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Lynn and Peabody golf tournament foes reunite for a round decades later

From left, Donald Lucia, Don Baker, Arthur Yee, and Roger Comeau putt out on the second green of Olde Salem Greens during their reunion match. (Spenser Hasak)

SALEM — You could have billed last Thursday’s battle of the septuagenarians at Olde Salem Greens as the real-life “Uncle Drew.”

This summer’s movie starring Kyrie Irving, in which a group of 70-somethings reunites to — hopefully — wreak basketball havoc in a New York playground league, was played out last week for real on the golf course. The match involved Lynn Realtor Don Baker, Peabody’s Archie Yee, Roger Comeau and Don Lucia in a game that recreated a match 60 years earlier at Salem Country Club in which Baker, the captain of the Lynn English golf team, played Yee, his counterpart for Peabody High.

The funny part about the whole thing is that nobody remembers who won that match.

“Call it a tie,” said Baker Thursday.

Baker happened to meet Comeau, a classmate of Yee’s at Peabody (he was president of his senior class, Yee was treasurer). Comeau mentioned the meeting, and next thing you know, Comeau and Yee paired up and Baker corralled Lucia and — with 91-year-old Jim Stafford playing Brian Doyle Murray’s “Caddyshack” role as referee — set out to recreate their mano-a-mano match.

Yee may be from Peabody, but he has plenty of Lynn connections. His family owned the Tai Hong restaurant on Lynnfield Street (now Jade Pacifica) and his wife is a niece of the late Walter Hoey, perhaps Lynn’s most prominent news photographer (and a former Item staffer).

Back in 1958, English and Peabody were in the old Essex County League. And both Yee and Baker had long histories with golf, as both were caddies at Salem Country Club, which means that they could play a round Mondays. In addition, Baker was a Francis Ouimet scholar (Ouimet is generally considered the father of amateur golf).

“As a kid,” said Baker, “playing at Salem Country Club was the ultimate.”

Both Yee and Baker said they learned a lot about the sport by watching the men for whom they caddied.

“What you learned most was how to conduct yourself on the golf course,” said Yee. “How to act. You learned a lot about playing the game, too, just by watching how some of the guys did it.”

“You learned an appreciation of the game,” said Baker.

Thursday, Yee got the better of Baker, “but it was close,” said Baker.

The foursome had other concerns — such as the near 100-degree heat on the course.

“We drank a lot of water,” said Comeau. “I think every two holes we had to get another bottle of water.”

Yee said he still has the same clubs he used in high school.

“I got them at Raymonds. They were called ‘Louisville Grand Slams,'” he said.

He prides himself on never having taken a golf lesson. He learned by playing in those Monday caddie golf games at Salem.

“I’d go to the driving range if I felt I had to get ready for a match in high school, but that was about it,” said Yee.

Another thing Yee was good at back in the day was finding the golf balls that were driven into the woods off the tee.

“All the guys called me ‘Hawkeye’,” he said.

Yee joined the service after high school, and once home, he began a career in research at GTE and, later, Sylvania.

And he joined a men’s league in Sandy Burr in Wayland.

When asked what would possess four septuagenarians to go out on a 100-degree day and chase a little white ball around, Lucia had the best answer.

“You’re with good friends,” he said. “You’re out, moving around, exercising, enjoying the fresh air, and all in all it’s a great day. What could be better?”

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