FORT MYERS, Florida – Holy Land USA is a Waterbury, Connecticut theme park celebrating the story of the Bible and made conspicuous by a 56-foot cross overlooking Interstate 84. Waterbury residents are proud of homegrown legends Jim Piersal, known as the “Waterbury Wizard” and Rosalind Russell remembered as “Auntie Mame.”
Ask residents about “Doctor Cocky” and you’ll get quizzical looks. Yet Doctor Alan Foster, born in Waterbury on November 25, 1942, has a life story as remarkable as Piersal and Russell.
Raised with his two sisters by father, Fred, and mother, Janice, at age 12 Alan Foster was encouraged by his mother to play golf with his father as a way of bonding with the hard-working chemist. At Wilby High School, Alan shot in the 80s and was No. 3 on the golf team. At Depauw University in Greencastle, Indiana he played bogey golf for two years as No. 5 on the squad. After graduating in 1964 he stopped playing golf altogether while attending The University of Indiana earning a Masters Degree in biochemistry. He then graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Degree In Medicine.
While in Arkansas he met Lynne Reed and they were wed on April 18,1968. Alan and Lynne raised Jeff and Diane and were married for 55-years, before Lynne passed away in August.
In 1970, at the age of 31, Dr. Foster moved his family to Syracuse, New York to take an internship in radiology. There the couple joined Bellevue Country Club and Alan Foster’s magical rise to the top echelon of amateur golf began. Despite laying down his clubs nine years before and only playing golf at Bellevue on weekends and with only one formal golf lesson in his life, his handicap rapidly came down to 5. Then in 1975, only five years after taking up golf again, he miraculously won the prestigious New York State Amateur Championship. As prolific careers go Dr. Alan Foster would dominate the local golf scene for the next 30 years, and he would go to dominate senior amateur leaderboards in the United States, England and Ireland from 1995 – 2010.
“I had a very nice run competing in amateur golf tournaments at the highest level of competition,” said Dr. Foster, in an interview from his winter home at Fiddlesticks Country in Fort Myers, Florida, which also is home to two legendary professional golfers – Bobby Nichols and Jerry Heard. “Got to travel to a lot of nice places and play some great golf courses, and made a lot a wonderful friendships along the way.”
Rarely do you see a doctor with a decent golf game, but Dr. Foster maintained a USGA GHIN handicap of +2 for 25 years. He said he was not long off the tee averaging 230-240 yards, and the secret to his low scoring was good putting.
“I did not practice an inordinate amount of time but I was a very good putter and chipper so that enables shooting low scores,” said the 81-year old who doesn’t play much lately. “Golf to some extent is more a mental game than a physical one. I used to play with some very talented players who could hit the ball a mile but their mental game was suspect and prevented them from winning.”
Dr. Alan Foster was inducted into the 2000 Greater Syracuse Hall of Fame https://www.greatersyracusesportshalloffame.com/dr-alan-foster and Class of 2017 New York State Golf Association Hall of Fame. https://nysga.org/about-hall-of-fame/alan-foster Most of his major amateur success came as a senior player about when he retired from his medical career. His Society of Seniors golf league included about 15 tournaments every year. Dr. Foster said his fondest victory was the 2005 Senior British Open Amateur Championship at age 62. He also won the 2007 British Super Senior Championship. Major accomplishments include:
* N.Y.S. Men’s Amateur Champion – 1975 (Runner-up in 1984, ‘85)
* N.Y.S. Men’s Mid-Amateur Champion – 1992, ‘95
* N.Y.S. Men’s Senior Amateur Champion – 2002
* N.Y.S. Men’s Super Senior Amateur Champion – 2009
* U.S. Amateur Championship – 4-time qualifier (1988, ’89, ’95, ’97)
* U.S. Mid- Amateur Championship – 3-time qualifier (1992, ’94, ’95)
* U.S. Senior Amateur Championship – 4-time qualifier (2002, ’04, ’05, ’06), Semi-finalist in 2004, ’05
* U.S. Senior Open Championship – 2-time participant in 2005, ‘06
* British Amateur – 1981 contestant
* British Mid-Amateur Championship – 2000 contestant
* British Senior Open Amateur Champion – 2005 (4x participant)
* British Super Senior Championship – 2007 winner
* British Senior Open Championship – 2006 contestant
* Senior Porter Cup – 2002 winner (1999 runner-up)
* Senior Masters – 2005 winner
Dr. Alan Foster was the last qualifier in the 1975 New York State Golf Association Championship and his confidant demeanor caught the eye of Syracuse Post Standard sportswriter Steve Schulein. Foster made birdies on the last three holes to win the 1977 Gerry Ashe title so Schulein coined the nickname “Doctor Cocky”. Then in 1980 Foster stunned defending Champion and Walker Cup member Duncan Evans with a 40-foot putt in the second round of the British Amateur Championship beating the Welshman by one hole at iconic St. Andrews.
The Championships then came regularly including 9 Bellevue Country Club titles, 8 Gerry Ashe Titles, qualifying in 13 USGA national championships and as a participant in the US Amateur in Newport, Rhode Island he played in the pairing behind a 16-year old named Tiger Woods. This would be Wood’s first national championship.
Internationally, the golfing doctor began competing abroad as early as 1981 when he reached the third round of the British Amateur played at the Old Course at St. Andrews, defeating defending champion Duncan Evans in the second round. Two decades later, he made his way back across the pond to compete in the British Mid-Amateur Championship in 2000. The trophy case is full and the great memories plentiful – a testament to a prolific career in golf and medicine.
GOOD DOCTOR AGES GRACEFULLY
Underneath the confident demeanor is a humble and caring man. Like his famous Waterbury predecessors Jim Piersal, whose battle over bi-polar disease gave hope to the mentally ill and Rosalind Russell, who quarterbacked the Rosalind Russell Foundation For Arthritis, Alan Foster has impacted the world of medicine. As a Radiologist and Nuclear Medicine Doctor for 52-years he was significantly responsible for expanding St. Joseph’s Imaging Associates. Foster is renowned for his expertise in Mammography, Nuclear Medicine and Pet Scanning.
“Syracuse community residents are appreciative of Dr. Foster’s medical contributions,” said longtime friend Sherri Allen. “Alan was always helpful and generous in his time to anyone who had any one who needed professional medical care. Along with oncologist Dr. Santo Defino, they spearheaded St. Joseph Hospital Foundation events.”
When asked what’s the best part of his golf career Dr. Foster humbly responded.
“The best part of my golf career is that my wife, Lynne, traveled with me to every golf tournament and walked every hole at every event. I’m incredibly lucky and grateful. I credit my success to my wife Lynne who passed away August 14.”