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Seacoast golf community pays tribute to late Tony Koch

PORTSMOUTH – Though it has been a very long time, Rick Sheldon will all the time bear in mind the primary time he met Tony Loch.

A local of Dover, he was a young person when a good friend invited him to a spherical of golf at Portsmouth Country Club in Greenland, the place he was launched to the person who was on his manner to turning into an area legend and made an prompt impression.

“I met Tony when I was probably 15 or 16,” Sheldon mentioned. “You met Tony once and he knew you. He knew your name and he never forgot your name. He was a great supporter of youth golf. I’ve known Tony for a long time and considered him a friend.”

Loch, who died October 5 at the age of 92, was a social person and known to many simply as “Pro,” a mark of respect for the 50 years he served as a chief professional at the state, including 34 years in the Portsmouth Country Club.

More:Dinwoodie rebounds on the final day of six to win his first Seacoast Amateur

“He’s never shied away from a hard day’s work – ever,” said Tony’s son Tim Loch, head professional at Cochecho Country Club in Dover. “He always did what was necessary. He did everything right. He did it the way it should be done.”

“I do not assume you are going to discover too many individuals who did not like or respect Tony,” Sheldon said. “He was the consummate membership skilled, there’s little doubt about that.”

Loch was instrumental in founding the Seacoast Am Golf Championship in 1980

Tony Loch and Sheldon, 15 years after their initial introduction, were part of a group that was instrumental in founding the popular Seacoast Amateur Golf Championship, which is still going strong today 42 years later.

Tony turned 90 on the same weekend that the tournament turned 40 in 2020.

“I believe it is a good match,” Tony said in a 2020 interview. “The gamers get pleasure from enjoying in it. There was just one 12 months after we did not have sufficient gamers. The good gamers need to play towards one another. I did not need a handicap match. It’s an all-gross match.”

Tony Loch and his spouse Sheila have been an integral a part of the annual occasion. Often armed with a row of garden chairs and a tee field, they might normally perch behind one of many greens to watch as gamers marched by one group at a time as they battled for the coveted title. Many took time to acknowledge the couple.

“He really became the face of the championship,” Sheldon mentioned. “He really was perfect for the job. He loved the championship and worked hard to make it a success. It was a long tournament and Tony had a lot to do with it.”

More:This 12 months’s Seacoast Am golf course options six former champions

Fixture at Seacoast Am

Tony Loch, a local of Exeter who spent his closing years in Dover, by no means performed at Seacoast Am however he by no means missed one both, till this 12 months due to well being causes. He helped begin an occasion within the early Nineteen Eighties that may deliver collectively the perfect newbie golfers on the coast every year on the final weekend in June.

“He was larger than life,” mentioned five-time Seacoast-Am champion Brett Wilson. “He always had a smile. What I certainly remember most is that he loved golf. It was in his blood, in his DNA. He’s been in business forever. Even when he retired, he couldn’t get away from it. He loved seeing it, loved being a part of it. Obviously he started the Seacoast. I will miss him.”

More:Seacoast Am 2021 champion Ryan Quinn is chasing desires as a professional on the NH Open. ‘You have to imagine’

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than the Seacoast Am turned a everlasting fixture on the native {golfing} calendar. As Tournament Director, Tony Loch oversaw Seacoast Am in its early years. When he left that function, he remained a useful useful resource for everybody.

He continued to be concerned by protecting statistics and information, and remained intimately acquainted with the principles of golf and the historical past of the match. He even stored a working listing of all gamers who performed at Seacoast Am.

“I’ve played in this tournament for 30 years and I have my point average for all 30 years,” Sheldon mentioned. “I know how many cuts I’ve made, how many I’ve missed. It was amazing. Anyone who has ever played in the tournament could see what they did.

“It just shows his dedication to the tournament and golf in general,” he added.

There’s even a tournament within a tournament called the Tony Loch Senior Division for players aged 55 and over. Over the years he has nurtured the Seacoast Am with an immense sense of pride and watched it grow into what it has become.

“Everybody had a story about Tony,” said Tim Loch. “Everyone in golf circles knew him. Not just me but my whole family was constantly reminded of many kind acts and favors and nice things he did for all sorts of people in the golf business and everyone was very happy to share their fond memories of my dad.”

Tony Loch had compassion for others

“I happened to be playing golf with someone and they said, ‘I remember your dad in the old days when I was a kid and didn’t have any money and he let me hit balls (drive at the track every now and then and he wanted me didn’t get paid,'” mentioned Tim Loch. “I’ve never known anything like that at the moment, but I’ve heard little snippets along the way and it’s really nice.

“He handled everybody pretty and actually,” he added. “He was a straight shooter. He gave you his opinion and what he thought about it, but he really treated everyone fairly. He treated everyone kindly. Those are things that caught my eye.”

Loch is a member of the state’s first Golf Hall of Fame class

As a member of the New Hampshire Golf Association’s first class of Hall of Fame, Tony Loch was an accomplished player. According to the NHGA website, in addition to winning many Pro-Am events across New England, Loch also won the New Hampshire Chapter Championship twice and was named NH Chapter Professional of the Year in 1978.

Sheldon recalled a day in 1966 when Loch and Warren Tibbetts, then one of New England’s top amateurs, took on PGA Tour players Bob Charles and Bruce Devlin in a show two-man best ball match at Manchester Country Club defeated.

The local pair prevailed 1-up when Loch hit an approach shot from the fairway to within six feet of the cup at 18th Hole.

“Tony performed brilliantly that day,” Sheldon said. “Afterwards (Charles and Devlin) have been very flattering about how properly he had performed. It’s one thing I’ve remembered all these years. As a membership skilled you aren’t getting the chance to play so much, however whenever you do, he was rattling good.”

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