Dave Augustine recalled his initial thoughts about taking over as East Haven’s golf coach: “It would be a cool thing to do for a few years.”
That was in 1977. Augustine still has the job. But, after 42 seasons in charge, he is stepping away after the completion of the regular season next week.
“Sometimes, it’s hard to wrap my brain around it,” Augustine said. “So many good things have happened to me from coaching golf.”
For instance, last year, the 69-year-old Augustine was inducted into the East Haven Athletic Hall of Fame.
“If you said to me in 1977 that 41 years from now, you will be inducted into the East Haven Athletic Hall of Fame, I would have laughed and said, ‘What are you, crazy? That’s not going to happen!’ It did.”
Augustine is only the second golf coach in the program’s history. You may recognize the name of the first one: Frank Crisafi. He was still coaching football and basketball back then.
Once Crisafi took over as athletic director, he gave up the golf job and Augustine took the reins. He has never coached any other sport.
While coaching golf may not be as strenuous as the major high school sports — and you get to play behind your players during matches — you still have to adapt to the changing times and to the different golfers on the team each season.
Not to mention having to reapply for your job every single year.
“Whether I had winning teams or not winning teams for that matter, I always enjoyed the kids,” said Augustine, who retired from teaching English at the school in 2007. “With golf, you teach kids etiquette and rules that they will take them through the rest of their lives. Golf is a gentleman’s game. The thing I always tried to tell kids is we have no referees or umpires. It’s a game about honesty. Honesty only counts when no one is looking.”
Said East Haven athletic director Anthony Verderame: “He is one of the kindest, most caring individuals I have ever met, … I tried to talk him out of it. He is still at the top of his game. There is no better person to teach selflessness, teamwork, integrity, the way golf should be played.”
A former standout golfer at Sacred Heart when it was a Division II college, Augustine directed East Haven to five SCC division championships between 2001 and 2014. In 2014, he was the SCC Division II Coach of the Year and won the same honor for the Register.
Augustine faced off one final time against Hillhouse, Wilbur Cross and Career on Wednesday. Mike DePasqua (Hillhouse) and Joe Steele (Wilbur Cross) are both veteran coaches and along with former Career coach Buddy Chernovetz are like “the four Amigos” among the schools that play out of Alling.
“I am proud to say that Dave is both a colleague and a good friend. His positive attitude and sportsmanship made matches against his team fun regardless of the outcome. Dave will definitely be missed,” Steele said.
East Haven will have three more matches next week and then conclude with the two-man Chappa tournament at Longshore GC. The final home match is next Tuesday at Alling Memorial GC.
East Haven will face North Branford in that match. North Branford coach Andrew DaCorte is one of Augustine’s many former players. Augustine’s son Brian, a former PGA professional, may be joining the group next Tuesday. Verderame said all of Augustine’s former players are encouraged to come to the match for a final send-off.
“He is really the greatest guy. It’s a huge loss for us,” Verderame said.