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    Monday, December 11, 2023

    Shennecossett a draw for golfers competing in the Connecticut Senior Open

    Connecticut Section PGA executive director Tom Hantke, left, presents the 2022 Connecticut Senior Open championship trophy to Alan Sorensen of Bakersfield, Calif. Sorensen, slated to return for this year’s event, finished the 36-hole event at 3-under to win by two strokes at Shennecossett Golf Course. (Gavin Keefe/The Day)
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    Local golfers have always known that Shennecossett Golf Course in Groton is a gem.

    Word of the course’s reputation has spread well beyond southeastern Connecticut.

    A prime example is the Connecticut Senior Open, which Shennecossett will host for the 26th straight year on Monday and Tuesday.

    The 144-golfer field filled up in two weeks after registration opened for the event, which will feature amateurs and professionals, ages 50-and-over, from 14 states. Fifty people are on the waiting list.

    The popularity of the tournament is a testament to the Shennecossett course and staff, including pro Todd Goodhue and superintendent Eric Morrison and his crew.

    Golfers not only love the course but also the proximity of the casinos, especially Mohegan Sun, the event’s sponsor.

    “It’s a compliment to the golf course and a compliment to the area,” Goodhue said Friday. “There aren’t too many tournaments state-wide that are over here in this area of Connecticut.

    “… It’s a popular venue because we’re unique. We’re a links style golf course, a historic golf course, a Donald Ross golf course, so we have that appeal. These guys are golfers, so they appreciate that aspect of what we are.”

    Golfers will notice a few changes on the course.

    Work was recently completed on improvements on the front nine.

    “We redid the bunkering on 3, redid the bunkering and green complex on 4,” Goodhue said. “We did the bunkering on 6. We did an expanded and new tee box on 7. It’s quite a facelift and a new, nice look to the golf course.”

    “... It’s not a redesign, it’s just a facelift. It’s not changing the footprint of what Donald Ross put in. It’s just redoing the bunkering because they haven’t been redone in 30 years. It looks fantastic.”

    More improvements are planned for down the road.

    “There are actually five phases, and this was an extensive first phase,” Goodhue said.

    Next on the list: the green complex on No. 5 and No. 7 as well as bunkering on No. 7 and green complex on No. 8.

    Goodhue appreciates the support from the Town of Groton.

    “The town realizes that we are an asset, so they foot the bill for the capital improvement projects,” Goodhue said. “... There have been studies that show the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are brought into the area because of the golf course to the local restaurants and the hotels and so forth.

    “So they understand we are an asset and we reflect back on the town of Groton so they will support us and we’re very appreciative that they do.”

    As far as the Connecticut Senior Open, 10 former champions will be in the field for the two-day, stroke play tournament. The lowest 70 scores and ties will advance to Tuesday’s second round.

    Alan Sorensen of Bakersfield, California, is back to defend his title. His winning score was 3-under 139 (66-73).

    He raved about the course and tournament after winning last year.

    “My wife and I had never been out to this part of the country and we fell in love with it,” Sorensen said. “So now we’re making it an annual trip to play in this event because it’s a great event. I get to play a little golf and she gets to do a little shopping, so it worked out perfectly.”

    Local golfers expected to be in the field include Archie Cart of Old Saybrook, Bill Hermanson of East Lyme, Dave Jones of Norwich, Philip Krick Jr. of Groton, Jim Lathrop of North Stonington, James Lawler of Colchester, Kevin Shea of Waterford, Tony Susi of Gales Ferry and Mark Toscano of Westerly.

    Last year, Jones captured low amateur honors for the fourth time in the 40th running of the tournament and tied for 10th overall at 3-over 145 (71-74).

    Short putts

    • Norwich Golf Course recently crowned its junior and senior club champions.

    Nick Wigfield posted a two-round total of 161 (78-83) to capture the junior title and Tyler Hollis finished as the runner-up at 172 (83-89).

    Doug Smith won the senior championship with a two-round total of 155 (76-79). Jim Sowders was a close second at 156 (76-80) and John Crocker took third at 159 (80-79).

    • The 15th Annual Ledyard High School Athletics Golf Tournament was a rousing success once again. There were 128 golfers who turned out Monday to play the South Course at Lake of Isles and raise money for a good cause.

    First place went to the foursome of Steve Smith, Jonah Dupuis, Dee Welch and Ethan Magnuson who combined to shoot 18-under. Mark Patterson, Dan Betzold, David Engle and Cam Perl took second at 11-under.

    Bill Gulley won closest to the pin contest at No. 11. At No. 5, Erik Soderberg had the longest drive for the men and Jane Robinson for the women.

    Athletic director Jim Buonocore appreciated the support of the Lake of Isles staff, including Justin Carter, Nick Spano and Bethany Arico.

    • Stonington Country Club recently hosted the Connecticut Women’s Golf Association Championship and Founders Cup competitions.

    Lisa Fern-Borros won the Championship Cup, defeating Jean Sennett on the 19th hole. Fern-Barros also won her previous two matches in extra holes, winning in 19 holes in the quarterfinals and 21 holes in the semifinals.

    Michelle Murphy was the winner of the Founders Cup, closing out the competitive match against Christine Bishop on the 18th hole.

    • Tim Murray of Quinnatisset Country Club reached the semifinals of last week’s CSGA’s 17th Senior Match Play Championship, falling to Dave Olender of Ellington Ridge, 2 and 1 at Black Hall Club in Old Lyme. Defending champion Dave Jones of Mohegan Sun Golf Club bowed out in the quarterfinals, losing on the 19th hole to Mark Vassalotti of Sterling Farms.

    In Thursday’s final, Glen Boggini of Manchester Country Club defeated Olender in 19 holes.

    • Dave Jones, Bill Hermanson of Black Hall, Andrew Cavasino of Great Neck and Steven Ferraro of Quinnatisset have qualified for the 89th Connecticut Open Championship set for July 24-26 at Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington.

    • A major senior tournament will be played next summer just a short drive away. The 44th U.S. Senior Open will be held at Newport Country Club from June 27-30 in 2024.

    Upcoming events

    • Qualifying for the Elmridge men’s club championship will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

    • The 2nd Connecticut Girls Junior tournament will take place Tuesday and Wednesday at Fairview Farm Golf Course in Harwinton. Zorah Williams of Stonington Country Club will be in the field.

    • The Southeastern Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SCADD)/Shaun Cashman Golf Tournament will tee off Thursday at Norwich Golf Course. Cashman, who passed away in 2012, is a former Commissioner of the Department of Labor for the state and was a dedicated volunteer for SCADD.

    • Registration is open for the 97th Norwich Invitational, which will run July 14-16 at Norwich Golf Course.

    • Qualifying for the Shennecossett men’s club championship will take place on July 22 and July 23.

    • The Connecticut PGA Junior TOUR will make a few local stops this summer. The Old Lyme Junior Open tees off on July 31. Shennecossett will host the Players TOUR Finale on Aug. 17 and Fox Hopyard in East Haddam will be the spot for the Players TOUR Cup (Invite only) on Aug. 22.


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