It’s a given that David Epstein of Crestmont Country Club loves golf. In fact, it would be difficult to find someone who loves the sport more than he.
“Golf has dictated everything I’ve done in life,” said Epstein, who started in the sport as a caddie at age 14, earned a full-tuition NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation grant to Rutgers University, and has been a committee member on the Caddie Scholarship Foundation for two decades.
He served for five years (2006-10) on the NJSGA Board of Trustees including three years as NJSGA treasurer from 2008-10. He also serves on the NJSGA Advisory Committee of Past Board Members.
He is a 32-year member of Crestmont and board member there for 16 years, serving mostly as treasurer.
“When I met my future wife Fern, she told me played golf and that caught my interest. Two months later, we played at Galloping Hill, and she kicked my butt. I said ‘I’d better marry this girl.’ “
Epstein grew up in Springfield, just 300 yards from the entrance of Baltusrol Golf Club. From his first job there as a caddie at age 14, Epstein has been fascinated by golf.
Besides carrying bags there, he worked in the pro shop cleaning clubs, a job no one wanted except him. After work, he would find time to play golf, always playing his final three holes in the dark.
“I didn’t grow up in a country-club world. Baltusrol was my sanctuary. I would play golf when it was 15 degrees outside. Nobody would stop me. It was a different world back then. I was busy all the time. When I started as a caddie, I was getting $4 a bag. But as time went on, I was able to make so many connections that helped me in life.”
At Jonathan Dayton Regional High School in Springfield, Epstein played four years of football and golf, and two years of basketball. He was a member of the National Honor Society.
He graduated Rutgers in 1974 with a degree in business administration and later received an MBA in accounting. Today, he is the chief financial officer of IdeaVillage Products Corp. a thriving mail-order business. One of their known products is the Copper Fit line with former NFL star Brett Favre.
Epstein has always kept the Caddie Scholarship Foundation in the forefront of his priorities.
“I wanted to give back. I want to perpetuate caddies and their role in golf. I still walk myself. I hate riding carts. “
“We are very thankful to David, a former caddie scholar who has given back to the NJSGA while serving for many years on the Caddie Scholarship Foundation. He has been instrumental at Crestmont raising money for caddies as a representative of the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation. He is very dedicated and passionate about helping caddies,” said Ben Del Vento, chairman of the foundation.
Epstein has also made his mark as a golfer, entering numerous NJSGA Championships. He has recorded four holes-in-one. In his first tournament, the 1987 NJSGA Mid-Amateur Championship, he was one of 31 qualifiers to compete. With wife, Fern, the Epsteins once were runners-up in the MGA Mixed Pinehurst; they also finished third in the NJSGA Mixed Pinehurst.
He fondly remembers playing in the NJSGA Senior Amateur Championship about 10 years ago as a foursome with notable scratch golfers, Ned Steiner, Allan Small, and NJSGA Hall of Famer Bob Housen.
“I held the tee honors until the ninth hole, but I screwed up on the back. I missed the cut by one shot.”
He’s also proud of how he got his father involved in the sport. “After he retired in the 1990s, he got a job at the Crescent Driving Range and spent seven years there. He redid the whole range. The funny thing is he never hit a golf ball in his life. Once, I gave him clubs and he gave them away.”
Epstein was one of the earliest supporters of the First Tee program in New Jersey, acting as NJSGA liaison to the program.
He is equally proud of his family. Fern has 15 club championships at Crestmont and the Epsteins have together as partners won more than a dozen club titles.
Children Aaron and Alyssa also love golf. Aaron captained the Livingston High School boys’ team, on which Alyssa also played. In 2007, David and Aaron won the member-member championship. In 2017, Aaron was runner-up in the Crestmont men’s club championship. Alyssa, who was a Rockette at New York’s Radio City Music Hall for 14 years, outdrives her mother on the links.
“Golf is integral in our lives. My daughter’s birth announcement was on a pink golf ball; my son’s on a blue golf bag. “
Epstein has also marshalled in major events at Baltusrol, three times at the U.S. Open and twice at the PGA Championship, and the last three as marshal captain.
“David finds peace on the golf course. For 30 years, we traveled to Puerto Rico with four golf bags. We went skiing as a family in the winter,” Fern Epstein remembered.
“Coming from a family that didn’t play golf, I think he appreciates the game more – and that means all things associated with golf, starting with caddieing,” she said.
“As a board member for the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation, he is able to give back to the golf community which gave him so many opportunities. He feels it’s his way to thank the people who helped him along the way.”
The Epsteins first grandchild, Ty, has his own baby golf cart and golf clubs.
Today, Fern serves on the board of the Women’s New Jersey Golf Association, along with Sissy McCabe of Baltusrol. Sissy’s parents, Baltusrol members Betty Lou and Joseph McCabe, were instrumental in helping David receive his NJSGA caddie scholarship to Rutgers. McCabe himself served as president the NJSGA from 1970-71.
“Giving back is one of the most passionate things in his life. I think it’s his first love! There is not one thing he doesn’t like about it,” Fern said.