There is an essence of golf that is deep and profound, though it comes in different complexions colored by personal emotions.
Golf might connect you to a grandfather who introduced you to the game, or perhaps you have always cherished the blanket of serenity it provides. To others, golf offers that chance to take lifelong friendships to the course well into the golden years.
But to the long and glorious line of golfers who entered the game with a bag strapped over a shoulder and a mentor’s voice offering guidance, here is a story to make you smile.
It involves a pair of gentlemen from the Boston area, Richard Connolly and Peter Lynch, who are giants in the world of financial services, philanthropy, and in forging legacies. Yet, what truly unites them is a passion for where it all began.
“I have said it for years, in group talks and in friendly circles, but the single best work experience in my life was when I caddied,” said Connolly, president of The Connolly Group at Morgan Stanley in Boston.
“I loved being a caddie,” said Lynch, who managed the Magellan Fund at Fidelity from 1977-1990. “There aren’t many jobs where you can have that much responsibility as a young person, and it’s so important.”
Now consider the public accolades that envelope these men. Connolly was well known for managing Arnold Palmer’s money for decades. Lynch needs no introduction within the world of Wall Street for leading what was the best-performing fund in the world.
Then add in the incomparable behind-the-scenes philanthropy that consumes both men.
Connolly’s charitable involvements have been extensive – from the Boston Symphony Orchestra to the Alzheimer’s Association to the New England Jesuits to the Children’s Medical Research Foundation benefiting Our Lady’s Hospital in Dublin where a wing is named The Richard F. Connolly Microscopy Centre. Today, Connolly is a Director Emeritus for the CMRF.
Lynch, who still serves as vice-chairman of Fidelity Management & Research Company, is deeply involved as president of the Lynch Foundation, which he and his late wife, Carolyn, formed in 1988. The foundation’s focus revolves around education, cultural and historic preservation, health care and wellness, and the religious and educational efforts of the Roman Catholic Church.
But to the benefit of so many young people who have reaped financial rewards, these brilliant whirlwinds of generosity – Connolly and Lynch – intersected with great vigor at the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund. Forever indebted to Ouimet scholarships that helped them attend Holy Cross (Connolly) and Boston College (Lynch), these titans of the financial sector have poured years of service back into efforts to maintain a level of excellence with this remarkable program.
When it was founded in 1949, the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund awarded 13 recipients a total of $4,600. Seventy-four years later, thousands of young men and women have been awarded Ouimet scholarships that total just shy of $50 million.
Color that incredible progress and should you suggest that Connolly and Lynch stand as testaments to golf's uncanny ability to instill integrity and character and to attract great people, few would disagree.
It speaks volumes to the magic of golf and the attachment so many former “loopers” have for their entry into the game that Connolly and Lynch – men honored in so many prestigious ways – were overwhelmed to find out they would be inducted into the Caddie Hall of Fame.
“It meant the world to me,” said Connolly, whose mother, Ruth May Doherty, was the only girl in a family of 10. “Her nine brothers, my uncles, were all caddies. That’s how it all started for me (at 9-hole Woburn CC).”
So proud of the honor, Connolly traveled with his entire family – wife Anne Marie, their sons Richard, Ryan and Kevin and their wives – for the Nov. 3 induction in Chicago. Overwhelmed at the manner in which the Caddie Hall of Fame administrator, the Western Golf Association, conducted the evening, Connolly studied the members who preceded him and felt blessed.
Oh, there are the longtime professional caddies who wore their nicknames like a badge of honor – Golf Ball, Squeaky, Pappy, Creamy, Fluff, Rabbit, Bones. There are the elite golfers who started in the game as caddies – Francis Ouimet, Chick Evans, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller. But so, too, are there impressive corporate names who caddied and never lost their love of the game – Eddie Lowery, Peter Ueberroth, Charles Schwab.
In other words, this is a quality membership, to be sure.
Clearly, the Lowery name resonates, being Ouimet’s caddie in that epic 1913 U.S. Open, and a kid from Boston who went on to great business success. A highlight in Connolly’s life was that trip he took to San Francisco, back when he was in the executive’s training program at Ford.
Lowery, one of the biggest car dealers in the country back then, had his office in San Francisco and Connolly figured what the heck? “I was 22 or 23, but looked 18, and I went to his office. No appointment, just on a whim.”
He was about to be turned away when Connolly told the secretary “to tell Mr. Lowery that I’m a Ouimet scholar from Boston and I just wanted to say hello.”
Seconds later, the gregarious Lowery came out of his office and welcomed his visitor. “An Irish kid from Boston, and a Ouimet scholar, get in here,” said Lowery.
“I think he would’ve given me the City of San Francisco if I asked,” laughed Connolly. “Just an incredible thrill for me.”
Coupled with his $300 yearly Ouimet scholarship, Lynch paid the rest of his $1,000 yearly BC tuition with his caddie money. Always intent to listen to conversations about stocks and investments, Lynch famously made a stock purchase with his caddie money as a BC senior, and when that tripled in value he had his tuition in full for his MBA at the heralded Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Golf courses are dynamic places,” Lynch told Sports Illustrated reporter Michael Bamberger in 2000.
Dynamic, indeed, especially for young men with a great work ethic and keen intuition.
Connolly cherished advice given him by men of the “greatest generation,” so many of whom had fought in World War II. “I was told to love my parents and I was put in a mindset to go to college and make a good living,” he said. “Being a caddie was the greatest education I got.”
Said Lynch: “I learned respect and I also learned what characteristics adults admired.”
It is folklore of the highest order when the story is told of Lynch, recently graduated with his MBA, going in for an interview with Fidelity where some 75 applicants were in line for just three openings. Only one of those 75, however, had often caddied for D. George Sullivan, the COO of Fidelity.
Yes, Peter Lynch got hired.
Which is much more than a footnote to this story about Hall of Famers in so many walks of life, caddies now added to the list.