QUECHEE – The first groups in the field for Friday’s qualifying round of the Tommy Keane Invitational were called twice from the Quechee Club course and back to the tournament headquarters at Murphy Farm because of a lightning strike. When they had finished their round, the early rain had subsided, the dark sky had cleared and a beautiful afternoon was just around the corner.
It was a fitting first day for the annual sunshine event as it found a home in Quechee this year.
“We talked about different places over the summer and this was high on the list because they have two seats and we wouldn’t interfere with the members’ game,” said Jim Jankowski, who teamed up with son Andrew for the last TKI in the now closed Hannover Country Club 2019. “I didn’t know anything about Murphy’s Farm. It’s fabulous. Hanover has always been something special, but this is a really strong golf course. “
For the match play on Saturday, teams with former winners of the four-ball event first qualified. Scott Peters and Andy Hydorn, together with the team of Craig Steckowych and Brett Wilson, shot 6 under par 66. In the absence of wind and a soft course due to the rain, eight teams shot in the 1960s.
Peters, who was instrumental in bringing the Keane to Quechee after spending a year at Lake Sunapee CC, couldn’t be happier with the reception of the new venue.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “If the weather is good, the next 2½ days will be spectacular here. The people are overjoyed. “
Count Steckowych, who won Tommy Keane with Brian Doyle in 1997, ’98 and ’99, among those who welcomed the move to Quechee.
“I have very fond memories of this golf course because I won the New England Amateur here,” said the golfer from Greenland, NH. “It’s a wonderful place for the tournament. When we got here today it didn’t look like we were playing and it’s pretty amazing how it went. “
Mike Kelley from Maine, whose father Fred, along with Seaver Peters, was instrumental in making the tournament a fixture in the Upper Valley, was not at all surprised that it continued to thrive.
“It’s resilience and endurance that keep it going,” he said. “Seaver died and my father died, but we have to continue. It’s not just a few individuals who make it happen. It’s a community that does that. People like the Cioffis (Dave and Ron) who would never get near the championship flight but keep coming back to play and support the event. “
While veterans of Keane like the Cioffis are critical to the tournament’s success, they praise a relative newbie for helping them land in Quechee.
Frank Lombardi only played his first Tommy Keane a year ago, but the transplanted Massachusetts golfer quickly fell in love with the tournament and urged it to be brought to his home club after learning it needed a new venue.
“I had a great experience playing at it and thought with two golf courses and Murphy’s Farm it would be perfect,” he said. “I was on the golf committee and pushed for it to be brought here. When members didn’t want to close the course for a weekend in July, I suggested moving it to September and the rest will be history. “
Jankowski, who won the Seaver Peters Award at the Tommy Keane dinner last night for his contributions to the event, welcomes the move to Quechee. But he knows the tournament is about more than the scores, or the venue, or even the sun breaking through to shine on the event.
“Is it still Tommy Keane here?” He asked. “It’s the people who make it what it is. I see people here I haven’t seen in a year, so yeah. It’s Tommy Keane. “