The pandemic sparked a surge in interest in golf over the past year as people flocked to the courses in the area to escape quarantine life.
The golf rush continued into this year.
Classes in the area are just as busy on New Year’s Eve as Times Square.
“It’s incredible,” said Pequot Golf Club professional Bob Hill.
“We are bullied absolutely every day,” said Shennecossett assistant professional Casey Roan.
Elmridge Golf Director Chris Jurgasik added, “It was only broadcast. We thought there was going to be some kind of relegation and we don’t see it. It’s going strong.”
That’s good news for local clubs that needed a boost in the years leading up to the pandemic.
Newcomers took up the sport. Others dusted off their clubs and started playing again while the regulars played as many rounds as possible.
“All golf needed a boost,” said Jurgasik. “It went slowly backwards for a few years.”
Now the biggest concern – out of the weather – is housing the crowds rather than trying to spark interest in the sport.
Golfers’ biggest concern may just be trying to get a tee time, especially on the weekends. And showing up on a course without a reservation is likely to mean a long wait or a quick trip home without swinging a club.
At the Shennecossett, tee times are available one week in advance. Weekend games until around 4 p.m. are usually sold out within an hour.
“It’s been busy all the time,” said Roan.
The number of members, which has increased significantly in the last year, continues to rise in the regional courses.
For example, Pequot has added around 40 new members, while Elmridge has as many as 20 members.
“That’s a lot these days,” said Jurgasik.
Shennecossett has around 320 total members, which Roan says is by far the most members of the club.
“We have a lot of younger members,” said Roan. “In the past, before COVID, we had maybe four junior members. Now we have to be over 50 junior members.”
Activity has also increased in other areas.
Golf trips are returning after many local groups took vacations last year.
More and more golfers are registering for events in their respective clubs.
When booking lessons, the professionals are already ahead of the previous year.
There is no end in sight to the Golf Rush.
“It was crazy,” said Roan. “I saw (Pro) Kevin Shea on Great Neck last week. He said they are crazy there too, and they are private.”
“Everything is booming,” said Hill. “It is nice.”
• For the second straight year, Mohegan Sun Golf Club’s Dave Jones had a good run this week in the Connecticut State Golf Association’s 15th Senior Match Play Championship at Torrington Country Club in Goshen.
Jones qualified for match play and then reached the quarterfinals before losing 3 and 1 to Brownson Country Club’s Bob Murphy on Thursday. The match was tied for 14 holes before Murphy won three straight holes to claim victory.
Last year Jones shared the medalists in stroke play and then advanced to the semi-finals.
Jones has got off to a strong start this season. He has won three CSGA One-Day tournaments, tied in second place in two and tied in third place.
• The semi-final pairings will be determined for the Elmridge Golf Course Senior Club Championship. Lou Laudone plays Anthony Kargul while defending champion Pete Stefanski takes on George Luzzi on Saturday. The winners play in the championship game on Sunday.
• Three holes in the Pequot Golf Club have a new look. Bunkers have been removed from No. 4, No. 6 and No. 16.
“We took out the traps, filled them in, and made some nice patches of grass,” said Hill. “It’s easier to maintain … and just to make it look better.”
In other club news, the competition for the presidential cup is ongoing. The field has been reduced to the last eight, with Anthony Davison being the top seed. The winner will be determined on July 12th
• Hole-in-One Club: 15-year-old Alexander Salerno scored an ace on the 112-yard hole on the 7th hole at Cedar Ridge Golf Course in East Lyme. He used a pitching wedge.
Jay Knight also cracked the 127-yard, 18th hole at Cedar Ridge to do the trick for the second time, the first time since 1999. Michael Tomaszek had his hole-in-one at the 104-yard, 4th hole.
• Phil Levine and Arthur Bogen won the men’s membership tournament together at the Old Lyme Country Club last weekend, while Paula Bingham and Patty Kurlansky took the women’s membership title on Tuesday and finished the game on the 17th hole. Katie Bolo and Jodie Godbut took second place.
The women’s golf association’s league season began with an opening dinner on June 3rd.
Old Saybrook’s Helene Nichols won a Flag Day event on June 17th. Michelle Abraham from Old Lyme finished second and Esther Boyle from Essex came third. The format included that each golfer received a flag with an individual number of strokes allocated based on their handicap. When a golfer reached the limit, she was out of the game.
• In early spring, George Thurrott won the men’s President’s Cup at the Norwich Golf Course, with John Crocker finishing second. Lorie Jakubowski was the master of women.
• The Black Hall Club in Old Lyme hosted the 22nd Connecticut Women’s Open, the two-day event, from June 7th to 8th. Melissa Siviter of the Golf Club of Georgia was the champion with a 2-over 146.
Lynn Valentine, a former St. Bernard High School and University of Hartford golfer, took 25th place with 161 (78-83). She won the event in 2008. Waterford Graduate Caroline Petchark also competed in a 172 (88-84) shooting.
• Waterford’s Great Neck Country Club’s Matt Fuller made it into the 119th Connecticut Amateur match play at Hartford Golf Club earlier this month. After firing a 144 (68-76), Fuller earned 29th seed ahead of Christopher Ayers of Goodwin Golf Club # 4. He lost 3 and 2.
Here is an amazing story. According to Golf Digest, Swiss golfer Jurg Randegger set a world record for the most holes in 12 hours or less at the East Swiss Golf Club in Niederbüren at the end of May by completing 252 holes in 11 hours and 22 minutes. He walked the course using only one club, a seven iron.
He played a total of 14 rounds that day and covered 57 miles. He landed five birdies and fired a 90 on his final lap.
• The Connecticut Senior Open returns to Shennecossett Golf Course in Groton next month. In its 39th year, the tournament will take place on Monday and Tuesday, December 12-13. July, knock off. The deadline for entries is Tuesday.
• The 95th Norwich Invitational, the summer local marquee tournament, will take place July 16-18 at the Norwich Golf Course. Registration ends on July 14th or when the field is full. Call the Pro Shop at 889-6973 for more information.
• Qualification for the Shennecossett Golf Course Men’s Club Championship will begin on the weekend of July 24-25.
• The Old Lyme Country Club is a stop on the Connecticut PGA Junior Tour. The Nine Hole Old Lyme Junior Open will tee off on August 2nd. And the final of the Players Tour will take place on August 18th in Shennecossett.