SEEKONK – Firefly Golf Course certainly fits the definition of the word “unique.”
What other golf course in the area plays to a par of 60 and measures just 3,644 yards? Only Firefly, an executive golf course that was designed and built by women’s golf legend Joanne Carner and her husband Don Hoenig back in 1962.
“Joanne and Don lived here and owned the course,” Firefly manager Keith Alcock was saying last week. “Joanne was an amateur golfer at the time. She won five U.S. Amateurs while she was here. She got bored and turned pro and ended up with more USGA golf titles than Tiger Woods. She lives in Florida now. I talked to her a couple of years ago over the phone when she was playing a senior tournament on the Cape. She really wanted to come over and see the place but they had a rainout that prevented her from coming.”
Firefly has had its ups and downs over the years due to changing ownership. Alcock said those days are over.
“The course is in the best shape it has been in over the past 10 years,” he said. “The greens are running at about a 10 on the stimp meter. Not too fast and not too slow.”
Firefly continues to host the annual state Par 3 tournament that brings in many of the best amateur players in the region. Cranston’s Bobby Leopold won the 2011 tournament. Rumford’s Garrett Medeiros won it the year before. Over the years, champions have included Paul, Dana and Brett Quigley along with Billy Andrade.
“In 50 years, the winning score for the Par 3 has been under 60 only seven times,” Alcock said.
Firefly, which is located next to the Grist Mill restaurant on Fall River Avenue, features 13 par 3s and five par 4s.
“We get a lot of junior players and a lot of seniors,” Alcock admitted. “I started a program for kids last year that allows them to play unlimited golf for $10. It’s a good way to attract young golfers. And we’re getting more and more of them.”
Alcock played his college golf at Bryant University. He is a teaching professional who offers lessons at the golf course while also running the day-to-day operation of the facility.
“I started playing golf when I was eight years old,” the Pawtucket native said. “I can’t remember when golf wasn’t a big part of my life. I grew up in Pawtucket and then we moved to North Attleboro. I was lucky enough to play golf as often as I could. And that’s why we offer our unlimited golf program for kids. When I was young, we used to pay one fee and play all day. It’s a good way to attract young players to the game.
“Firefly is also a good golf course for kids to play because we have so many par 3s,” Alcock said. “But we get all levels of golfers. It’s a pretty unique golf course.”