A New Englander's Take on Golf
May 18, 2022
"Who's got it better than us?" Fran Farrell used to say, and when it involved a dance with his mother, Annemarie, or time with his family, he lived by that statement,

It never is a bad thing to be connected to a confidant who is saturated in humility. Especially when the world in which you are immersed begins to feel overrun with overinflated egos that sadly think they have starring roles in The Big Picture.

The crazy thing, though, is that Fran Farrell – a prince of a man who died May 10 after having brought beauty and a sense of calm into a world that desperately needs it – was more a confidant and friend after he stopped being a boss. Not that he chose to stop being the CEO and President of Turnstile Media Group which included that frenzied little corner of the golf universe that was my home, Golfweek magazine.

No, it was fate that intervened in 2012 and forced Fran from our small shop of passionate and talented people who loved golf, lived golf, debated golf, breathed golf.

One might suggest that there was the matter of his ALS that required diligent attention; my take is, he wanted to use every minute of what remained in his magnificent life to commit more energy to loving his place and helping those around him understand and appreciate theirs.

That was one of the many glories of Fran. His embrace of life went beyond the office, the work, the grind, and he was determined to show us how much more there was to this earthly world.

“He had a unique lens that he saw things through,” said John Farrell, one of nine children, and four sons, born to Dr. Joseph and Annemarie Cowhig Farrell, who raised this marvelous family in Pittsfield, Mass.

Good gracious, how Dr. Joseph and Annemarie must have had a magic formula, using Fran and John as measuring sticks. Hugely successful, the both of them – Fran in the publishing world, John as Director of Sports at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, S.C. – my guess is, neither of them could spell the word “I.”

On those times when my Golfweek assignment would be the PGA Tour tournament at Harbour Town, Fran would gush about his younger brother. When in John’s company, he’d generate conversations with every employee who’d walk by and drop hints as to how proud the family was of Fran’s career.

The thing is, Fran’s remarkable run as an executive with publications such as Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, The Sporting News, National Geographic Adventure, and Men’s Journal was never used to foster his ego.

The time he presented an award from TSN to Michael Jordan? His family found out about it, but not from Fran. When he chose not to use his position at Golfweek and spend company money to get himself into pro-ams and those chic cocktail parties with golf’s movers and shakers? It cut to the heart of the man.

“He was anxious to get home (the night of the trophy presentation to Jordan) to his family. Those weren’t the wins that sustained him. He got his buzz in other ways,” said John.

Fran’s departure was a shock to us in 2012. It came at a time when the entire print world was being re-imagined, and in my view we were being left without a captain who had two hands on the wheel, plus a calm demeanor, and a quiet confidence.

Sizing up my fears the last time we ever talked in person, Fran basically said that quality would always be in style, that passion was a virtue. Then he added, quietly and assuredly, that it’s always good to enrich your soul and add depth to your life.

Of that, he was an expert; Fran, married for 38 years to Denise and the father of five, was a man who biked, who hiked, who skied exquisitely, who played golf, and loved the ocean. Great strength and massive determination allowed him to live as he chose and for all those times when Fran needed more nourishment, he had his faith and his daily devotionals.

Knowing that about him and that “his professional life is what he did, it wasn’t who he was,” as John said, my emails to him in recent years – far too few, shamefully – were never about golf or golf-writing. Faith, family, and sincere thanks for those great times at Golfweek were pretty much the topics that united us.

It was a marvel to know that Fran used an eye gaze-controlled tablet to read and to respond to emails. Always, his responses were beautiful, his curiosity piqued about the lives around me.

“He was,” said John, “a good listener.”

If you want the embodiment of family love and Fran’s endless quest to touch your soul and remind you of his mantra – “Don’t let anyone have more fun than you” – consider what Wednesday nights have been for the last 18 months: A zoom session for Fran and his eight siblings.

Laughter was shared weekly. Fran would challenge his siblings. Devotions were read. The family met via Zoom again on May 11, “but we had an empty seat at the table,” said John.

Fran Farrell, who personified courage and dignity, had died the night before.

It prompted a search for something by which to remember him, the last email he sent my way. Responding to my thanks for all he meant to my career and to the inspiration he had been, Fran singled out my reflections about the challenges of parenthood and the turbulent roads on which that task takes us.

“Even the most wonderful parents aren’t promised painless lives,” he wrote. “Exhibit A is the Pietà. But all of us who accept Christ’s support, have it. And we muddle through! Hopefully with far more happiness than rough stuff.”

It's a powerful image from a mentor in golf and a friend in life.

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” will be 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. And should you have suggestions, thoughts, critiques, or general comments, feel free to pass them along.

Cheers, Jim McCabe


Jim McCabe | May 18, 2022

U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP: Unable to find finishing kicks when needed, the teams of Mike Calef and Nick Maccario and Joey Lenane and Aidan O’Donovan were both ousted in the second round of match play in the national tournament at the Country Club of Birmingham in Alabama. From a starting field of 128 two-man teams, Calef (West Bridgewater) and Maccario (Waltham) finished tied for 15th at 9-under 132, as did Lenane (Dedham) and O’Donovan (Somerville) as only 32 pairings advanced to match play. The first round went swimmingly for both Mass Golf teams: Calef-Maccario won, 4 and 3; Lenane-O’Donovan came back to prevail, 1 up. The Round of 16 was a different story as Torey Edwards and Bret Parker jumped to a 2-up lead through five holes and never trailed, defeating Calef-Maccario, 3 and 2. Lenane-O’Donovan trailed by just one hole through 10 when they struggled at the par-3 11th and made double-bogey to fall 2 down. They would cut it to a one-hole deficit with a win at the 12th, but they lost the par-3 13th and got beat, 2 and 1, by Chip Brooke and Marc Dull. A substantial playoff at 133 – 10 teams for the final 9 spots into match play – nearly involved Patrick O’Leary of Milton and his former teammate at Pennsylvania, Ben Cooley. But their 66-68 effort for 134 missed the playoff by one.

QUINNS SHINE AT TACONIC: It was eight years ago when Fran Quinn Jr. played in the last of the 71 PGA Tour tournaments currently on his resume. But what a memory it was as Quinn opened the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 with a 68 to sit in second place. He shared the spotlight with his caddie, then 15-year-old son, Owen. “My friend, my buddy,” Fran smiled as he spoke to reporters. OK, so there’s a long way to go, but on Tuesday, Fran, now 57, and Owen, now a professional golfer himself, planted the seed to a possible reunion for them at this year’s U.S. Open at The Country Club – only as competitors. Tossing down contrasting rounds (32 then 40 for Owen; 39 then 33 for Fran), father and son had 1-over 72s to earn two of five spots that were available in a U.S. Open Local Qualifier at Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown. Sam Goldering of Florham Park, N.J., Class of ’20, returned to his alma mater and a course where he played for the Ephs to shoot level-par 71 for medalist honors. Adding even more Quinn flavor to the mix, Ethan Whitney of Westminster, who plays at Temple for coach Brian Quinn, Fran’s brother, eagled the first playoff hole to get through a 5-for-4 affair. The fifth spot went to CC of Pittsfield head professional Eric Mabee when he made par against three bogeys. Mabee and Whitney had finished in that logjam at 73.

MORE U.S. OPEN TRACKING: If you’re thinking the name sounds familiar, there’s good reason. Roland Massimino is the grandson of the famed Villanova hoops coach and he’s trying hard to make a name for himself in golf. Massimino shot 71 to earn second alternate honors at a U.S. Open Local Qualifier in Cherry Hills, N.J. Massimino, 25, play his golf at Kansas State and will be playing this summer on the PGA Tour Canada . . . . . At Hammock Dunes in Florida, Steve Marino shot 69 for medalist honors. Skip Kendall (76) and Luke Guthrie (76) failed to advance . . . . . David Pastore of Stamford, Conn., shot 70 and got through at Manhattan Woods GC in West Nayack, N.Y. His brother, Paul, shot 76 and didn’t advance. Neither will Brookline native James Driscoll get a chance to play in a real “hometown” U.S. Open as he shot 77. Ron Philo Jr. also shot 77 . . . . . In Orlando, Manny Villegas, brother of Camilo, was among those who shot 67 for medalist honors as they led the advance. Daniel Chopra lost in a playoff at 68, Will Dickson of Rhode Island missed with a 71, and Ian Poulter’s son, Luke, came home in 78 . . . . . In Albany, N.Y., among those getting through were Bryan Adkison, who plays out of Granite Links GC in Quincy. He shot 71. Matthew Cowgill of Weston (74), Herbie Aikens of Pembroke (76) and Eric Boulger of Walpole (76) failed to advance . . . . . In Maricopa, Ariz., Preston Summerhays advanced with a 69 . . . . . In Mesa, Ariz., former PGA Tour competitor Charlie Beljan shot 64 to make it through . . . . . Among those who failed to qualify at a site in Tenafly, N.J., was Golf Digest staff writer Daniel Rapaport, who shot 76.

U.S. WOMEN’S OPEN TRACKING: Breaking free from a close battle at the end, Yale University junior Ami Gianchandani used a pair of clutch birdies to shoot 71-69 and earn the one available spot at the qualifier at Worcester CC. The young woman from Watchung, N.J., will now be in the field at the national championship, to be held June 2-5 at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, N.C. Molly Smith of Vesper CC (70-72) edged Kaitlyn Lee of Scarsdale, N.Y. (69-73) in a playoff to earn first alternate status after they had tied for second at 142. Shannon Johnson of Thorny Lea GC in Brockton shot 145 and was fifth . . . . . Notable names who failed to get through at a site in Morristown, N.J., were Brittany Lincicome (75-75) and Megha Ganne (75-75) . . . . Former U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Gabriela Ruffles of Australia shot 139 to get through a qualifier in Madera, Calif. As an amateur, she finished T-13 at the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open.

U.S. SENIOR OPEN TRACKING: Billy Andrade shot 73 in a qualifier in Ball Ground, Ga., and won’t be part of the field at Saucon Valley June 23-26. John Huston posted 65 for medalist honors and Omar Uresti also qualified. Besides Andrade, the list of those who didn’t qualify at Ball Ground included Paul Claxton (69), Tim Herron (70), and Cliff Kresge (70) . . . . . At a site in Alabama, former PGA Tour winners Ted Tryba (74) and Jose Coceres (75) failed to get through.

CONDOLENCES: When Francis Ouimet enthusiastically gave his blessing to a scholarship fund in his name in 1949, there were 13 scholars honored. Bob McDonald of Needham was among them and it’s hard to imagine a more appreciative honoree than he. For the remainder of his life, which came to an end May 14 with his death at the age of 90, McDonald was an avid supporter of the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund. He is warmly applauded by his many friends and greatly appreciated by a legion of Ouimet supporters.

1 – Writing a headline is a lost art

Yes, I actually saw this headline: Tiger Woods Arrives at Southern Hills for PGA. My goodness, no kidding? Were they thinking that perhaps they’d do this major via Zoom?

2 – “That’s good”

I would imagine Strokes Gained: Gimmes is the most fiercely contested statistical category at most clubs.

3 – Say, shall we buy a Tesla or a few beers?

The story has been the exorbitant prices for PGA Championship concessions ($18 and $19 for beers, mixed drinks for $19, water for $6). The story should be whoever buys at those prices.

4 – Global blowing

Is it going to be windy every day?

5 – Fickle stuff

Usually when PGA Tour types rave about a course going into a major, it means 65 percent of them will hate it by Saturday.

6 – Psst, only kidding

How come Tiger Woods never gets invited to the past champions’ dinner at the PGA?

7 – Ah, lovely. Is that a pound?

Marking your ball with a foreign coin doesn’t make you putt any better. But the game is global, so give it a try.

8 – Sort of created his own mess, no?

Not sure that “feeling sorry for Phil” registers in the top 50 of emotions that should be extended to him.

9 – Who cares, it’s Thursday

You want silly, here’s silly. “Super Pairings” in Round 1. I give you one of the most historic majors of ‘em all, the 2001 Masters, because of what was a stake. (Fourth in a row by You Know Who.) Anyways, did Masters officials feel a need to pump contrived energy into the proceedings? No, sir. At 12:57 p.m., Mikko Ilonen went off with Mike Weir and Tiger Woods. I can assure you that 25,000 Finnish fans were there to follow Ilonen even though there wasn’t another Finnish golfer to pair with him.


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