New England golf lost a good friend and benefactor when William A. Sandri, proprietor of Massachusetts’ Crumpin-Fox Club, Connecticut’s Fox Hopyard, and Fox Hollow in Florida passed away last month at the age of 67.
Sandri, who died on December 11 at his Crystal Beach, Fla., home after some six weeks of declining health, helped his father, A.R. Sandri, grow the family’s oil business into a multi-state enterprise. But it was his passion for golf for which members of his clubs -- whom he considered “an extension of the family,” according to Ron Beck, director of the Sandri Companies’ Fox Golf -- will remember him.
“Bill was a visionary and a pioneer in the golf world,” Beck recalled in a letter to those of us fortunate enough to enjoy the superior facilities that Sandri oversaw since purchasing the Roger Rulewich-designed Crumpin-Fox in 1987. “His commitment to excellence has been recognized throughout the golf industry.”
Indeed, it has. Crumpin-Fox is a perennial Top 10 finisher in Golfweek’s annual roster of the country’s best public courses. Fox Hollow Golf Club in Trinity, Fla., opened in 1994 as the last course that Robert Trent Jones Sr. built and designed. The third facility in Sandri’s portfolio was Haddam, Conn.-based Fox Hopyard GC, another Rulewich gem that opened to wide acclaim in 2001.
“[Bill] will be missed,” Beck told us in an e-mail on Wednesday, “but part of his legacy will be the wonderful playgrounds he left us with.”
A generous philanthropist, Sandri championed several causes, none dearer to him than the Big Brothers Big Sisters. A Big Brother in college, he hosted an annual golf tournament at Crumpin-Fox that, since the event’s inception in 1981, has raised nearly $900,000 for the local chapter.
“Bill was committed to being a good corporate citizen and his generosity and philanthropy toward various causes is well-documented,” Sandri’s son-in-law, Timothy Van Epps, who became president of the company in 2007, told the (Greenfield) Recorder. “None made him more proud than the work he did to help found the local chapter of the mentoring organization of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and he passed away peacefully knowing that his legacy will live on through the Franklin County chapter of that association.”
Kay Johnson, former executive director of the county branch, echoed Van Epps’ sentiments.
“He understood how important mentoring was, and that not every kid had the economic advantages he did,” Johnson told the Recorder. “He was our guardian angel, who helped organize annual golf tournaments that sustained the organization.”