Groton — David Jones reached a milestone in April, turning 50.
That's reason to celebrate if you're a competitive golfer like Jones.
Jones became eligible to play in senior events, including the 30th Connecticut Senior Open.
A Norwich resident, Jones made a sparkling debut at Shennecossett Golf Course, riding a steady all-around game to low amateur honors and a fourth-place tie overall.
He battled his way through a bumpy stretch to fire a 73 in Tuesday's second round and finished at 1-under 141, tying Jerry Courville of Stratford. James Becker of Windsor captured his first Senior Open title with a 4-under 138, winning by two strokes.
"It's just a privilege to play in something like this," said Jones, who plays out of Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug. "I had a wonderful time playing. ... It felt really good. It was a neat environment to be in."
His wife, Jo Ann, served as caddy both days and fought back tears talking about her husband's accomplishment.
"He grew up on this course," Jo Ann said. "I'm emotional. It was special. I'm very proud of him."
Jones, a former member at Shennecossett, figures he's probably logged 700-800 rounds here, including several last winter playing with Tony Susi, a friend and former high school golf teammate at Waterford.
Susi was there to root on Jones during Tuesday's second round. "He loves playing this course," Susi said.
Jones certainly embraced the course in his first round on Monday, recording six birdies on the way to a 3-under 68 and a tie for second place. He made two long distance putts, one from 45 feet on the 11th hole and another from 50 feet on No. 14.
But his putter cooled off a bit Tuesday.
"My putting was fantastic (Monday)," Jones said. "Today, it just seemed like the putts were just lipping out. Sometimes that's the difference between a 68 and a 73."
He stumbled midway through his round, hitting a rough spot starting on the ninth hole, which he bogeyed. He uncharacteristically pulled his drive out of bounds on the 11th, leading to a double bogey. Another poor tee shot caused him to bogey the 12th hole.
"I'm definitely going to be thinking about those and figuring out why I just lost concentration just for a few swings," Jones said.
But he recovered nicely, posting consecutive birdies on No. 17 and No. 18 to close out his Senior Open experience in style.
"I never gave up and I battled all the way," Jones said, "and I finished strong."
Jones has enjoyed some quick success on the senior circuit. Playing in a U.S. Senior Open qualifier last month in Massachusetts, he missed advancing by just a shot, settling for second alternate.
'That would have been this week," Jones said of the U.S. Senior Open. "So it was a good alternative to not make it and play here. I can play in the Norwich Invite at the end of the week, too."
Three other local golfers played on Tuesday. Bill Hermanson of East Lyme put together two solid rounds, shooting a 74 and 75. He tied for 21st at 7-over 149.
"I played well but I didn't get a score out of it," Hermanson said. "This course, if you're a little off, you think you should be making birdies and you make bogeys."
David Wheatley of Oakdale finished tied for 50th with a 154 (73-81) and Dale Ezyk of Montville tied for 71st with a 159 (78-81).
During the awards ceremony, the Connecticut Section PGA honored Shennecossett superintendent Eric Morrison who became the first recipient of the Morrison Medal.
The Morrison Medal will be given annually to "a person who truly emulates the spirit of the Connecticut Senior Open and works tirelessly to make it happen."
That description certainly sums of Morrison's contributions. Once again, golfers raved about the condition of the course.
"It's such a great place to play," Becker said. "I'm really proud to win here."