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For Mickey D, not golfing is not an option

At 94, he still relishes every moment on the golf course.

By KELLIE DIXON, Times Staff Writer
Published January 9, 2008


HUDSON

His name is Dominic DeMariano but to everyone at the Links Golf Club, he's known as "Mickey D."

The 94-year-old New York native is a fixture at the golf course where he hits balls three times a day, works as a starter on Sundays and plays with the Moose Lodge league.

If you've ever ventured out to the Hudson golf course, chances are good you've talked with him. But if you haven't, there is one thing you should know: Don't play him for money.

"All he does is hit the ball straight down the middle," said club member Bruce Platt, a New Port Richey resident. "Don't play him for money. He'll beat your brains out."

Mickey D, who once had a 7 handicap, has been known to shoot in the 70s. But he claims there isn't anything magical about his golfing skills. He just practices. He shows up at the Links three times a day to drive, chip or putt - whatever needs work. And if he can't straighten something out, he'll ask pro Ray Cisbani, who also is the men's coach at Saint Leo University.

"He's very aware of his golf swing," said Cisbani, who offers lessons at the Links. "When he usually comes to me, it's, 'Ray this doesn't feel right. Can you look at my swing and tell me?' "

DeMariano is shrewd when it comes to getting golf advice. He taught himself how to play while growing up in New York. As a child, he'd hit balls he found with his friends. Golf balls were 50 cents apiece then, so buying new ones were out of the question.

As he grew up and improved in the sport, he started playing at a local park. Instead of taking the occasional lesson like some golfers, DeMariano would challenge the pro to a round. And the thing about Mickey D is he was - and still is - good enough to merit the match. By day, he was a master plumber. But on the weekends and during his free time, he was on the golf course honing his skills.

Almost 60 years and retirement later, that hasn't changed. He still plays against Cisbani.

"We go out periodically and play golf together at different courses," Cisbani said. "He's something else. Usually as people get older, they get a little more restricted in their golf, but I'd venture to say that for the five years I've known him, his golf swing has never changed. His flexibility is the same as it was five or six years ago."

DeMariano just keeps moving. He's been retired for 32 years and while the golfing is routine, it isn't boring to him.

"I love the game," DeMariano said. "What's the sense of staying home and watching a movie or something?"

His everyday life hasn't changed much, either. DeMariano still travels up north to visit family.

He still drives to the golf course. And he still has no intention of willing his golf clubs to anybody, despite playful nudges from members.

Not golfing is not an option for DeMariano, who spends his Sundays as the starter for the Links.

The golfers tease him and joke with him, but DeMariano can dish it out, too.

When the day is over, he'll climb into his car and drive home to his house in Hudson and his poodle Max.

Tomorrow is another day for more golf.

Submit feedback, story ideas to kdixon@sptimes.com or call (352) 544-9480.