NORWAY — About 20 years ago Tom Watson – no, not the golf pro – wandered into the Norway Country Club’s pro shop holding a broken tee and asking for a piece of tape.

“Who carries only one tee on the golf course?” asked club pro Dave Mazzeo, throwing his head back in laughter.

“I gave him a bag of tees,” Mazzeo said.

The PGA member and Norway Country Club golf pro for the past 40 years and his wife, Gail, who ran the popular Gail’s Kitchen in the Club House for the past 35 years, are retiring.

“So many great stories. Forty years is a long time,” Mazzeo said as he and his wife took a break from packing up the kitchen and merchandise such as boxes of golf balls and T-shirts in the pro shop.

Mazzeo, a member of the PGA and a 2009 inductee into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame, has been at Norway Country Club since 1976.

Considered one of the pioneers of organized junior golf in Maine, Mazzeo began a free junior clinic for area youth immediately after he arrived in Norway. The following year, Mazzeo began a Tri-State Open at the course. It blossomed into a much-anticipated annual event, which has since been taken over by the Maine State Golf Association.

Mazzeo quickly realized that junior golf was one of the primary building blocks of the very sport he loved. Get the kids involved, he found, and more adults started playing, too. The the club expanded to include a driving range.

Golf is a game that he says builds strong moral character.

“It’s what the game teaches . . . integrity,” Mazzeo said.

Like her husband who worked 12-hour days, Gail strove to ensure the club’s menu and service were top-notch.

Gail’s Kitchen drew in scores of people every day to enjoy her homemade chowders and luncheon daily specials, and the view from the dining room overlooking Lake Pennesseewassee and Oxford Hills. Three-quarters of the clientele came from town.

“I didn’t apply. I married him,” Gail chuckled when asked how she got the job running the kitchen.

She’s no stranger to the club. She’s been playing golf there since the age of 10.

“I grew up coming here,” she said.

Dave, on the other hand, came from the Rockland area, graduating from Rockland High School in 1963 before serving in the Marine Corps from 1963 until 1967. He received an associate degree in turf management from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts, served as president of the Turf Club, served a stint on Cape Cod and at Massena, N.Y., before coming to Norway.

As part of his job, he appeared at the Norway Board of Selectmen meeting every April – after spending the winter in Florida – to obtain the club’s beer and wine license.

“Welcome back, Dave. Now we know spring has arrived,” the chairman would always say.

“Thanks,” Mazzeo would reply. “It’s great to be back.”

With some light banter between the board and the golf pro as members signed the annual license, Mazzeo would remind them, “It’s not all play you know. I work there, too.”

The country club, which is owned by stockholders, offers a 2,909-yard, par 35, nine-hole course. It was designed by David Dunn in 1929. Mazzeo calls it very player friendly, a full-service course.

“It’s service not with a scowl, but with a smile,” he said.

That’s why golfers come from out of state to stay at some of the beautiful campgrounds in Oxford Hills to go golfing at the Norway Country Club, he said.

Players can go to Sunday River in Newry and the Bethel Inn for their 18-hole golf courses with upscale services, but they will be hard pressed to find a nine-hole course that is more beautiful or more full service than the Norway Country Club, he said.

The clubhouse is on land purchased in the late 1700s by Jeremiah Hobbs from Henry Rust, according to the club’s history. George M. Bachelder ran a dairy farm on the property until it was sold to the Norway Home Building Association in 1929. Shortly after this purchase, the association transferred the property to the then-new country club.

The Mazzeos will winter in Florida as they have for years and return to Oxford Hills in the summer to live on Paris Hill in a house that belonged to Gail’s late father.

Mazzeo’s name will now be retired alongside other Norway Country Club golf pros such as Eddie Bush in the 1930s and Jim Browning and Al Banke in the 1940s.

Mazzeo considers it to be one of the most beautiful golf courses in Maine.

“It’s a view you never forget,” he said.

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