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Batting fourth for Taconic

Looking for a career, need to make a career change or looking for your ideal job? Good luck to you on that endeavor. Besides qualifications and recommendations, you may also need some good fortune and most importantly, timing.
If coaching Division 1 basketball is your dream, I hope you haven’t  been waiting for the Duke or Syracuse jobs to be posted.

If you wanted to play shortstop for the New York Yankees, I hope you have been patient the last 18 years.

Bob Hurley, hoop coach at St. Anthony High School of Jersey City, has been on-the-job for over 39 years, and after 26 state titles, I don’t think he is going anywhere soon.
There are also some iconic positions, where one is successful at them, you fall into a long line of predecessors that makes you easily identifiable with that job.
Y.A. Tittle, John Brodie, Joe Montana and Steve Young make up the list Kyle Kaepernick wants to join as San Francisco 49-er legends at quarterback.
Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Bernie Williams roamed center field in the Bronx for over 50 years.
Dallas Cowboys QB, middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears, any linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, left fielder for the Red Sox and center for the Celtics or Lakers are examples of positions that could qualify you for legend status.
Here is another job that has to carry the same kind of clout on the local level in Berkshire County: head golf professional at Taconic Golf Club.
If you want to list the head professionals in the history of Taconic, you will not have to refill your inkwell. If you need some help here you go: Dick Baxter (1924-1962), Rudy Goff (1963-1983) and Rick Pohle (1984-2012).
That’s it, that’s the list!
Beginning in the spring, there will be a new face behind the counter in the Pro Shop, and that will be Greenfield native and former professional at Berkshire Hills Josh Hillman.
“We had a strong field of over 70 applicants, and we are very pleased with our selection,” Taconic President Steve Pagnotta told The Beacon.
Hillman spent a few seasons at Taconic working under Rick Pohle and assisting him with the very successful Williams College golf program before taking the Berkshire Hills position and will also take over the duties of head coach at the college in the spring.
The members at Berkshire Hills are sorry to lose him, but anyone who has been involved with Hillman’s career over the years is exited for him, including 25-year PGA professional John Demko of Crumpin Fox Club: “Josh picked the range for us, washed range balls, caddied and helped in the shop here at the Fox starting at age eight. A great kid who worked hard to not only develop his  golf game but also his understanding of the business side of golf, they certainly chose a quality individual, and he will do a great job.”
Ron D. Beck , director of golf for the three Fox courses, added, “I remember the look of focus and determination on Josh’s face when he was just eight years old hitting balls on the range at Crumpin Fox.

“Those two qualities, combined with Josh’s commitment to serve the game that served him so well, have deservedly brought him to the helm of one of the elite golf clubs in America. The membership at Taconic should have every confidence their best interests will be in mind as Josh Hillman steers the ship.”

Jack Varley, a longtime friend and follower of Hillman’s career at the University of Rhode Island (which included Jim Salinetti of Lee and Joey Pohle of Williamstown as teammates), recalls an announcement at one of URI’s matches that Hillman was leading all Div. 1 golfers in the country in fairways hit.

Varley, a former assistant at Rockaway Hunt, added, “I remember him carding a 29-34-63 at Taconic, and last year, he had eight birdies in a tournament at Crumpin Fox. I don’t think anyone doubts his playing ability.”
Your Beacon scribe has known Hillman since the bag he carried was bigger than he was. Like most juniors at a club filled with older members, Josh either played alone or had to hook up with some codgers and be polite. We can only be thankful he worked on his own swing and did not emulate any of ours.
Regardless of his age, he did not hesitate to enter every event he could at the club and he learned to take his lumps.

“I still have nightmares of getting thrashed by Chet Kugler 9-8 in the match play tournament when I was 14; I think I only made two bogies, but I was giving too many strokes; it was a long walk back to my bicycle,” Josh recalled.

Welcome to net golf. I hope he never played too many net matches at “The Hills,” or his son’s (Jacob) college fund would certainly have taken a serious hit.
Hillman’s philosophy on golf could be ascertained when he answered an inquiry regarding  his experience on the signature eighth hole at “The Fox.”  The par-five no. 8 measures between 568-592 yards and has water the entire length of the hole on the left side. At some point, you have to hit it over the pond to reach the green. 
Beacon: How old were you when you reached that green in two for the first time?
Hillman: I was 16.
Beacon: How many times did you fail before that, thus donating a Titleist to the pond?
Hillman: Just about every time I played it.
Translation: he was not a stubborn Tin Cup type of player, but a player who was going to test his abilities on every shot. His first of eight career holes-in-one came when he was 15 on no. 15 at The Fox.

“I cut a four iron in to a front pin on a windy day,” he said, proving besides being a talented player, he also has a great memory.
Hillman lives in Williamstown with wife, Angie, and son, Jacob. The Beacon tracked him down customizing his golf shop during the Dec. 27 blizzard. It would have been a dangerous commute to his old Pittsfield shop, but I got the feeling  he would have crawled to his new Meacham Street office if he had to – after all, he has a job to do.
If folks think that club pros have the winter season off, they should follow Hillman around. There are meetings at Williams and dealing with sales reps and media requests, along with getting down and dirty with a wrecking bar and paint rollers as he puts his personal touch on the golf shop and bag room at Taconic.

He also has to deal with his remaining inventory at The Hills and Rick Pohle’s at Taconic, while putting together his golf staff for the upcoming season.

“I love the action, to say that I have hit the ground running would be an understatement,” Hillman said. “To be a part of the Williams College community and a shrine like Taconic Golf Club is a great opportunity for me and my family. I am grateful for the challenge to carry on the tradition established by fine people like Rick Pohle who always had the needs of the membership as priority one.” 
If you are of the belief that good things happen to good people, the people at Williams College and Taconic Golf Club certainly confirmed your beliefs. 
Hillman will get advice and suggestions from a lot of folks in the upcoming months, so Lary of Lenox decided to get in on the act early: “If you have to put a new roof on your house and the choices for shingles are the 30-, 40- or 50-year guarantee, go for the extra few bucks and go with the 50. History tells us that you won’t be going anywhere soon.”

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Posted by on January 24, 2013. Filed under Berkshire Sports Guy,Columns,Opinion,Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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