FOXBORO — Ross Salotto of the Norton Country Club was the happiest man in the field of 104 golfers who traversed the Foxborough Country Club Thursday for the first round of the 59th Attleboro Area Golf Association’s City Open.
That is, because Salotto is lucky to be alive.
The fortunate former Norton High School Lancer was struck by a car in a Brockton business center parking lot 4 1/2 months ago, suffering a broken collarbone. Salotto was hospitalized for two days and then spent three months recovering and not picking up a golf club until early June.
So what if Salotto finished his round with a 90 on his scorecard?
“I’m happy to be here,” Salotto said, glad to be playing a second round of golf Friday in the AAGA Open at Wentworth Hills. “I got blind-sided, I have no recollection of the event,” he said of being struck, showing the scar on his right shoulder blade. “It’s not so bad swinging a golf club, but I don’t know what I’m going to do when I go indoors during the winter and play tennis, especially with my service.”
Members of Foxborough CC have worn a heavy heart on their golf shirt sleeves with the recent and sudden passing of longtime member, 51-year old Rob Arnold, the Chairman of the club’s tournament committee. “He was such a huge part of the membership here,” FCC resident PGA Pro Lou Rivers said in tribute — the club championship series being postponed until September.
Rivers and course superintendent Michael Poc set up the course so that “it was a good challenge,” Rivers said. “The No. 4, 5 and 6 holes are always a challenge, we made No. 5 a signature green with the pin to the middle right. We moved a few tees back, knowing that a lot of guys will go for the greens. We want to make sure that they play a good round of golf.”
The AAGA will induct longtime Locust Valley and Highland CC man of the links Alan Greim and Don Langevin, who has helped update all of the AAGA records and technology into its Hall of Fame Sunday during ceremonies at the Norton CC.
The AAGA will also present the Tom Keyes Scholarship Awards to recent North Attleboro High grad Marcus Costa (heading to the University of New England) and recent AHS grad Jake Moulton (heading to Quinnipiac). Also, Bishop Feehan High grad Jared Moura (heading to Northeastern) will receive the John “Buck” Renner Scholarship Award. Moura saw more corners of the FCC than anyone Thursday, finishing with a round of 103 in his first AAGA Open. “I had to quadruples (bogeys) and I did have to pars,” Moura said, playing the FCC for the very first time. “The greens are much faster than I play on.”
Former Norton High Lancer and current University of Hartford sophomore Jared Winiarz, the No. 5 finisher last year, came in with a round of 77 — marred by an “8” on the par-4 No. 14 hole. He lost his ball off the tee, then hit into a bunker, “a big hiccup” on my part Winiarz said. He then finished with birdies at No. 17 and No. 18, chipping in on the final hole. Winiarz and the UHartford golf team have 10 golf courses in the immediate area for use, “so we have somewhere to play every day,” he said, the Hawks opening their fall schedule Sept. 7.
“Live” AAGA Open scores can be found at AAGACityChamp.GolfGenius.com, compliments of Winiarz’ brother Adam Winiarz, a recent graduate from Bryant University and graduate school student there, who serves as a site director for the PGA of New England out of Boylston. The elder Winiarz serves as the operations manager for all New England PGA Junior Tour events. A middle distance track runner of renown at Norton High and at Bryant, he has tried qualifying for the Open just once and never made the cut.
Catching up with Team Cuozzo, the patriarch Rick being the two-time and defending Senior Division champion at the Foxborough CC. A former member at the Glen Ellen CC in Millis, Cuozzo joined the FCC when that club closed. All of the Cuozzo kids were outstanding student-athletes at King Philip High, the soccer-lacrosse minded Katie (now in Manhattan) and Alli (now in Oakland, Ca.) and hockey-lax man John (now in Brighton).
Among the former champions in the field were 16-time titlist Marc Forbes (83), 2006 kingpin Bert Bouley (84), 1987 champion Neal Boyer (83), 2007 champion Billy White (77), 2014 titlist Scott Congdon (76) and defending champion Kolby Simmons (75).