Getting cut from his junior high baseball team seemed like the worst day of John Falcone's life some 40 years ago in Westerly.
It turned out to be one of the turning points in what has become a successful and rewarding career in the golf industry.
Falcone took up golf after his time freed up without baseball practices. He played at Pond View and Winnapaug before getting a job at Point Judith Country Club and earning MVP honors twice for the golf team at Westerly High.
After playing golf and earning a management degree at Virginia Wesleyan, Falcone has made his living in golf. Today, he enters his 20th year as director of golf at prestigious Dunedin (Fla.) Golf Club, a Donald Ross-designed course that opened in 1927 and was the original home of the PGA of America.
"I would say just being a golf professional in general is a great way to make a living," said Falcone, the son of Sam and Rose Falcone who grew up on Narragansett Avenue. "Maybe the ultimate job would be if I would be a golf professional close to Rhode Island."
Falcone may long to be closer to home, but he works at what he calls a special place.
"The first 11 PGA Senior Championships were held here in Dunedin," Falcone said. "It's a historical place that back in the day was the mecca of professional golf in the '40s through the '60s."
After working for five years as a golf pro in Westchester and another Florida golf club, Falcone secured a job at Dunedin. He's parlayed his management, teaching and playing skills to earn the following awards and distinctions over the years from the North Florida Section PGA: 1996 Merchandiser of the year, 2011 Golf Professional of the Year, 2011 Player of the Year and 2018 Senior Player of the Year.
Though he's won a number of personal accolades, he lists two other highlights among his top achievements.
"Two of the most rewarding things I have done at Dunedin Golf Club are bringing 11 USGA national qualifiers to the club, including six U.S. Open qualifiers," Falcone said. "The other is starting the Gabriela Falcone Foundation [buying wheelchairs for the underprivileged] for the Shriner’s Hospital, and raising enough money to get in their gold book. We also started running celebrity Pro-Ams at the club."
On the course, Falcone has won his share of tournaments and match play events.
In early May, he won the North Florida PGA Senior Match Play championship in dramatic fashion at Hammock Beach in Palm Coast, Fla. Down three with three holes to play, Falcone won the final three to force extra holes. Falcone finally won in seven extra holes to capture the title.
It was the first senior major of the season.