TICONDEROGA - George Mackey didn't plan on staying.
"I needed a job and there was one in Ti," Mackey recalled. "I planned on staying a couple of years to get some experience and moving on."
Mackey started his 30th season as pro at the Ticonderoga Country Club April 3.
"I got to know people and really enjoyed working here," Mackey said. "My kids were born here; I've become part of the community. Ticonderoga has been good to me."
Mackey smiled as looked across the course, located in the Lord Howe Valley two miles south on the hamlet on Route 9N, noting the April 3 opening is the earliest the links have ever been completely open.
Mackey started playing golf - and working at a local course - in Schenectady at age 15. He enjoyed the game and, maybe just as important, his employers liked him.
"They really encouraged me to pursue golf as a career," he said. "They steered me in the right direction."
So, Mackey decided to be a club pro. Unlike today, when prospective pros go directly to PGA school, Mackey entered the Professional Golfers of America apprentice program. From there he went to PGA school, learning the business side of the sport as well as golf skills. After passing tests in both areas and making it through a final interview, Mackey was a PGA pro.
During that process Mackey learned of a job opening at Ticonderoga Country Club in 1981.
"I needed a job, so I applied," Mackey said. "It's turned out great. I couldn't ask for anything better."
Mackey is the longest-serving pro in the 85-year history of TCC, but he quickly deflects talk of himself to his love - the 18-hole, 6,194-yard Ticonderoga course.
"The course is open and fairly forgiving to an average player, but it still presents a challenge because of the hilly terrain," he said. "And the Trout Brook comes into play on seven holes, so there are a lot of water hazards."