- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Kulkaski, 29, first met Laoretti in 1986 at the Indian Creek Country Club in Jupiter, Fla., where he was the club pro. She was 23 years old at the time and working for her dad selling plastics. Laoretti was 47. She wanted to learn how to play golf. He showed up half an hour late for her first lesson. "He had some lame excuse, like he was home in bed with his wife," Kulkaski remembers. "Yeah, right!"
Laoretti's reputation as a Lothario had preceded him. He was married first in 1959, at age 20, to his high school sweetheart, Jane Stumpfel. The couple adopted a son, Peter, before divorcing in 1968. "We just grew apart," Laoretti says. In truth Larry fell for a certain waitress at Smithtown Landing Country Club on Long Island, where he was then teaching. Irene Smith already had three children when she was swept away by the dashing club pro. The two were married two months after Larry divorced, and they had one daughter, Lynn. The family followed Laoretti across the country from golf club to golf club before he finally took root at Indian Creek in 1983.
Laoretti's second marriage was teetering when Susan walked into his pro shop. After her second lesson Laoretti asked her out for a drink, but she declined—on account of his wedding ring and all. But she booked another lesson and afterward said, "How 'bout that drink?" Larry and Susan soon began seeing each other, and Susan eventually moved into a two-room apartment with Lynn, who was, by then, a teenager. "That's how his wife found out about us," Susan says. "I had to get out of that apartment in a hurry."
Laoretti's second divorce was final in July 1988. In September he and Susan were married by a justice of the peace. Thirteen months later, Susan bore Larry a son, Lonnie.
We recount this family history simply to illustrate that Laoretti has never been one to linger in one place. Two years ago ESPN pleaded with him to stand over his golf ball just a millisecond longer so he could be shown hitting it on TV. It seems that he was launching his approach shots before his partner's ball had even landed on the green. "He's like an old gunslinger," says fellow Senior Al Geiberger. "You look away for an instant, and boom! his ball is gone."
That may explain why Laoretti travels in a motor home. He would rather sit in a dentist's chair than in an airport. He likes to hit the road right after the final hole of a tournament—he usually yields the wheel to his caddie, Bob O'Brien—and head for the next campground (O'Brien stays in a nearby motel). The mobile home is cozy. There's only one bedroom, but there arc loads of entertainment extras: two televisions, a VCR (the Buns of Steel exercise video gets plenty of use), a stereo and a cellular phone. There are family snapshots taped to the fridge, and a stack of Reader's Digests in the bathroom. The rules of the road are simple:
1) driver chooses tunes; 2) no back-sofa driving; and 3) gin rummy loser docs the dishes.
That's it. Of course, when you drive 25,000 miles a year, it isn't all happy motoring. There was that time when one of the tires blew and caused the septic tank to explode. "Somewhere in Ohio, the grass is growing a little taller by the interstate," O'Brien says.
Laoretti's wanderlust began when he was a teenager who hit far more hooks than books. He had taught himself the game while caddying at the Mahopac Country Club, playing on caddie days and sneaking out for a few holes in the evenings. Upon graduating from Mahopac High, he left a prescient message below his snapshot in the senior-class yearbook, The Wampum. It read: "The golf profession will take Larry far."