Prestigious Norwich Invitational begins on Friday
The much-anticipated local golf event of the summer tees off this weekend.
The Norwich Invitational will take place for the 96th time at Norwich Golf Course.
A testament to the event’s popularity, it took less than 48 hours for all 172 spots in the field to be claimed during online registration. Another 20 golfers joined the waiting list.
“We filled up in basically two days,” Norwich pro Mike Svab said. “It’s a really good sign. We’ve got a good field. A lot of kids signed up that I don’t know and we’ve got a lot of familiar names. My guess is that we have 40 to 50 new players.”
The three-day tournament starts with Friday’s 18-hole qualifying round.
Woodstock’s Dave Marshall, last year’s winner, is back to defend his title. It was the first Invite win.
Former champions Kevin Marcoux, Nick Harrington, Chris DeLucia and Jim Sowders are also in the field.
The top qualifiers advance to match play on Saturday, with the championship in each flight decided on Sunday.
The weather forecast looks promising.
It is usually as hot as the surface of the sun for the Invite weekend, but that might not be the case this year.
The winner will have to survive a grueling weekend, playing five rounds in about 48 hours.
Svab set up the course for the tournament on Tuesday. The course is in terrific shape despite a lack of regular rain.
“Friday’s setup is very, very standard,” Svab said. “We’re not trying to fool anybody. We want them to shoot good scores and have a good time. It’s very fair, even on the weekends now. We’re not doing what we did years ago and there aren’t championship flags on every green.
“We want the guys to play better and make some birdies.”
Svab and his staff work long hours before and during the tournament and do a terrific job. As has been the case for years, John Marion and Larry Carver will run command central.
“We are ready,” Svab said Wednesday afternoon. “We just finished our work an hour ago in the sense we have everything prepared. Everything is set. We’re ready for Friday morning at 6:15.”
With Norwich Golf Course closed for the Invite this weekend and another tourney being held on Thursday, golfers came out in force to play on Wednesday.
“We’re crazy,” Svab said. “We’re packed because it’s the last time there is access until Monday.”
• Dave Jones of Norwich and Bill Hermanson of East Lyme, two former Norwich Invite champs, are bypassing the event this weekend for the first time in a while.
They want to rest for the upcoming 67th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship qualifier on Monday at Black Hall Club in Old Lyme. They are two of the best senior level golfers in the state.
“I don’t want to wear myself out,” said Hermanson, who lost in the Norwich Invite championship flight finals last year. “It’s too much golf.”
Hermanson and Jones also competed in the Connecticut Senior Open at Shennecossett on Monday and Tuesday. Jones won low amateur honors for the fourth time.
Jones will miss competing in the Norwich Invitational.
“It was a real tough decision, because I love playing in the Invite and I play in it every year,” Jones said. “But, my tee time for the U.S. Senior Amateur qualifier Monday at Black Hall is at nine o’clock in the morning. So, if I play five rounds at Norwich, physically, I’d be able to do it, but not mentally.”
Jones credits his strong summer on the golf circuit to some personal growth.
“It’s just my maturity and patience,” Jones said. “And a little perspective in life, too, all the things that are going on.”
Hermanson also feels good heading into Monday’s event. He’s a long-time member at Black Hall. “I’ve been playing well,” he said.
• Shennecossett hosted the Connecticut Senior Open for the 25th time on Monday. That’s an impressive milestone.
Connecticut Section PGA executive director Tom Hantke called the course “a real treasure.”
“We do a lot of events,” Hantke said. “I think this is our favorite. This is the players’ favorite.”
Hantke was awarded the Morrison Medal, which is named after Shennecossett superintendent Eric Morrison, on Monday for his contribution and hard work to making the tournament a huge success.
Shennecossett pro Todd Goodhue has helped host all 25 Senior Opens played at the Groton-based course.
“There aren’t many tournaments in this part of Connecticut,” Goodhue said. “Players like coming out this way and enjoy the golf course. They stay at the casinos with their significant others. It’s just a really good fit. … We consider it a real win for the town of Groton and the golf course.”
• Greg Hopkins sits atop the Elmridge men’s club point standings as of this week. He has 742 points. Bob Gebler is second with 703 and Andy MacMahon third with 651. George Luzzi (628) and Anthony Kargul (618) round out the top five.
• Qualifying for the Elmridge men’s club championship begins Thursday, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org