It was late 1990’s when luck and destiny got together and wrote a very important chapter in my professional career.
I was playing on the LPGA then, and during The JAL Classic NY, I had the chance to come to Winged Foot for lunch; and what a chance that was, being introduced to Winged Foot’s Head Professional, Mr. Tom Nieporte. I will never forget his bright blue eyes, his wonderful smile and that soft tone of voice.
A couples of years went by. While I was enjoying Christmastime with my family in Peru, my phone rang. I heard “Alicia, this is Tom Nieporte from Winged Foot. Do you remember me?”
He continued saying, “I need an Assistant. Would you be interested in working with me?” I did not hesitate for one second to say “YES!”; I didn’t even need to give it a second thought. Shortly after, I met with him and his wife Joan in Florida and . . . the rest is history.
Tom became my boss for five years. We had precious moments, many laughs, and shared unbelievable stories. I spent many hours listening to a man whom I consider the nicest person I have ever met. He was the sweetest, softest, most giving and loving person. The ultimate gentleman! And on top of all that, his golf swing was a classical melody; the perfect combination of graciousness, rhythm and power.
I spent four years at Winged Foot under his wings and I will treasure that forever. He became my boss, my friend and my mentor. His words and stories will remain with me forever.
Fortunately, I had another great chance, this time, to say goodbye. I talked to him on the phone before he passed away. I had the opportunity to tell him, for the last time, “I love you and thank you.”
His presence will be missed but I am sure he is in Heaven playing some great golf and being the same wonderful man.
Rest in Peace, Tom!