LANESBOROUGH -- For 41 years, junior golfers in Berkshire County have benefitted from the vision of the late Gene Andrew.
The Berkshire Junior Golf Series, started by Andrew when he was the president of the Berkshire County Allied Golf Association, continues to give junior golfers a chance to experience tournament golf at the area's best courses for the bargain price of $10.
An additional bonus for four series participants -- thanks to series director John Marlowe, Fall Senior Golf Series founder Dick Rivers and The Gene and Peg Andrew Golf Foundation -- are $500 scholarships to help fund their college educations.
This year's recipients, who all gratefully accepted checks at a reception at Skyline Country Club on Wednesday night, had outstanding high school careers and plan to participate in intercollegiate athletics.
The honored foursome includes three 2013 All-Eagle golfers -- Ryan Grande (Pittsfield), Matt Lawrence (Drury) and Jared Fadding (Lee) -- and Danielle Lapierre (St. Joseph), who spent most of her final two seasons as the Crusaders' No. 1 player.
"It's really great and I'm very grateful," said Grande of being one of those selected to receive the financial boost.
Grande is headed to MCLA where he will play baseball -- he also made this year's All-Eagle baseball team as a pitcher. The former General plans to major in sociology.
"I enjoy golf, but I enjoy baseball the most," said Grande, who is pitching for the Berkshire Americans 18-and-older team this summer. "It's college and I want to make good grades, so I don't want to be overwhelmed [by playing two sports].
Lawrence, the All-Eagle MVP after leading the Blue Devils to their first Western Mass. golf title in 20 years, is headed to Division II Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H. He plans to major in mass communications.
Lawrence hasn't played much tournament golf as he prepares for college tryouts, prefering to practice, practice and practice at Stamford (Vt.) Country Club -- his parents own the course -- and Taconic Golf Club.
"I've been working on my short game the most and on trying to hit it longer," said Lawrence, who is no stranger to perseverence and hard work. Under coach Don Dagnoli, the Blue Devils went from winless to the county's best team in four years.
"We were 0-15 the first year and I think we lost two matches last year," Lawrence said.
Fadding will attend Division III UMass-Dartmouth and play on the golf team. He plans to major in engineering.
"Luckily, Mr. Marlowe selected me for the scholarship," Fadding said. "Anything that helps pay for college is great."
While Fadding has cut back on tournament play over the last month, prefering a strong practice routine, he captured a tournament in the Northeast New York PGA's Junior Series against strong competition earlier this summer. Coming off a season when he broke 40 in all but one match, the Corsairs are likely to like what they see.
Lapierre, meanwhile, will play for the Sacred Heart Univer sity's Division I wom en's golf team. But there's one big tournament before heading to Fairfield, Conn. She team med with her father, Paul, to win the Junior Division of the Mass achusetts Golf Asso ciation's Father and Daughter Champ ionship last summer. This year, they are moving up to the senior division (daughters 17 and older). The tournament is Thursday.
"Hopefully, she will carry me," said dad.
Danielle says she has been making some swing changes, but that "it's getting better every day."
In awarding the scholarships, Rivers, a member at Skyline who has been involved with junior golf since Andrews got the golf ball rolling, asked the foursome to remember how they were helped along the way and to give back to the golf community themselves some day. He also pointed out those -- he should have been pointing at himself, too -- who have set a high standard in helping introduce kids to the game.
"Gene had a vision 43 years ago and started the series 41 years ago. Think about that -- the First Tee program is only 10 years old. And John [Marlowe] has been doing this for 22 years and has done a great job."
"The clubs are still very generous in letting us play at their courses and the seniors in our fall series are also very giving," added Rivers. Funds raised from 50/50 raffles during the seven-tournament, 50-and-older series go to the Gene and Peg Andrew Foundation's scholarship fund.
To contact Richard Lord:
or (413) 496-6236.