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Over the last 40-plus years, Peter Costello has served the game of golf in several capacities. Costello, 81, is a longtime member of Cohasset Golf Club, where he won multiple club championships, served as greens chairman and helped kickstart the New England Green Section Seminar.
Costello has been a dedicated Volunteer Rules Official since 1995, previously spending over 40 days per year servicing amateur golf events. A member of the Mass Golf Championship Committee, Costello has also helped secure championship and qualifying sites in the South Shore region.
He is also a dedicated volunteer for First Tee of Massachusetts, which brings the game of golf and its inherent values to more than 18,000 children in the Bay State through its year-long programming at golf facilities and as part of The First Tee National School Program.
Those accolades helped Costello earn Mass Golf’s inaugural Andrew J. Blau Volunteer of the Year Award in 2012.
The following interview was condensed for clarity and brevity.
Mass Golf: How did you get your start with volunteering?
Peter Costello: Back in the early 1990s, I started to play a little competitive golf at the club level but didn’t know much about the rules. I signed up for the USGA Rules workshop at Far Hills, [New Jersey], and found out that there is a lot more to learn. Dick Osborn, also a member of Cohasset Golf Club, encouraged me to assist at a few [Mass Golf] events. That was over 25 years ago, and the fun just began.
MG: What would you tell others about the volunteer experience?
PC: I started playing golf at the age of 14. In my formative years, I was taught so many of the values that now are Core Values taught by First Tee of Massachusetts. At age 55, I had a little extra time and was able to start to volunteer at a few local events. I started to see the same officials at events and developed a friendship with some that would not have happened without the debriefing sessions we would have after an event. Today, I have a close relationship with the Mass Golf staff, other volunteer officials, and players, something I cherish. In my over 25 years, I can only remember making two incorrect rules decisions and luckily did not influence the results of the event.
I would strongly encourage others to volunteer for Mass Golf events. You will increase your knowledge, contribute, and meet new people who you would not ordinarily know. The rewards are plentiful.
MG: Which venues or past moments stand out to you?
PC: Having had the privilege of working inside the ropes at both the 1988 US Open and 1999 Ryder Cup, what could be better than sitting on The Country Club’s patio overlooking the 18th green and remembering the crowds breaking through the ropes as Sir Nick Faldo and Curtis Strange walked up the 18th fairway as Curtis beat Nick in an 18-hole playoff?
That can only be topped 11 years later by hearing a huge roar coming from the 17th green after Justin Leonard sank his putt to win the 1999 Ryder Cup, and then Payne Stewart conceding a win to Colin Montgomerie on the 18th green after the U.S. had already won the Cup. Nothing could be better. It could make a grilled cheese taste like a fillet mignon.
MG: Speaking of food, which clubhouse has the best lunch?
PC: I am pretty much a meat and potato person. The venue and memories are what make a meal great.
MG: Which course is your favorite to play in Massachusetts?
PC: I have had the opportunity to play all the top 30 clubs, except one. The ones I have played are all wonderful. Each having their own great qualities and uniqueness. Having been active in two-course renovations at Cohasset, I became familiar with Donald Ross’s design and philosophies. I have heard so much about Whitinsville Golf Club, and it is my vote for the best club you would like to play.
MG: Who is in your dream foursome?
PC: Growing up in Massachusetts, I must go with the Bay State heroes who have given us great excitement over the years. Since Whitinsville is a nine-hole course, I am going to play nine holes with two groups. First nine would be Larry Bird, Bobby Orr, and Tom Brady. All are champions who have made us proud to live in the Bay State.
The second nine would be the three Mass golfers who have recently won USGA Championships, Matt Parziale, Shannon Johnson, and Michael Thorbjornsen. If after the first nine Tom wanted to invite us to The Country Club for a rematch, I could be available.