Early 1900s: Nick DeMane
Nick, the patriarch of the family, was born in 1887, and at the age of 18 was already working in the golf trade at the Apawamis Country Club in Rye, New York. There he met Gene Sarazen and Tony Manero, two U.S. Open golf champions. Originally a squash instructor, he became an assistant golf professional.
From the Apawamis Country Club he became head professional at the Hommocks Golf Club, then moved on to Soundview Country Club in Great Neck, New York, where he taught golf to many celebrities, including: W. C. Fields, Ernest Hemingway, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. They also became his playing partners. As a tribute to Nick, F. Scott “Scotty” Fitzgerald used Nick DeMane (spelled Demain) as one of his characters in the novel “The Great Gatsby”.
Rick’s grandfather, Nick, was also in charge of a golf factory, in 1905, called the Harry C. Lee Company, in New York City. There he made hickory shafted woods and irons. Nick, and J.R. Inglis, his brother-in-law, played in the 1913 US Open. Nick happened to have been the first one to tee off at the event.
Nick was later appointed as head professional at Blind Brook Country Club in Purchase, New York, where he stayed until retiring in 1957. He was the last PGA professional, at Blind Brook, and as of 2013, still is.
Nick’s brother, Art, followed him by working as a golf professional at the Huntington Country Club, and Soundview Country Club, then on to Oak Park Country Club, in Illinois.
Nick’s two sons, Dick and Jack, also carried on the golf tradition by running Nick DeMane’s Golf Range in Port Chester, New York.
It was here that Jack began repairing and redesigning golf clubs. He new how to improve the clubs’ performance, and his hands-on approach made it happen. It is also at the range where the third generation of DeManes, Jack’s sons, Bob and Rick, were introduced to golf. They further learned the trade while working at the shop at 35 Chapel Street in Greenwich, Connecticut, after the range was sold.