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Rolling with the swings; Golf keeps Joyce rolling along.

Byline: Jay Gearan

FITCHBURG -- Golf is difficult, and it's much more difficult for Jerry Joyce. But he loves the sport so much he won't let anything stop him from his weekly rounds at Oak Hill Country Club.

"I play twice a week, sometimes three times a week, all the time,'' said Joyce.

Burdened with pulmonary thrombosis in both lungs, Joyce, who recently turned 76, has to have a continuous flow of extra oxygen around the clock.

"No one loves Oak Hill or the membership more than Jerry Joyce,'' said longtime head professional Jim O'Leary. "His whole thing in life is to be here with all the friends he's made over the years.''

The oxygen tanks sit in the golf cart with Joyce, and he is able to drive to where he hits his golf ball and maneuver into place for his next shot.

"My nurse made me an extra 25-foot extension for the cord,'' Joyce explained. "I'm able to plug that into my tank, which stays in the cart. I come around the back of the cart close to my ball and the tube comes up my back and then into my nose. I don't have the cord dangling in front me. I'm very fortunate to have the equipment I need.''

In 2011 Joyce endured six medical operations, including two heart valve replacements, two pacemaker defibrillator procedures and two stomach surgeries.

"It was code blue on me one time, but I wasn't ready,'' said the ever-positive Joyce with a chuckle. "I've been great since. Life is good, very good. The whole story is you just can't give up. You gotta get up every day and make it happen. In my opinion, there are only three things in life that are important: family, friends and God.''

And then there's golf.

His favorite hole at Oak Hill is the dog-leg ninth, a par 4. "That one has always set up well for me the way I bend the ball to the right,'' he said.

His only hole-in-one- -- so far -- came on the par 3, fifth hole at Oak Hill. "That was in 2001. I used a seven-wood.''

Joyce, who resides in Worcester, has been a member at Oak Hill for 34 years. This summer he hasn't missed a Thursday Twilight men's league nine-hole match at Oak Hill.

In 2000 he was awarded the Golfer of the Year Award in the Thursday Twilight League. Joyce said he's always up early on Friday mornings looking at the newspaper results in the Telegram & Gazette, and frequently sees his name among the winners.

After playing Thursdays nights, Jerry can't wait until two days later, when he needs two oxygen tanks in his cart. "That's when I play with my Saturday buddies,'' he said.

Those would be Joe Battaglia, Bruce Vaughan, Bill Long and John Gallagher.

"We all admire Jerry and the way he keeps playing golf,'' said Gallagher.

For years, Joyce owned GT Joyce Electrical Sales Inc. in Holden. He still works full time and is a sales representative for Rexel Electrical Distributor.

Joyce and his wife, Elizabeth, have three children, Craig, Lee Ann and Daniel, and three grandchildren.

"On golf days, we get those tanks in the car, one in the trunk and one in the back seat, and off he goes, all equipped,'' said Elizabeth. "And when he arrives, he gets such great help from the pro shop, getting ready.''

Joyce was very pleased with the recent celebration at Oak Hill for Jim O'Leary, who has been on the scene for half a century. Joyce was one of the members who gave a presentation to O'Leary.

"It was one of the best events I've seen in all my years at Oak Hill,'' Joyce said. "It was an awesome, big-time evening. We had 636 people there, including champions of the past and people from the PGA. Jim is such a great guy.''

Joyce added, "I've been at Oak Hill for 34 years, but I'm just a baby compared to some of the players there. It's a very special club.''

And Jerry Joyce is a very special member.
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Title Annotation:Weeklies
Author:Gearan, Jay
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 19, 2014
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