Morefar: My Perfect Round of Golf
by John Delach
Morefar is a private golf club located in Westchester County owned by Starr Insurance Companies. It is a prestigious profit-making golf course available for outings open to insurance brokers. Morefar was the scene of my perfect round of golf.
Before I begin my story, permit me to provide an interesting background as to how this magnificent golf course came inro existence.
Once upon a time, an enterprising genius by the moniker, C.V. Starr, joined a less than dynamic insurance company, American International Group, better known as AIG, in 1919. Domiciled in Shanghai, Starr started a new subsidiary, American International Underwriters, (AIU) to introduce coverages such as life insurance into many parts of the world where these insurances were unknown. Starr, expanded operations world-wide in the 1930s including countries like the Philippines, Malaya, China and even Japan.
When the Japanese invaded China in 1937, AIU moved its HQ to New York and Starr offered many of his Chinese employees the opportunity to move to America. A sizable number of both white-collar professionals and managers accepted his invitations. But so too did blue-collar service personnel. Many of his service workers went to work at his home in Westchester County or at his offices in New York City. After the war Starr’s business acumen remained strong and he re-claimed AIU’s operations and expanded the AIU empire until his death in 1968.
Starr was never a golfer, he considered the game a waste of time, but he knew a private golf course would be attractive to clients and other VIPs. He commissioned the construction of a world-class course nestled in rolling hills of his extensive property in northern Westchester County. .
Legend has it that when asked where exactly this course was located such as: “Is it near White Plains?” or “Mount Kisco,” or “Bedford Hills,” or “Brewster?” his Chinese workers would reply: “More far, meaning further than that. This expression morphed into “Morefar.” And the name stuck.
A couple of days before the planned outing with Exxon, my father called me to let me know he’d be in town and would like to see me. My first reaction was to blow him off. Fortunately, I caught myself and instead asked him if he’d like to join me in a round of golf at Morefar.
Dad was a former aviator, a navigator to be precise. After his service in WW II, he was discharged like one of the many during the reduction in manpower in the transition to a much smaller peace-time force.
During the late 1940’s he picked up aviation gigs where he could find them. One was flying as C.V. Starr’s navigator for his post-war flights across Japan, Korea, China and the Philippines. My father once told me that Starr offered him a permanent position with AIG, but he didn’t accept it because General Curtiss LeMay offered Dad a promotion to major if he joined LeMay’s new outfit, the Strategic Air Command, better known as SAC.
Still, my old man knew about Morefar and had always wanted to play it. “I’ll pick you up at 8 AM and bring you a decent set of clubs. I’ll explain what this outing is all about on the ride north. Please remember to bring your golf shoes.”
“Dad, this is a strategic round of golf. We’ll be playing with Exxon’s top insurance professionals, Bill J. the president of their insurance operation and his Number One professional, Tom C. You will be playing with Tom . and my boss, Steve P, will be playing with Bill. The purpose of this outing is to set the boundaries for their annual renewal meeting that will be held in our office in London the week of September 5th.”
When we met for breakfast at the club’s dining room, I announced to all: “The role of John Delach in today’s outing will be played by John Delach, Sr. You all know the extent of my inadequacies on a golf course, and I guarantee you will be happy with this substitution.”
My father didn’t disappoint. A gregarious and knowledgeable man, a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, and a WW II hero. I had nothing to lose by enlisting John, Sr. Sure, he can be a train wreck, but he is completely charming in small doses. Eighteen holes was close to that limit, yet I was confident that I could observe the ebb and flow of conversation, humor, war stories and gentle ribbing before any crisis developed.
This decision to include my old man turned out to be brilliant. He held his own on the course and entertained my other guests while I negotiated the order of march for our meetings in London. By the end of the round, I had Bill’s agreement to a draft outline that I would have typed up and sent to him the next day for comments and changes. I didn’t expect objections, nor did I receive any.
Dad couldn’t stop carrying on about the round of golf and the dialogue that he witnessed. “I never understood what you did and what you brought to the table. OMG, what I observed today was a major summit, not of political ideas, but a summit between a major oil company and a skillful insurance operation. I am impressed.”
“Dad,” I replied, “I appreciate your being there and, believe me, you were an asset in my negotiations. But, do you know what was the best part of today’s round for me?
“Let me explain. Today was a perfect round of golf for me. I never touched a club, hit a ball, or suffered an embarrassment Instead, you carried the irons and the woods, made the shots while I concentrated on conducting business. I will always remember this as my perfect round of golf.” .