Janesville's George Farrell makes sure the fairways are open for young golfers
Education: Graduated from Waukesha High School; earned bachelor's and master's degrees from UW-Whitewater.
Family: Wife, Judie; son, Jeff, and daughter, Lisa; five grandchildren.
Favorite music: Anything country
If he could have dinner with anyone, living or dead: Professional golfer and Edgerton native Steve Stricker. "I would love to pick his brain and find out exactly what goes on in the PGA Tour… He seems like an honest guy that puts his family ahead of everything else… And he happens to be very good at something I love to do, which is golf."
His inspirations: Two stand out more than any others. Former Janesville Parker boys golf coach Mike Griffin—"Not only was he a great coach that related very well to kids, but he was a fantastic motivator;" The other is former Riverside Golf Course head pro Kenny Johnson—"He encouraged me to take things as far as I wanted to with everything. He was very instrumental in helping me get things going to where they are today."
JANESVILLE In a 29-year career as a business/marketing teacher at Janesville Parker High School, George Farrell was the driving force behind the school's successful DECA program.
Farrell mentored every student looking to find his or her place in the business world as the student was his own.
Today, Farrell continues to affect and promote the city's youth. His classroom is now Blackhawk Golf Course.
Farrell has been instrumental in teaching, guiding and providing an outlet for any youngster interested in learning and playing golf. He heads the annual Janesville Optimist Junior Tournament, and he also helped establish the Super Senior Tournament four years ago—a popular two-day tournament for any golfer 50 and over.
"I don't look at anything I've done as work," the soft-spoken Farrell said. "It's fun for me.
"When it comes to golf, kids have to start somewhere. I'm just trying to give them an understanding of the game and a place to play, no matter what kind of background or how much money they come from. Every kid deserves a chance to play."
Farrell retired from teaching in 2000 and has been a fixture at Blackhawk Golf Course since. An avid player himself, Farrell also served as Mike Griffin's junior varsity coach in the boys golf program at Parker.
Tom Tautges served eight years as the head professional at Riverside Golf Course in Janesville. He said Farrell's contributions, although too many to count, did not go unnoticed.
"George is a guy that is very passionate about what he does," Tautges said. "A lot of things got done at both (city) courses because George made it a point to get them done.
"And George understood that the youth are the future of golf. He was able to nurture so many kids, give them an opportunity and a venue to play at."
The annual Optimist Tournament is Farrell's pride and joy. Not because the tournament was his idea, but because of the unlimited opportunities it gives kids to play golf. The entry fee is only $5, and that includes two rounds of golf, lunch and trophies for everyone involved.
The Janesville Optimist Club provides funding for the event, and Farrell says the entry fee is really only enforced to make sure the kids are committed to playing because the two city courses block off tee times for two days.
"The neatest thing about the Optimist Tournament is the way the kids respond to everything," Farrell said. "To see the look on their faces when they get a trophy, or to see that light in their eyes when they hit a good shot, that makes it all worthwhile.
"It's a lot similar to what I used to see at DECA competitions. That is what makes it all worthwhile to me.
"That, and the interaction taking place between the kids and their parents. The parents of our youth golfers have been great as far as getting involved."
Getting involved has never been a problem for George Farrell. Neither has been making an impact on the lives of thousands of kids.