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Williams College B&G Golf League Marks 50th Season

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Sports
10:45AM / Thursday, September 04, 2014
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The Williams College golf league marked its 50th anniversary this year. See more images of play here.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — It is about 6 p.m. on the last evening of the season for the Williams B&G Golf League.
 
On the course, the last foursomes are finishing up their nine-hole rounds. In the clubhouse, the drinks and the jokes flow easily as some of the league's most veteran players reflect on the its first half century at Taconic Golf Club.
 
"You're getting a lot of junk for your article," retired coach Renzie Lamb remarks, using a more colorful word than "junk."
 
Around the table across from the bar are gathered representatives of Williams' athletic, facilities, information technology and admissions departments — a small sample of the 50 or so players who participated in the 50-year-old league this summer.
 
Ask those players what makes the B&G League special, and one theme keeps popping up again and again.
 
"It brings various constituencies of the college together," Lamb said, turning serious for a moment. "That's the most important thing. It's good for the college."
 
"The league gives us the opportunity to meet people from other departments," league treasurer Peter Landry said. "You meet faculty, administration and staff."
 
That was the goal of the league when it was founded in 1963 by Pete Welenetz and John English, then the director of Williams' Building and Ground Department and secretary of the Alumni Society, respectively.
 
"[English] and Pete Welenetz were the spark plugs who got it started," said journalist Thomas Bleezarde, who worked with English, also the college's public information officer. "They saw a lack of interaction between the faculty, staff and Buildings and Grounds workers.
 
"B&G employees were not in a position to join [Taconic]. ... [English and Welenetz] wanted to do away with the feeling that B&G employees and other college employees were second-class citizens.
 
"We really have been carrying on that tradition."
 
The original bylaws of the league specify that it was open to all full-time employees and retirees of the college as well people "actively engaged in business with Williams College upon application."
 
Bleezarde said the original intent was to go beyond the college community and build "town-gown" relationships as well. Today, there are a few regulars drawn from college contractors, but most of the players are either Williams employees or retirees.
 
Husbands of women who work for the college are also eligible to play in the men-only league. There have been women's leagues at the college over the years, including one that played on Monday nights on one half of Taconic while the B&G played the other nine.
 
The B&G League plays on Monday nights from May through the end of August or beginning of September, depending on the year.
 
League membership has gone from a high of about 60 down to about 30 at one point, Landry said. This summer, there were regular league members with about two dozen alternates who were available to fill out foursomes in any given week — of that number, about eight actually played.
 
The good news for the 2014 season was the arrival of a handful of first-time players.
 
"We hope that young kids can come along and keep this going," Lamb said.
 
Michael Newton, an IT specialist who arrived at the college two years ago, was drawn to the league right away.
 
"It's a tough course," Newton said. "I'm still learning."
 
In addition to the fellowship, the league offers an opportunity to play Taconic, which in 2014 was ranked 39th on Golf Magazine's list of "Top 100 Courses You Can Play."
 
"The course brings people in," said Lamb, who started playing in the league in 1968. "We have a great reputation."
Part of that reputation is the challenge Taonic presents.
 
"You learn how to play," Landry said. "Either your game gets better or you quit."
 
He said only about a third of the league's regulars are members at Taconic. League members pay an annual dues and $19 per week to play nine holes at the club.
 
"You're not going to play anywhere for $19," league president Jim George said.
 
Players are grouped by handicap and assigned to foursomes by the league. The goal is to get groups that represent a cross-section of the college work force.
 
On Tuesday, the B&G League held its playoffs and season-ending banquet. Bruce Decoteau of the Facilities Office won the A Division on a tie-breaker.
 
"It's just a way to get together after work and get to know people and have some fun," he said later in the clubhouse.
 
Williams' director of admissions, a nearly 30-year veteran of the league, agreed.
 
"It's the only way to blend faculty, staff and Buildings and Grounds together," Richard Nesbitt said.

Tags: golf,   summer league,   Williams College,   

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