Game Changers

How Golf Can Shape a Family’s Future

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Published on
Golf has connected Andre, Joey and Vinnie Manginelli, PGA.

Golf has connected Andre, Joey and Vinnie Manginelli, PGA.

When I received the email that our theme for July was Families in Golf, I was caddying for my younger son Joey as he played in his first golf tournament. 
He’s 17 and played baseball for the past 10 years. My older son Andre was on the course at the same time, as they vied for the Ulster County (New York) Men’s Amateur Golf Championship, known as “The Herdegen.”
As I considered some PGA Professionals to write about with a family theme, my own story seemed like a great place to start. 
Rounds with dad turn into lifelong passion
My golf story started when I was 12 and my dad started playing golf with our neighbor. They’d play most Saturday and Sunday mornings at the local nine-hole public course, and it wasn't long before I started playing, too. Having had dreams of playing 2nd base for the Yankees someday, I ended up falling in love with golf early on. We’d play some other local courses and I’d hit plastic golf balls around the apartment complex where we lived at the time. I wanted to play all the time. 
I played amateur golf in my 20s and continued to enjoy the game in college and as I started my career in banking and financial services. While working in Manhattan, 9/11 got a lot of us “rethinking” what we wanted to do with our lives. Who wanted to go back to school? Who planned to leave the city? I decided to pursue a pretty major career change. I looked into the PGA and careers in golf and decided that I’d trade my view of the Chrysler Building for one of green grass and tranquility. 
Manginelli at the 2019 PGA Championship.
Manginelli at the 2019 PGA Championship.
I passed my Playing Ability Test on the second try and attained PGA Membership in 2006. After working as a PGA Head Professional at several golf courses, I decided to marry my two loves — golf and writing — and now write full-time for several websites and golf publications. I also coach my local community college golf team.  
Andre grew up at green grass golf courses and played in high school and college, representing his school at the NJCAA D-III National Championships. He’s been a very good amateur golfer in our area for years and finished third in the county championship last week. He works for PGA Professional John Durcan Sr. at his family-owned Par 3 course, driving range and indoor simulator studio and continues to love the game. Golf is often the glue that keeps us close as he has gone from child to teen to adult. 
Manginelli with son, Andre.
Manginelli with son, Andre.
Joey is far more complicated. 
As mentioned, baseball was always his destiny, as we traveled the East Coast playing baseball tournaments, and spending money on hotels and equipment. He’d play a round or two now and again to appease his brother and me but did not enjoy it. 
He got a job working at Wiltwyck Golf Club for PGA Professional Trevor Alexander last year and basically took to the game like I did when I was 12. Something just clicked! When he’s not working at Wiltwyck, he’s practicing or playing at Wiltwyck. My sons and I play at Durcan’s indoor simulators throughout the winter, a Ranger hockey game or Knicks basketball game playing in the background. 
A few days before the qualifier, we headed out for a practice round. Joey hadn't broken 80 before but posted a 78 that day. With a boost of confidence on qualifying day, he posted a 74 and took 7th place out of 60 players. He was in the tournament and excited and motivated for his first competitive golf event.
As we prepared for last weekend, we were a busy family for sure. Round 1 was on the morning of Joey’s high school graduation. He played great and put up a stellar 76 on the par 70 Woodstock Golf Club, home of PGA Professional Chris Sanger, fresh off his appearance in the PGA Championship in May. Andre posted a 71 and was in 2nd place after the first round.
Day Two was at Apple Greens Golf Course, a fun 27-hole public facility that hosts a lot of rounds of golf, but somehow maintains its pristine conditions. With me on the bag again, Joey posted yet another career low of 74, beating his big brother by two strokes for the day.  
As we sat in the pavilion and watched the scores come in, it became evident that we might have a situation. Could these two brothers possibly be paired together in the third and final round? Well, of course, they were, Andre in 4th place and Joey tied for 6th. 
A family affair at The Herdegen
We headed to Wiltwyck Golf Club the next day, Joey’s workplace and the club that Andre had been a member of for several years. We were the second to last group of the tournament and I was on Joey’s bag once again. 
Manginelli with sons Andre (second from left) and Joey (far right), and their fellow competitor in the final round.
Manginelli with sons Andre (second from left) and Joey (far right), and their fellow competitor in the final round.
Sparing you the shot-by-shot play-by-play, Joey birdied the first two holes of the day, but finally found adversity with a 9-over eight-hole stretch mid-round, putting up a hard-fought 82 to secure a T9 finish. His big brother posted a stellar one-over 73 to secure 3rd place, his best Herdegen finish to date after having two top-sevens previously. 
Their mother and grandmother came out to see the end of the event. Joey’s girlfriend Emma, who took up the game just last year, played during her senior year this spring, and qualified for Sectionals, came to the course straight from her own high school graduation party that we had to miss. We sat at the ceremony, three generations of Manginelli’s. I'm sure my dad was there in spirit. 
In the years to come, the numbers themselves won't matter as much. Joey wants to play for me next year at the State University of New York — Ulster and is considering going to Coastal Carolina for the PGA Golf Management University Program. Andre, ten years his brother’s elder, continues to play the game, love the game, and work in the game. But now, he can play with his little brother when their dad is too busy writing about the great game!

As the memories fade, what the game means to us as a family won’t. It’s the topic of many late-night conversations, the reason for many early morning alarm clocks, and the source of many, many hours of time spent together, me and my boys. 

My father might be surprised to see what he started when he took up the game back in 1982. He shaped the future of his son and grandsons without even knowing it. And what a special legacy to leave.