CHATHAM – At the end of every Monomoy golf season team members like to give their coaches thank you cards. Jack Farrell pays close attention to the notes written within because that, he says, is when he knows the students he works with have understood that there's more to golf than just the game.
Farrell, a longtime Chatham lawyer and Realtor, has certainly earned himself the right to retire, but can't imagine hanging up either his professional hat or his golf cap anytime soon, especially when it comes to working with the student athletes on Monomoy's girls and boys golf teams.
Farrell's golf mentoring first began informally when his daughter was a student at Chatham High School and a member of the golf team, even though at the time it was just boys. A member of the Eastward Ho! Country Club, Farrell became something of a liaison between the club and the golf team, helping to build lasting relationships.
“The boys had a wonderful team back then, so I arranged for the state championships to be played at EH in 2000 as sort of a reward for the boys,” Farrell said. “That was kind of fun.”
After his daughter graduated, Farrell turned his focus to the annual golf tournament he'd created, the WHGANY, which, since its inception in 1990, has given roughly $200,000 in scholarships to Chatham and Monomoy golfers as well as donated more than $17,000 in equipment.
Then, in 2015, Farrell met Monomoy golfer Jen Keim, one of the top golfers in the state, and a new mentoring relationship was born. Farrell offered her instruction so she'd be ready for spring golf. Little did Farrell know that it would be mid-October when she was able to get started.
“We ended up playing all winter,” he said. “We started Oct. 15 and ended up playing right through to the spring golf season. She’d come over after school with her mom and we’d sneak nine holes in before dark, which in December at 30 degrees was pretty interesting.”
Eventually, word of Farrell's knowledgeable guidance got back to the coaching staff at Monomoy, who welcomed his assistance with the girls and boys teams. Since then, Farrell has not only become a mainstay with both teams, but has also encouraged his employer, Kinlin Grover in Chatham, to donate 13 junior memberships at Cranberry Valley in Harwich.
Between the skills of head coach John Anderson and Farrell's instruction, the Monomoy girls golf teams have proven quite successful, beginning with the 2016 team.
“We pointed toward that 2016 state championship and gave the girls a year’s notice that it would be at Eastward Ho! so they could decide how hard they wanted to commit themselves, and they did,” Farrell said. “They won the sectional tournament, which was unheard of. They’d never placed in the top three before. Then they came in second in the state championship.”
Though Farrell served as junior varsity coach for the boys one fall, he prefers his role as mentor, and looks forward each season to working with a new round of golfers, each of whom he takes a genuine interest in. Working with student athletes is something Farrell finds immensely fulfilling.
“I think we’re dealing with the cream of the crop,” he said. “They love the game of golf, and they’re all honors and high honors students, which is amazing to me. They’re just wonderful kids from great families, and they’re a pleasure to work with.”
Farrell said it's exciting seeing players flourish on and off the course.
“Seeing these talented, dedicated kids develop is really exciting, just like being a teacher and seeing them grasp a math concept,” he said. “The big part of my involvement is just introducing kids to the game because I know how much it can and will mean to them, and the opportunities it can provide in terms of people that you meet, scholarship and job opportunities, education opportunities. It just opens up a whole other world.”
But it goes beyond golf for Farrell, who knows that the sport teaches more than just how to hit a ball.
“Golf is different from every other sport in that it’s the only sport where you have to look in the mirror and call a penalty on yourself,” Farrell said. “It requires and demands honesty, integrity, accountability. In other sports you depend upon the referees and the umpires to make all those decisions. In golf you have to do it yourself, and if you can’t do it, you really don’t belong in the game of golf. Once the kids understand that it’s not just a sport, that it’s a way to conduct yourself, it’s a way of life as to how you should conduct yourself in every aspect of your life, then it really all clicks. That’s what I really like to see, because I know it’s going to stand up well in everything else they do.”
The end-of-season thank you notes often express just how much the players Farrell mentors have learned.
“When I read the thank you notes from the girls at the end of the season, I realize that they understand that we did a lot more than hit a golf ball out there,” he said.
Farrell's biggest hope when it comes to his work with the golf teams? That it inspires more people to mentor.
“You get to this point in your life and you’ve probably accomplished everything you set out to do, hopefully. Anything you can give back to the next generation is a great investment of your time,” he said. “The kids really appreciate it. I bump into the kids I coached 20 years ago in Little League and they’ve never forgotten those times. They treat you with a certain respect and appreciation for everything you did.
“One of my great hopes is that the kids that I coached, 20 or 30 years later will be coaches themselves. They will understand and appreciate what certain adults did for them and they’ll turn around and do the same thing for their kids. I hope and fully expect that we’ll be creating a bunch of future coaches, and they’ll love it, just as I have.”