• Leigh Gerstenberger

Axel and the First Tee




One of the highlights of my weekend golf game was being greeted first thing in the morning at Diamond Run Golf Club by Axel, the club’s starter.


Axel was an erudite gentleman who seemed a bit out of place at the starter’s booth overlooking the first tee. No matter how early my weekend tee time, Axel was always there, unlit cigar in hand, with a word of encouragement to share with the members and their guests. From Axel I learned that the response to the greeting, “Top of the morning…” is, “…and the rest of the day to you!”. Over the years, this became the way we would say good morning to one another.


With the given name of Axel, for years I was under the impression that he was of German heritage. Then one day I learned that his full name was Axel Ezzio Quinque, making him clearly Italian!


In addition to his wife and family Axel was also passionate about golf, particularly the First Tee, an international youth development organization that introduces the game of golf and its inherent values to young people.


Many of the club’s members were aware of Axel’s involvement with the First Tee, and would regularly present him with golf balls they’d found around the course, along with other golf paraphernalia that they no longer needed or wanted to be passed on to the kids in the program.


How fitting that from his perch above the first tee, Axel was well positioned to support the First Tee.


I knew Axel was in failing health and hadn’t seen him for a few weeks. Nevertheless, I couldn’t have been more shocked the other day when greeted by the sign posted at the starter’s booth above the first tee.


“Top of the morning Axel…





… and the rest of the day to you!”


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