Since their inception, Carmen Molinaro has been the face of Buffalo Grove's golf courses.
This week, the Buffalo Grove village board said goodbye to Molinaro, who has retired from his position running the Buffalo Grove and Arboretum golf courses.
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"I'll finally get to play some golf, which, when you're in the business, you really don't get to do," Molinaro said after Village President Jeffrey Braiman read a proclamation honoring his service to the village.
Molinaro, 63, who lives in Algonquin with Susan, his wife of 26 years, said he has big plans for his retirement.
"One of the crazy things I have always had on my bucket list was to go to every major league baseball stadium," he said, adding that the project will probably take five or six years.
When asked about the highlights of his 39 years at the golf course, he said, "it's really the friendships and the relationships that I have maintained and created and will continue on into the future."
As for the biggest challenge, Molinaro said it has been the changing market over recent years. The pendulum has shifted from overdemand and undersupply to oversupply and underdemand, he said.
That said, the village's golf courses are on a stable financial footing, with weather being the major variable.
"When the weather is good, both businesses are relatively healthy," Molinaro said.
Molinaro, who graduated with a business degree from Northern Illinois University in 1972, began at the Buffalo Grove golf course in 1973, when it was still in private hands. Shortly after he joined, the village bought the course on Raupp Boulevard.
"I did play golf but had no intention of getting into the business," Molinaro said.
Over the years, Molinaro's work has garnered honors. He was the 53rd person to receive the highest honor a PGA professional can achieve, the PGA Gold Professional of the Year Award, which recognizes the promotion of golf and charitable involvement. He also was accepted into the Illinois High School Coaches Golf Hall of Fame in 1995 for his efforts in promoting junior and high school golf programs.
In 2005, Molinaro was selected as the Illinois PGA Public Merchandiser of the Year.
"You have truly been an asset to the village for a long, long time," Braiman said during the village board meeting. "You have touched a lot of people's lives. You have made the experience on the golf course a great one, and we really appreciate everything you have done."
Molinaro acknowledged the work has been equally rewarding for him. "It's really been a labor of love. I have enjoyed every single year," he said.