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U.S. Open 2019: Bill Perocchi’s remarkable journey from the projects to the shrine of American golf

by Ron Kroichick, Golfworld

Bill Perocchi’s office conveys his status in golf circles. Start with its prime location, overlooking the practice green at Pebble Beach Golf Links—no more than a pitch shot from the No. 1 tee at one of the world’s most storied courses.

The photos lining the walls reinforce this lofty realm in which he resides. There’s a splash of childhood idolatry—namely, Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski tipping his cap to the Fenway Park crowd—but mostly there are shots of Perocchi posing with famous golfers, sports figures and celebrities, from Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth to Tom Brady and Clint Eastwood.

Nice company for a kid from the projects.

Perocchi, longtime chief executive officer and part owner of the Pebble Beach Company, didn’t grow up envisioning this gilded life. He never imagined shepherding Pebble through its role as U.S. Open host, as he’s doing for the third time this week.

One of the most prominent people in golf grew up in one of the poorest cities in New England. Perocchi lived in the stadium projects of Lawrence, Mass., about 30 miles north of downtown Boston.

His upbringing was tumultuous and tragic. Perocchi’s mom died in a car accident when he was 9. His dad, a World War II veteran, suffered from a disability and struggled to keep the family together. They lived in a cramped apartment, six people sharing one bathroom. “Billy almost brought himself up, to be honest with you,” said Steve Kelley, associate director of the Lawrence Boys & Girls Club. “He and the kids who lived in the projects kind of took care of each other.”


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