SCARSDALE – Retirement has left Rick Vershure a little winded.
The former head golf professional at Quaker Ridge is now a renaissance man in soft spikes, filling up the downtime with a variety of new pursuits. It sounds like life has been pretty hectic since he left the shop last October following 27 years at the historic club.
After describing the new routine earlier this week, Vershure was nearly breathless on the other end of the phone.
“We’ve been out in California, so that’s kind of what we normally do in the offseason,” he said. “Except that I hadn’t read anything other than a golf book in something like 35 years, and I’ve already finished six or seven. I’ve taken up tennis and I’m taking a bunch of lessons, and it turns out my instructor out here is my wife’s old boyfriend, so that’s interesting, too. I’ve taken a bunch of art classes, I’m playing bridge and I’ve done a bunch of things I never would’ve done otherwise.”
There is time for golf.
Vershure shot his age in February at The Palms Golf Club in La Quinta, Calif., a month after he celebrated his 61st birthday.
“That was fun for me,” he said. “I got that one done early.”
Brian Gaffney, a past New Jersey PGA player of the year, was brought in from Rumson Country Club to replace Vershure.
“We sort of wanted it all when we went looking for a new head professional,” said club president Marc Friedman. “Brian has the overall package. He’s a great teacher. He’s played in four majors. He’s got a great way about him. Brian will fit easily into the fabric and family at Quaker Ridge, and I think it’s a bonus that he reminds the members of Rick.”
Vershure had aspirations of becoming a tour player while bouncing around the Met section as an assistant. He spent one year at Quaker Ridge under Jim McLean before getting a promotion. Vershure was in Johannesburg, South Africa, when a telegram came from McLean, who had left for Sleepy Hollow.
“Call the club,” it read.
McLean pushed for the hiring, but it was a calculated gamble by Quaker Ridge.
“Rick did have a few weaknesses,” said Met PGA executive director Charlie Robson, a longtime friend. “He was constantly forgetting clubs, forgetting shoes. Rick hired somebody to help support him in areas where he needed help, and then he married her.”
Maureen Vershure also became a fixture at Quaker Ridge.
“She handled the business end of the operation,” Vershure said. “I could teach and play and be with the membership. She was the one doing all of the hard work.”
Vershure often came home with oversized checks.
He was the Met PGA Player of the Year in 1987 and won everything from the Met PGA Head Pro to the New York State PGA to the Westchester Open to the Met PGA Championship. He was just as good on the lesson tee with the membership.
Vershure has no regrets.
“It was just time,” Vershure said of the decision to retire last fall. “I wanted to find out what else there was in life. There was no place I’d rather be a head pro than Quaker Ridge. … Maybe that will be my high-water mark, but I would never know unless I made this jump.”
This is a coveted job.
“It really pushes me to be a better golf professional,” said Gaffney, who has qualified for one U.S. Open and three PGA Championships. “After I played the golf course for the first time as the head pro at Quaker Ridge, I looked around kind of in awe, knowing that I was going to be working at this kind of a facility and hopefully growing old there.”
He and wife Allison have relocated to Darien, Conn., with their young sons. Getting to know the membership has been the main priority since they arrived. Vershure checks in from time to time in case there are questions.
And the former head pro will be in the area over the summer, playing and helping out at The First Tee.
“I almost hired Brian as an assistant 10 years ago,” Vershure said. “He’s a superstar.”
Gaffney will be making his Met PGA debut this week at the MasterCard Westchester PGA Championship, a match play event at Mount Kisco Country Club.
“The job has to come first, but the competition is something I enjoy,” he said. “The players in this section are really good, so I am interested to see how I stack up. The hard part is that everything I’m doing now is new. The members are new. The courses are new. The neighbors are new. There are lots of things I have to learn in the next year or two.”