on December 1, 2013 - 9:45 PM
Nov. 1, 1924 – Nov. 30, 2013
John P. “Jack” Henrich, of the Town of Tonawanda, the original head golf professional at Elma Meadows Golf Course and nationally renowned for his skills at repairing and refurbishing golf clubs, died Saturday in DeGraff Memorial Hospital, North Tonawanda, after a short illness. He was 89.
Mr. Henrich, a Professional Golf Association Hall of Fame member, was the pro at the Erie County-owned course from the day it opened in 1960 until he retired in 1989.
Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of Kensington High School and served in the Navy during World War II. Returning from service, he was a heavy machinery operator for Springsteed Construction for 10 years.
He took golf lessons in the late 1940s at the Delaware Family YMCA, meeting his future wife there. Determined to make a career of golf, he spent a year as pro at the former Pleasantview Golf Course in Lancaster, then applied for the position at Elma Meadows.
Mr. Henrich taught the game to thousands of adults and youngsters. An adult education golf instructor for more than 15 years, he also worked with junior golfers at Elma Meadows and the Town of Tonawanda and with handicapped children. In the mid 1960s, he was teaching as many as 350 students a week in schools throughout Erie County.
A life member of the PGA, he won the organization’s Horton Smith Award in 1975 for his contributions to education.
As a hobby during the winter months, he also repaired golf clubs at home for his friends and other golf pros in the area. His reputation grew to the point where he was nationally recognized for golf equipment fitting and repair.
He was one of the first instructors to teach golf club repair for the PGA and led classes and repair clinics throughout the nation. Three golf equipment companies, Dunlop, Royal and Spaulding, contracted with him to do their repairs for the Northeast.
In 1974, he started his own retail golf shop, Woods to Wedges in Clarence, for equipment sales and club repair.
As a player, he won the Western New York PGA Super Senior Championship, registered seven holes-in-one and in retirement shot his age numerous times.
Mr. Henrich also was a skilled woodturner and donated many handmade items to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation through the Western New York Woodturners.
He maintained a winter home in West End, N.C., where he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, the former Edna Fessler; two daughters, Donna and Terry Houle; and two grandsons.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Kenmore Baptist Church, 10 Wardman Road, Kenmore.