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Next week, southeastern Connecticut will be tournament-tested

In our local golf world, next week is tournament week. 

Shennecossett Golf Course will host the 38th Connecticut Senior Open for the 23rd straight year, starting on Monday and finishing on Tuesday. 

Later next week, the 94th Norwich Invitational, the oldest running amateur tournament in the state, starts on Friday, July 17, with qualifying-round action and runs through the weekend at Norwich Golf Course. 

Those are two events that have managed to stay on schedule when the coronavirus pandemic has forced the cancellation or postponement of so many other sporting events. 

Both tournaments are as popular as ever.

Yet another full field will compete in the Connecticut Senior Open. Defending champion Robin Byrd of Satellite Beach, Fla., will be on hand to defend his title. He won by an impressive eight strokes in 2019 while finishing with a course-record, two-round total of 130 (65-65). 

Former Norwich Free Academy golfer John Elliott, who was the 2017 champion, also will be competing. He tied for 21st last year. 

“He’s kind of a local hero,” Shennecossett pro Todd Goodhue said. 

Other local golfers playing next week include: Stonington Country Club pro Michael Myszkowski, Archie Cart of Old Saybrook, Baltic’s Philip Krick, Groton’s Jay Dempsey, Waterford’s Bill Ernst, Gales Ferry’s Tony Susi, Norwich’s David Jones, East Lyme’s Bill Hermanson, Great Neck Country Club pro Kevin Shea, Waterford’s Chris Hedden and Westerly’s Mark Toscano. 

There was some concern that the Connecticut Senior Open field may be impacted due to the age of the participants (50 and over) and the fact that some golfers are traveling from other states.

While the field took longer to fill up, it still reached its capacity at 156 golfers. Players are coming from about 11 different states. 

“I talked to Tom Hantke, the (Connecticut Section PGA) executive director a couple of weeks ago,” Goodhue said. “Usually the field fills up quickly. But, as of just two weeks ago, he was only around 120-something. He questioned whether the field would be a full field. But, nope, they filled right up with a waiting list.” 

One thing for sure, next week will be busy for dedicated staff members and volunteers at Shennecossett and Norwich.

Volunteers help make both tournaments run smoothly. They’re dealing with some restrictions this year due to the pandemic. 

“We still have to recruit a few more volunteers,” Goodhue said. “We’re having less of a volunteer force because of COVID. We can’t shuttle players back and forth. My guys can’t touch their equipment. 

“… So there are some things that we have to do a little bit differently. We have to make sure all the carts are sanitized before they go and when they come back in. But my staff has been doing that, so they’re well used to that.” 

Short putts 

• Mitchell College’s Michael McCarthy is the first Mariner golfer to qualify for the Connecticut Open Championship, which is set for Aug. 3-5 at Ridgewood Country Club in Danbury. He shot a 74 in a qualifying event on Monday at the Golf Club of Avon. 

McCarthy started out his round with a bogey on each of the first two holes before finding a groove. 

“Definitely not an ideal start,” McCarthy said in a Mitchell release. “I was a little nervous on the first tee, and though I hit my drive right down the middle, I ended up making bogey. My caddie, Keith, did a great job of keeping me relaxed.” 

McCarthy, who’s entering his junior year this fall, stood at 2-over through nine holes. He made a birdie on the 16th hole to help secure a spot in the Connecticut Open field. 

“I’m going to stay focused and do the best I can,” McCarthy said. “It’s a big event, and I’m looking forward to it.” 

• Two more golfers joined the hole-in-one club. 

Jonathan Loughery used a six iron to ace the sixth hole at Pequot Golf Club in Stonington. Witnesses were Adam Collins, Paul Valentine and Graig Majewski. 

At Stonington Country Club, Frank Livingston recorded his first hole-in-one, accomplishing the feat using a nine iron on the 135-yard, second hole. Evelyn Livingston witnessed the ace. 

• Quarterfinal matchups are set for Pequot Golf Club President’s Cup competition. The next round takes place on Monday, July 20. Chris Trisciuzzi faces Ronald Hantman, Bruce Rebello meets Lance Kupka, Nate Gencarella plays Pete Smyth and Paul Smyth takes on Anthony Davison. 

• A good time was had by all at the 12th Annual Ledyard High School Athletics Golf Tournament last week at Lake of Isles in North Stonington. 

The foursome of Bill Glenney, Bob Cruetz, Tim Cruetz and Josh Tiven posted a winning score of 12-under on the South Course. Dan Grimm, Scott LeSage, Boof Bonser and Mark Contino took second at 11-under. 

Closest to the pin honors went to Dan Delaney while Bonser won longest drive for men and Connie Clabby was the longest drive winner for women. 

On the North Course, Peter Chwaliszewski, Chris Campbell, Justin Carter and Jimmy Jones finished first at 12-under. Second place went to Rudy Bagos, Jeff Beale, Chaz Elliot and Jim Schiovone who posted a score of 9-under. 

Bruce Betts won closest to the pin and Evan Guimond was the longest drive champ. 

• Ray Lathrop and Josh Cameron combined to win the Norwich Golf Course member-guest tournament on June 28. They fired a 63 to beat the second place duo of Todd Lavoie and Shawn Hilario. 

In the net division, Chris Heller and Chris Heller, Jr. took first with a 58 and Bob Malouf and Kevin Rodino placed second at 61.

Roger Carver and Dave Hearrin won the Callaway division with a 67. Steve Gambeski and Tim Hammond took second with a 70. 

• Business is booming at local courses. For example, Shennecossett has added 85 new members since last year.

“We have more members than we’ve had in 10 years,” Goodhue said. 

• Retirement seems to be a good fit for Roger Bidwell, the former UConn Avery Point athletic director and ex-baseball coach. He was spotted Wednesday enjoying a beverage with his playing partners after a round of golf at Shennecossett. He’s playing about four or five times per week. 

• Correction: Made a mistake in my previous column. Ryan Tobin, who works in the Pequot Golf Club pro shop, is the son and not the nephew of owner Bob Tobin. 

Upcoming events

• Norwich Golf Course is running its junior club championship this weekend. 

• The 36-hole Elmridge Golf Course men’s final is scheduled for Sunday, July 26.

• First-round action for the Pequot men’s club championship tees off on July 26. The second round of stroke plays will be held on Saturday, Aug. 1, with the final round on Sunday, Aug 2. 

• Qualifying rounds for the Shennecossett men’s club championship will tee off Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1 and Aug. 2. The event will culminate with the championship final on Sunday, Aug. 16. 

• Stonington Country Club is hosting a CSGA One Day tournament on Aug. 13. Registration is open until July 31. 

• The Norwich Golf Course senior invitational is set for Thursday, Aug. 13, featuring three flights of competition. 

• Please send golf results and items of interest to g.keefe@theday.com

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