Dave Catalano will be able to attend any U.S. Open he wants, anywhere, for the rest of his life. That was one of the gifts he received—and the one that brought the most ooohs and aaahs from hundreds of guests—at his retirement dinner last night at Bethpage State Park.
Catalano, director of the park and the man who coordinated the massive effort to prepare it for two U.S. Opens, has officially retired although he will stay on as an independent contractor through the fall.
People from the worlds of government, parks and golf honored him at a gala reception last night. Former New York State parks commissioner Bernadette Castro, who appointed Catalano to head the park (at which he began working as a seasonal employee 45 years ago) said of his contribution to the Opens: “We couldn’t have pulled it off without Dave.”
Craig Currier, whom Catalano hired to be superintendent of the courses and who made a name for himself by getting the Black in Open shape (despite deluges each time), also spoke. Also part of the program was a stirring video tribute that included a shot of a teenaged Catalano on the range at the park, and a grown-up Dave posing with Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover, alongside the Open trophy.
More details will be in Sunday’s Around LI golf page; and a fuller profile on Dave’s career will be coming later this season.