strapping young man far advanced from the non-verbal days, he made it clear that he had one wish.

He wanted to make golf his career. “And lucky for me,” said Anthony, “Bob Miller was in my life.”

Working his network of friends, Miller helped steer Anthony to The Hyannisport Club where he had an interview with Wilson, then the head golf professional.

“When we got his resume (for a part-time job in the summer of 2018), Anthony was very open about his autism,” said Wilson. The day of the interview, one thing struck the head pro right away – John and Dianne introduced themselves, then turned and headed out of the pro shop. This was all on Anthony; he was taking ownership.

“Andy Lane (a Hyannisport assistant) was with me for the interview and within a minute we both agreed we had to hire this kid.”

Ernie Els and Anthony Adelizzi at the Ouimet dinner.

Everything about working at Hyannisport and later for Cape Cod National’s head professional, Sweet, a Methodist alum, strengthened Anthony’s resolve to make golf his life. The dream became more plausible when after graduating from Cape Cod Community College, Anthony was accepted into the PGM program at Methodist.

“He’s a phenomenal student,” said White. “His attention to detail is remarkable. He wants to get everything right.”

In April of this year, the stars aligned in such a forceful way that you were reminded once again that there is magic at work in golf.

At its annual banquet, the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund was honoring Ernie Els for lifelong contributions to golf and nothing gets to the heart of the big South African’s philanthropic nature quite like what he and his wife, Liezl, started in 2009: The Els For Autism Foundation, a massive charitable undertaking, is responsible for the Els Center of Excellence in Florida, a world-class site that hosts programs and services for individuals with Autism.

Who better, then, to be the annual Student Speaker than Anthony Adelizzi?

“He made us proud,” said Colin McGuire, executive director of the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund. “People in the room of 2,000 were inspired and so many (who are impacted by autism in their families) came up to me and said Anthony gave them hope.”

Onstott, a member of the Ouimet Fund’s Board of Directors, endows a scholarship in memory of his late son Kevin, an assistant superintendent killed tragically in a golf-course accident in 2004. That scholarship, as well as five others, was presented to Anthony Adelizzi who learned that evening that he would have no school debt; the Ouimet Fund announced it would add another scholarship to cover his unmet needs.

“There were so many connections,” said Onstott. “Like Anthony, Kevin went to Methodist and that was important.

“And I was moved by the sacrifice his parents make (John and Dianne both retired and are with Anthony in North Carolina during the school year and summers on the Cape). They are special people.”

As Anthony Adelizzi forges his way, the reasons to smile are many. His GPA is 3.9 and he is on a mission to pass the PAT (player ability test). “I try to play every day, as much as I can,” he said. “It’s homework.”

Added Wilson, now a career consultant with the PGA of America: “He can really hit it. He’s got a great compact swing, so balanced.”

What has changed, but only slightly, is Adelizzi’s career focus. Fitted for clubs at Titleist’s Manchester Lane facility, he was fascinated by the care and attention that was provided to him by another Methodist alum, Chris O’Rourke.

“Anthony called me and told me he wanted to be a club-fitter,” said Wilson. It makes sense, too. Dealing with TrackMan technology and the multitude of numbers plays to Adelizzi’s strengths.

“Anthony excels in delivering the experience, and it shows people that there are so many different ways to have a job in the golf industry.”

Indeed, it does. But when you have a parade of caring individuals who share a passion for golf and a commitment to inclusion, that message comes across louder and clearer.

* * *

> To view a video that introduced Anthony Adelizzi’s story at the Ouimet banquet, click on this link:


> And to watch Anthony’s speech to 2,000 guests, click on this link:


"Power Fades" will not be published next week. It will return Oct. 4.


I have a passion for playing golf that is surpassed only by my passion for writing about people who have a passion for playing golf, for working in golf, for living their lives around golf. Chasing the best professional golfers around the world for The Boston Globe, Golfweek Magazine, and the PGA Tour for more than 20 years was a blessing for which I’ll be eternally grateful. I’ve been left with precious memories of golf at its very best, but here is a takeaway that rates even more valuable – the game belongs to everyone who loves it. “Power Fades” is a weekly tribute with that in mind, a digital production to celebrate a game that many of us love. If you share a passion for golf, sign up down below for a free subscription and join the ride. Should you have suggestions, thoughts, critiques, or general comments, feel free to pass them along. And for advertising inquiries, you can contact me.


Jim McCabe

1 – To paint or not to paint

It’s Solheim Cup time and the question is: Do we really need face paint in golf?

2 – Close your eyes and imagine

Should you need help, ask yourself this: Could you picture Tiger Woods or Ben Hogan in face paint?

3 – Where are we?

So, are these fall tournaments the end of the 2023 PGA Tour season? Or are they the start of a new season? Or are they a hybrid season?

4 – Step back, study, then admire

Eric Cole was the best story on the PGA Tour in 2023.

5 – Positive thoughts

You know you’re playing well when you use the ball washer before a tee shot over water.

6 – If it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing

I suspect Justin Thomas’ every step, every breath, and every shot during the Ryder Cup will be analyzed as if it were crucial evidence in a crime against national security.

7 – Never turn away a two-shot guy

Nothing says “give me him as a partner” than someone who can exclaim “that’s a 5 for 3” on a par 3.

8 – We have no reason to point fingers

After this hideous Summer of ’23 can we all take an oath to never again make fun of the weather in Ireland and Scotland?

9 – Sure sign that a swing is doomed

It’s arguably not the most productive swing thought, but often times at the top of my backswing mine is: “I have two towels for my golf bag, so why did I leave them both in the trunk?”


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