Announcing the 2010 Doc Graves Volunteer of the Year

By Bill Huffman

Michael Saladino remembers the first time he ever met the legendary Doc Graves, the man who defined volunteerism in Arizona amateur golf.

“First Doc gave me an intense interview about golf courses and rating them, and then he gave me grief about being a New Yorker from Queens,” said Saladino, 65, a retired regional manager for Conn-Edison who moved to Fountain Hills 10 years ago.

“But what a great person. To receive an honor named after Doc Graves . . . I didn’t even know I was being considered.”

Since that memorable day seven years ago when Michael met Doc, Saladino has helped Graves and his survey crew rate more than 150 golf courses throughout Arizona and Mexico. It is a labor of love, Saladino added.

“I really enjoy it because you get to learn about the course, the history the people who play it, and you meet a lot of really interesting people,” he said. “You know I was never really a numbers-type guy, but I’ve been able to pick it up with a little help from Doc and his guys.”

So having seen so many of Arizona’s finest fairways and greens, which course is Saladino’s favorite?

“Oh, that’s kind of a trick question, isn’t it,” said Saladino, who plays out of SunRidge Canyon when he’s home.

“Honestly, I like to play all over the state because Arizona has so many great golf courses,” he said. “And I like to rate them almost as much as I like to play them.”

And what is the one thing that Saladino has learned most from the good Doctor?

“Well, he’s taught me a lot about where the best places to eat in Arizona can be found,” Saladino said with a laugh. “In fact, I think Doc knows just about every dining proprietor and restaurant in Arizona.”

Saladino is right down the middle of the fairway with that assessment, as Graves knows food ALMOST as well as he knows the game.