By Jim Sullivan
---- — When a group of friends asked longtime Newburyport resident Peter Clarke to join them in a round of golf 25 years ago, he had no idea his life was about to change.
“I got into it a little bit later in life,” said Clarke, 66. “And I did quite well, actually. I’m quite competitive. You make friends. You laugh, you cry, you ridicule and you take abuse. It’s so damn fun, though.”
Clarke has been having fun on the links ever since. He was recently a part of the team that won the PGA Pro-Am Maya World Open at the Yucatan Country Club in Merida, Mexico, May 15.
“It was a warm day,” Clarke said of the conditions. “It was 95 degrees. There were gusts of winds about 20 to 25 miles per hour, and we were pretty comfortable out there. We played pretty well and we got along pretty well. There didn’t seem to be much pressure. We were having fun and if we won, it would be great and we did, so it was even better.”
The PGA initiated the Maya World Open in 2012 as the first tournament played at the Yucatan where Clarke is a member and was part of the team that won second place. This year, he knew he wanted to go all the way. Clarke was teamed with Fernando Noriega, Rafael Vázquez and golf pro Armando Favela at the Maya Open this year, and the foursome put together a card of 57 strokes and 15-under-par on the 18 hole, Jack Nicklaus course.
“We thought we were going to win,” said Clarke. “So it was a nice feeling. We felt good about it, and it was close but we went out there and spent the time, and it came to fruition. So, that’s a good feeling.”
Clarke, who estimates his handicap is either a seven or eight, has been playing in pro-am events for the past 10 years, winning the President’s Cup and the Ipswich Cup at the Ipswich Country Club, where he is also a member. He and his wife, Karen, go back and forth between Newburyport and Merida all year. As a semi-retired international art dealer, Clarke can hit the links on a minute’s notice.
“I love the idea that I am out there competing against other people, but, at the same time, I am pushing myself to play better constantly,” Clarke said.
Back in Port until he gets the urge to jet back to Mexico, Clarke says he plans to keep playing pro-am events, with the next one as early as next February or March.
“You’re always out there playing against yourself,” said Clarke. “Or for yourself, trying to push yourself to play a better game. It’s kind of a Zen thing.”