Niagara Gazette — Frank Garcia’s lifelong relationship with golf has taken him to some of the finest courses in this region, as well as nationwide.
But as he walked through the doors to the Hyde Park Golf Course on Wednesday, there was no denying he had come home.
“This was my life,” Garcia said in a telephone conversation with the Gazette. “The country clubs will never make up for what I did. This club was my life.”
It’s at Hyde Park Golf Course where Garcia returned Wednesday to provide a free golf clinic to local youngsters, many of whom will play in the City of Niagara Falls Kids Junior Golf Tournament on Aug. 13. The man who now makes a living teaching adult clients at places including Niagara Frontier Country Club was back to the place where he learned the game, offering basic pointers to some who may one day follow in his footsteps.
“Hyde Park is memories, the humble beginnings,” he said. “I’m still there. I’m not above that.” Garcia recalled walking as a boy from his home on 37th Street and Simmons Drive to Hyde Park, through St. Joseph’s Cemetery down the gulley of Hyde Park’s Red Nine, where he’d look for abandoned golf balls.
He also began playing on the Red Nine, as well as the White Nine. Under the rules of his city parks junior pass, he couldn’t play the course on weekends so he’d instead use the practice green.
At age 16, he won the first of his many city championships. As Garcia explained, for all the people close to him who offered their support, there were just as many who wanted to see him fail.
Both proved to be equally motivating.
“There were people that didn’t like me, because I started the game at 11, and at 16 I was the city champ while guys were playing for 40 years,” Garcia explained. “My father couldn’t even beat me, and he grew up with these guys.”