The year was 1964, and Bensalem’s John “Johnny C” Carpineta had just been drafted by the Army. Only seven days before his wedding, the 23-year-old was forced to uproot his life and go Augusta, Georgia, where he was stationed.
Despite having to postpone the ceremony, things didn’t turn out so bad. Not only is Carpineta celebrating 54 years married to Judy, he credits his Army experience with helping him discover a deep passion for golf. While stationed, he attended the Masters Tournament at Augusta National and witnessed the legendary Arnold Palmer take home the top prize. Though he had never picked up a golf club, Carpineta was hooked on the sport.
Currently 79 years old, Carpineta is going strong on the course. He’s the oldest player to bring home a paycheck at the Philadelphia Section PGA’s FDS Winter Tour, is a two-time recipient of the organization’s Patriot Award and, most recently, earned the coveted title of 2019 Golf Professional of the Year.
Carpineta was selected by the Philadelphia PGA Award Committee out of a pool of more than 100 PGA Professionals who were nominated this past season. For him, receiving this recognition is a true honor.
“It feels awesome, and I feel that it’s worthy to share it with all my fellow professionals and my family. I look at it as our award. Without all these people surrounding me, all my idols, people I’ve looked up to since I got my PGA card, it would not have been obtainable,” he said. “I know that it’s not a lottery that I’ve won. I’ve earned it in a certain way. But I would just love to share it with them.”
The Golf Professional of the Year Award is the highest recognition the Section bestows annually on a distinguished member. Carpineta, who was the Player Development Award winner in 2015 and Patriot Award winner in 2017 and 2018, was honored for qualities of leadership, strong moral character and a substantial record of service to the PGA and the game of golf.
Along with serving on the Section’s Player Development Committee, Carpineta co-chairs the PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) program at the Bensalem Township Country Club, along with the Wounded Warriors Project and Philly VA Amputee Swing endeavor.
HOPE takes place for five weeks in the spring and fall, and Carpineta welcomes all veterans to come enjoy and learn about golf.
“Men and women, disabled, not disabled, good players, bad players, people that have never played before who want to be involved in it,” he said.
Having served in the military himself and having attended many seminars dealing with veterans and military personnel, Carpineta has acquired a sense and feel for the needs of his students, many of whom are battling PTSD or suffering injuries, beyond the lesson tee. By combining his service experience with the requirements of military golf programs, he works to help his students in ways unrelated to golf, serving simultaneously as a coach, comrade and confidant.
This is Carpineta’s 12th year working with veterans, third year hosting the HOPE program in Bensalem and 49th year at the Bensalem Township Country Club. Here, Carpineta began as a part-time janitor while balancing a position at Sears, and steadily climbed the ranks, earning his PGA card 16 years ago.
“It’s kind of a Cinderella story,” he said.
Now, with the title of Golf Professional of the Year added to his resume, Carpineta plans to continue to improve his game throughout 2020.
“I want to be a better player next year, not for myself but so that I can learn more and thus teach my veterans and share with them,” he said.
A number of loved ones and colleagues were thanked by Carpineta for helping him get to where he is today – his wife Judy; sons John and Jeff; and Head Professional Jim Bogan, Bogan’s secretary Kelly Newhouse and Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo, all of whom, according to Carpineta, were instrumental in keeping the country club from becoming housing.
Additional awards distributed by the Philadelphia PGA included Teacher of the Year, Youth Player Development, Merchandiser of the Year and Golf Salesperson of the Year.
“The Philadelphia PGA is extremely proud to recognize our 2019 award winners, which include an accomplished list of PGA Professionals whose dedication to the game is unmatched, and who have been catalysts in the business of golf throughout the region,” said Geoff Surette, executive director, Philadelphia PGA Section. “These individuals represent the best of their profession. We thank them for their service and commitment to golfers and golf facilities across the region.” ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org