Orsi elected to Conn.'s PGA Hall of Fame

By Gavin Keefe
Published on

NEW LONDON, Conn. -- Jim Orsi has dedicated his life to golf.

He's been heavily involved with the sport ever since he can recall.

Now he's being honored for his contributions.

He found out last month that he's been elected to the Connecticut Section PGA Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place on Monday, Nov. 30, at Lake of Isles in North Stonington."

"I was very excited," Orsi said of his reaction when he heard the news last month. "I really didn't expect it."

Orsi, who lives in Waterford with his wife Janet, never expected to make golf his full-time career. Growing up, he caddied at Shennecossett Golf Course in Groton and eventually began doing odd jobs for pro Del Kinney.

It was the start of a long and enjoyable journey that included spending 33 years (1955-1988) as a golf professional at New London Country Club in Waterford, which is now Great Neck Country Club.

"It was really quite an experience because it kind of was an accident how I got into the game...," Orsi said. "The late Del Kinney was the pro (at Shennecossett). When Del had lessons, I used to shag balls for him and he let me hang around the shop and I did odd jobs.

"After three or four years, he got an offer from New London Country Club to become the head pro and he accepted. One day when I was at the golf course, he asked me if I'd like to join him as his assistant. I gladly said yes."

When Kinney left NLCC, Orsi took over as head pro.

Orsi thrived in his job. In 1969, he was named the Connecticut Section PGA Professional of the Year. He filled the role of secretary of the Connecticut Section for nine years (1962-1971) and wrote for the PGA Magazine for three years. He's a PGA Life Member.

He never expected to stay there that long.

"I guess I enjoyed what I was doing there," Orsi said.

During his tenure, he saw tremendous growth in the club and in the sport. It was a nine-hole course when he arrived.

"When I got there, the club was small and golf was getting more popular and more people were joining," Orsi said. "It got to the point where they had too many members and had to stop membership. It was really packed."

After leaving NLCC in 1988, Orsi and his wife moved to Florida. They played a lot of golf and Jim worked part-time at Emerald Dunes in West Palm Beach.

Six years ago, they returned to Connecticut full-time to be closer to family. They've learned to deal with the harsh winters. They visited Great Neck last year and came away very impressed.

Orsi will celebrate his 88th birthday on Sept. 28. Health issues are temporarily preventing him from playing golf.

"We're going to have a little family party for him," Janet said. "Believe me, he'd love to be out there playing golf right now if he could. ... He really loves the game and he dedicated his whole life to the game of golf, so it would be nice if he could get out there a few more times."

Other inductees are Tony Kelley, who's in his 30th year as golf pro at Wyckoff Country Club in Holyoke, Mass., and former Black Hall pro Tim Gavronski, who's his 14th year as head pro at Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington.

This article was written by Gavin Keefe from The Day, New London, Conn. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.