Shooting Stars at Granite Links
GOLFING WITH THE STARS... in Quincy
BY STEVE ADAMS
The Patriot Ledger
QUINCY - Bill Russell and John McEnroe teed off here. Boston Mayor Tom Menino and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi dropped by for lunch. On any given day, it’s not unusual to spot players from the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics or Bruins swinging drivers and 9-irons.
How did Quincy’s Granite Links Golf Club emerge as a go-to spot for Hub sports stars and politicos?
Location, location, location.
‘‘It’s a beautiful course, it’s easy to get to, and it’s the closest course to Boston,’’ said Dusty Rhodes, president of Conventures, a Boston-based event coordinator.
Actually, Presidents Golf Course in Quincy is a slightly shorter drive on the Southeast Expressway. But Rhodes’ point is well-taken. Now in its fourth year of operation, Granite Links, a hilltop course with postcard views, has become a waypoint for local and visiting athletes and celebrities looking to squeeze in 18 holes.
Attracting professional athletes was not part of any strategy, said Diane Brickley, Granite Links’ membership and marketing director and wife of Bruins broadcaster Andy Brickley. Word of mouth among players, many of whom live a short drive from the West Quincy course, is what did the trick, she said.
‘‘The first handful found their way to us and the word spread,’’ Brickley said. ‘‘It’s a location that’s just incredibly convenient.’’
Granite Links, which had about 200 members last summer, has about 300 now. New members pay a $27,500 initiation fee. The annual dues are $4,800.
The course also offers a per-day option.
Local sports franchises have put Granite Links on the short list of off-day destinations for their players.
On Sept. 3, a video crew from the Boston Celtics trailed rookie Glen ‘‘Big Baby’’ Davis as he accepted tips from the course’s director of golf, Chris Sleeper. Davis returned Wednesday with teammate Eddie House in tow.
Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson, one of several Patriots who live at Quincy’s Marina Bay, e-mailed Granite Links General Manager Walter Hannon III last week to ask about golf lessons.
‘‘He wants to hook up with one of the pros,’’ Hannon said. ‘‘He admits he’s an awful golfer. He’s a beginner, but he wants to learn.’’
Hannon said employees try to protect the privacy of high-profile players.
‘‘We try not to maul them when they’re up here. I didn’t even go over (when Davis visited) because there were enough people over there,’’ he said.
Yet the club isn’t playing down its high-profile clientele. A graphic on its Web site lists recent VIP visitors, from former Boston College and Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie to former Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant.
‘‘When I got wind of how many (well-known) people were coming by, I said, ‘We have to share this. That’s fun stuff,’’’ Brickley said. ‘‘Everybody loves a brush with celebrity.’’
The course also has become the haunt of local entertainers including actor Mark Walhberg, comedian Lenny Clarke and Dropkick Murphys bass player Ken Casey.
NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell played a round earlier this summer when he visited Boston.
As the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center attracts more major trade shows, Granite Links will attract corporate VIPs, Conventures’ Rhodes predicted. The course is nine miles from the 1.7-million-square-foot meeting hall.
Some of the state’s top political figures have ventured across the Neponset River to dine in the club’s restaurant, The Tavern at Quarry Hills. Former House Speaker Thomas Finneran often comes in for lunch after his WRKO radio show, Brickley said.
Still, golf remains the biggest draw.
‘‘This is a challenging course, and these are competitive guys,’’ Brickley said. ‘‘Some of them may even be surprised ... that the course wins the first time. That makes them want to come back.’’
Spotted at Granite Links
—Actor Mark Wahlberg
—Quarterback Doug Flutie
—Celtics coach Doc Rivers
—Mets manager Willie Randolph
—NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell
—Actor Andy Garcia
—Tennis great John McEnroe
—Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield
—Bruins legend Ray Bourque
—Babe Ruth’s daughter Julia Stevens
—WRKO talk-show host Tom Finneran
—Dropkick Murphys bassist Ken Casey
—Comedian Lenny Clarke
—Red Sox legend Bobby Doerr
Steve Adams may be reached at email@example.com .
Copyright 2007 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Friday, September 21, 2007