‘Godfather of Golf’ Set to Retire
LOWELL -- Gene Manley hasn’t played a single hole of golf since 2007, but he plans to put an end to that drought in the not-too-distant future.
Manley, who has been the head pro at Long Meadow Golf Club for the last 22 years and has worked there for 37 years total, will retire at the end of the year.
His last day is Dec. 31. The 68-year-old, whose name is synonymous with local golf, said he had made up his mind a while ago that this would be his final year. On Monday, a memo was sent to club members announcing Manley’s retirement.
“It’s just time to move on and start playing golf again, go to the beach and enjoy life and the sunshine, while I still have good health and my memory,” said Manley. “It was a great run, Long Meadow is a big part of my life. The members were surprised; I got a million nice text messages.”
Manley will remain living in Lowell and plans to still spend plenty of time at Long Meadow. The three-time winner of the prestigious annual Lowell City Golf Tournament (1985, 1989, 1991) will have ample time to rediscover his old form. The Cities began in 1923 and only seven players have won the event more times than Manley.
“It’ll be like the old days, I’ll be playing 90 rounds of golf a year,” Manley said.
Manley was extremely dedicated to his position at Long Meadow. It was common practice for him to be at the club by 6 a.m. and put in 12 hours in a day, especially during the summer. In his estimation, there just simply wasn’t enough time to fit in a round of golf for himself here or there.
Manley looks forward to not having to set a curfew for himself.
“I won’t have to worry about being home at night at a certain time because I won’t have to be at the club at 6 a.m. anymore,” he said.
Before becoming head pro, Manley served as assistant pro for 10 years. Before that, he caddied at the club for five years. Considered a true golf historian, particularly as it pertains to the Lowell City Golf Tournament, Manley is the go-to person in the area if you have a question about the sport.
“If you asked me, I would consider him the godfather of golf in the local area,” said Joel Jenkins, the head pro at Mt. Pleasant Golf Club and the head golf coach at Billerica High. “He was a well known player who became a well known golf pro. I’m really happy for him. He helped me a lot with my transition once I got to Mt. Pleasant. He’s done so much for golf in the Lowell area.”
The club hasn’t announced who will be taking over for Manley. Whoever it ends up being will have the difficult task of replacing a local legend.
“To say that (Manley) will be missed is an understatement,” said Long Meadow Secretary David Flanagan Jr. in the club memo. “Gene has faithfully served the club in many capacities for decades and we thank him for his unrelenting commitment. Not only has he been our Club Pro but he’s also been Club President, Club Champion and Lowell City Champion. He’ll always be our club’s historian, our biggest promoter, and our friend. We will miss his needling ways with the microphone, another skill where he has no match. The Board of Directors wishes him great health and happiness in his retirement.”
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