There is someone absent from the staff this season at the Larry Gannon Municipal Golf Course in Lynn.
Tara Johnson Friedman, who started working at the Larry Gannon Municipal Golf Course at the age of 12, has decided to retire from her position in the pro shop after 29 years of employment.
Friedman, 42, is still very much involved as a player at the popular course led by club professional Michael Foster. In fact Friedman is tied for the lead [with Mary Hunt] in the Gannon Women’s Club Championship heading in to the final two rounds of the tournament this weekend. It’s a familiar perch for Friedman who has won the event a record 14 times.
“I had a great run – 29 wonderful years with Mr. Foster at Gannon Golf Course,” said Friedman.
Who knew that when Wayne and Judy Johnson asked Mike Foster if he had anything available at the course so their 12-year-old daughter Tara could be a part of the golf scene that Tara would become a treasure within a treasure for the next three decades?
“Mike said I could start working Friday nights only washing golf carts – so that’s how I started,” recalled Friedman.
She moved on to the pro shop and helped out the staff in a number of responsibilities such as running the cash register, answering the phones, taking care of the carts, scheduling the tee times.
“Basically I was there for the public and the Gannon members helping them in any way we could,” said Friedman.
She worked with other people who were launching their careers under the guidance of Foster. That distinguished list includes Tony Sessa, who is now the head professional at Augusta National, Chris Carter, head professional at Hillview Country Club, and Billy Sessa, Tony’s father.
Friedman said one of the favorite aspects of her time at Gannon was helping to coordinate the junior golf clinic, a free instructional program for area boys and girls.
“I was a pupil in the junior golf clinic and I started volunteering my time for the clinic,” said Friedman. “That’s the one thing I miss the most, being at the clinic and teaching the basics about the grip and the stance and safety. Thanks to Mike and the volunteers and the members, the clinic has been an amazing program for kids who want to learn how to play golf.”
Friedman was a three-time Northeastern Conference All-Star at Lynn English and one of the best female golfers in the state. She briefly thought about pursuing a professional career in the sport. In fact, she started training to become a professional golf instructor.
“I really had a passion for the game of golf but I opted not to try to be a pro – I couldn’t see myself every single day and practice wasn’t my favorite thing to do,” said Friedman.
Instead Friedman continued her studies at Bridgewater State and became a schoolteacher. She is currently a teacher at Ingalls Elementary School in Lynn and a lead teacher for the summer school program.
“It’s been a very good decision and I’m very proud of that decision to become a teacher,” said Friedman. “I love being here at Ingalls Elementary School and helping the children of the city of Lynn and teaching them.”
Friedman felt it was time to leave her position at Gannon and “travel down a different path.” That decision was influenced by the fact that she and her husband, Ben, have a one-year-old daughter, Catherine. I felt like I needed to be home more for her.”
It was tough decision because of her admiration for the Gannon membership.
“It took a long time to make sure I was making the right decision because of the members and my Gannon family and of course, Michael. Twenty-nine years is a long time. I really wanted to make that 30-year-mark but it was just something I needed to do.”
Friedman had nothing but the highest of praise for Michael Foster, who has made Gannon one of the most popular and welcoming golf courses in New England. Many local residents put Gannon at the top of the list of “The Best Things in Lynn.”
“Michael was a wonderful boss and a great person to work for,” said Friedman. “He helped me when my golf game was bad. He helped me in any way he possibly could. I looked up to him. I am grateful that he took me in and gave me something to do for 29 years. I loved that job. I had a great passion for it. The people at Gannon are great and that’s the thing I miss the most.”