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    Sunday, August 14, 2022

    Back on the East Coast, Justin Turner lands as head pro at Stonington CC

    Justin Turner, the new head professional at Stonington Country Club, poses for a photo at the course on Tuesday. (Gavin Keefe/The Day)

    Justin Turner is settling into his first job as a head golf professional.

    He's found a comfortable new home at Stonington Country Club.

    "It's really going well so far," Turner said. "Really great people here. The members have been awesome."

    Turner, who started in late February, replaced long-time pro Michael Myszkowski, who retired after spending about 16 years at the private course.

    Myszkowski, one of the good guys in the business, will be missed.

    "A lot of people told me that I have some big shoes to fill," Turner said. "I wear size 14s, so I already have some big shoes to begin with. Unfortunately, I never really got to meet him. I'm just trying to uphold some of the traditions here at the club and just put my own stamp on it."

    Born and raised in Smithfield, Rhode Island, Turner considers himself a late bloomer when it comes to golf. He first started really getting into the sport at the age of 14.

    His first golf job was at Meadow Brook Golf Course in Richmond, Rhode Island.

    Then Turner headed to California to work at PGA West for a season in 2012, came back home for a job at Potowomut Golf Club in East Greenwich before returning to PGA West, which is in La Quinta, for a nine-year stint.

    At PGA West, Turner worked his way through the ranks and gained valuable experience, going from the bag room to outside services to assistant pro to first assistant.

    Turner and his wife, Amanda, welcomed their first child in August, 2020. Emma will be two years old next month.

    Wanting to move back east to be closer to family, Turner hunted for a new position.

    "I had a couple of different opportunities that didn't really fit," Turner said. "Then I got lucky enough to land here. ... My goal always was to get a head pro job closer to home. I honestly didn't think I'd be this close."

    Stonington Country Club has undergone several changes in leadership positions in the last year or so. There's a new superintendent and general manager.

    Some improvements have been made.

    "It's really exciting," Turner said. "One of the things that drew me here was a lot of changes that were going on. They added the back patio within the last four years. They added the academy and the three indoor hitting bays and expanded the pro shop."

    The overall health of the club is good.

    Membership is close to being full.

    The 34-year-old Turner is working on improving the junior golf program. His team at Stonington includes assistants Shane Marchenkoff and Zach O'Dell

    Right now, Turner is living with family in Smithfield and commuting to work from there. It's about a 45-minute ride.

    "It's a little bit of a hike," Turner said. "I found a couple of good podcasts to listen to."

    The golf business really suits Turner.

    "Like a lot of people, when you first get into it it's because you love the game," Turner said. "You have to love the game. I really love teaching. My father, who's a lawyer, always told me do what you love.

    "I really love the people. That's one of the best things about being in a private place. When you work in a private club, you get to know a lot of people and their backgrounds."

    Short putts

    • Some volunteers are needed to fill roles as spotters at the 40th Connecticut Senior Open, which will run Monday and Tuesday at Shennecossett Golf Course in Groton. Contact the pro shop at (860) 448-1867 for more information.

    Shennecossett will be hosting the tournament for the 25th straight year.

    Charlie Blanchard, Bryant University's golf coach, is the defending champion in the two-day, 36-hole competition. Dave Jones, who's from Norwich and won low amateur three times (2020, 2015, 2012), Norwich Free Academy graduate John Elliott, the 2017 champion, and Bill Hermanson of East Lyme have been regular competitors in the event. Elliot finished tied for fourth last year.

    • The foursome of Shane Edgley, Chris Thomson, Justin Walz and Cory Giordano won the 14th annual Ledyard High School Athletics Tournament on Monday at the North Course at Lake of Isles. They finished at 12-under. Second place went to Bill Glenney, Bob Creutz, Brian Tingley and Mike Nevins who shot 10-under. Brian Goodall, Mike Perrotti, Mike Burbige and Pete Dargenio took third at 9-under.

    Thomson and Ellen Mahoney had the longest drive for a male and female, respectively, while Joe Kubik won closest to the pin honors.

    Tournament organizer Jim Buonocore thanked the Lake of Isles staff, Chris Campbell, Lucas Hitchcock and Bethany Arico for their continued support of the event.

    • Tom McCormick of Waterford joined the hole-in-one club by acing the 142-yard, 12th hole at Pequot Golf Club on Sunday. He used a seven iron to accomplish the feat for the first time in his 45 years of playing.

    He described the shot this way in an email: "Best shot I ever hit on that hole. Nice and high with just a hint of a fade. Bounced twice, rolled a few feet and disappeared. I yelled 'Go in the hole' right after I hit it (as a joke, really) but after so many years I never expected it to go in."

    • Killingly High School graduates Drew Aitken and Jantzen Vargas and Killingly golf coach Kevin Marcoux have qualified to play in the 117th Rhode Island Amateur, which starts Monday at Wanumetonomy Golf and Country Club in Middletown.

    • Waterford graduate Caroline Petchark, who plays out of Great Neck Country Club, is competing in the 57th Connecticut Women's Amateur at Tashua Knolls Golf Course in Trumbull this week. Petchark shot an 80 (43-37) in Monday's first round, ringing up three birdies on the back nine. She's tied for 11th place entering Thursday's final round.

    A two-time Eastern Connecticut Conference girls' individual champion in high school, Petchark attends Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and plays on the golf team.

    Upcoming events

    • The Norwich Senior Club Championship, a two-round competition, is set for Saturday and Sunday.

    • The 96th Norwich Invitational will take place the weekend of July 15-17. It is the marquee local golf event of the season and second oldest amateur tournament in the state. Cost is $85 for members, $155 for non-members.

    • Black Hall Club is hosting a qualifier for the 67th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship on Monday, July 18.

    • Qualifying for the Elmridge men's club championship begins on July 14, with matches starting on July 23.

    • The qualifier for the Shennecossett men's club championship is set for the weekend of July 23-24.

    • The Connecticut Open will run July 25-27 at the New Haven Country Club

    • Round one of the Pequot men's club championship tees off on July 31. Round two and three will be played on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7, respectively.

    Please send golf results, hole-in-one information, etc., to g.keefe@theday.com

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