The One Hundred Fourteenth playing of the state’s oldest amateur golf tournament will be played at the historic Wethersfield Country Club for the fifth time in tournament history. The “Club of Champions, which is celebrating its one hundredth anniversary in conjunction with the championship, boasts one of the most storied histories of any Connecticut club.
Always in excellent playing condition, Wethersfield Country Club is renowned as the site of the Insurance City Open/Greater Hartford Open for 32 years from 1952 until 1983. All of the great professionals of the day played at Wethersfield with only two exceptions, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, although Nelson did appear there in an exhibition.
Of course, Arnold Palmer won his first PGA Tour event in the United States at Wethersfield in 1956 while Jack Nicklaus was never successful in winning at Wethersfield. Ted Kroll (the leading money winner on tour) won the inaugural event in 1952, followed by Bob Toski in 1953 (his first tour win), Tommy Bolt in 1954 (who shot 60 for the course record), Sam Snead in 1955 (who won by the largest margin of victory of 7 strokes that still stands), and Arnold Palmer in 1956 (beat Ted Kroll in a playoff).
Later winners included Palmer again in 1960 in another playoff, Gene Littler (1959), Billy Casper four times (1963, ’65, ’68, and ’73), Ken Venturi (1964), Charlie Sifford (1967), Gene Littler (1959), Bob Murphy (1970), Lee Trevino (1972), Hubert Green (1981), and Curtis Strange (1983).
More than the ICO/GHO, Wethersfield CC is known in Connecticut as the “Club of Champions” so named by Hartford Times Golf Editor Skip Henderson. The extraordinary play of its members in state, regional, and national competition over a period of nearly 50 years from the 1930s into the 1970s warranted the appellation. Bob Zaiman, sportswriter for the Hartford Courant, states “that anything happening in Connecticut golf in that era was happening at Wethersfield Country Club.”
Eight WCC members are included in the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame for distinguished golf achievement and four for service to the game. Wethersfield’s members have won thirty-six state team championships, nineteen State Amateur titles, four State Open championships, five Senior championships, five New England Amateur titles, as well as junior championships, and innumerable medalist honors in major events. In 1971 alone, Wethersfield golfers won the State Amateur, the New England Amateur, the state Team Championship, the state Senior title.
Wethersfield Country Club was designed by Robert D. Pryde, who became the first Executive Director of the CSGA and was inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 1999. In addition to designing Wethersfield Country Club, he also designed the original course at New Haven Country Club, Indian Hill Country Club and Race Brook Country Club. In 1917, the original “inside nine” holes between Prospect Street and Highland Street were opened and the clubhouse dedicated. In 1925 the “outside nine” holes south of Highland Street were opened to complete this championship course.
The 2016 Connecticut Amateur will mark the fifth time that the state's top amateurs have come to Wethersfield Country Club to crown a champion. The club has also previously hosted four Connecticut Open Championships, one Connecticut Women's Open Championship, one Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championships, and three Connecticut Senior Amateur Championships.
Past Amateur Champions from Wethersfield Country Club (Host Club in parenthesis)
- 1932 - R.M. Grant (Shuttle Meadow CC)
- 1940 - H.H. Mandly, Jr. (Shuttle Meadow CC)
- 1942 - E. Wilkos (CC of Waterbury)
- 1946 - R.M. Grant (New Haven CC)
- 1947 - H.H. Mandly, Jr. (CC of Waterbury)
- 1949 - H.H. Mandly, Jr. (Wethersfield CC)
- 1950 - W.W. Markham (Brooklawn CC)
- 1952 - R.M. Grant (Shuttle Meadow CC)
- 1957 - Don Hoenig (New Haven CC)
- 1963 - Allan Breed (Wampanoag CC)
- 1967 - James Grant (CC of Waterbury)
- 1970 - Fred Kask (Shuttle Meadow CC)
- 1971 - William Brew (Woodway CC
- 1977 - Fred Kask (Wethersfield CC)
- 1980 - Fred Kask (Shorehaven GC)
- 1987 - Fred Kask (Wethersfield CC)
- 1989 - Roger Everin (Tumble Brook CC)
- 2013 - Cody Paladino (New Haven CC)
- 2015 - Evan Grenus (Black Hall Club)
~ Article by Dick Zanini, CSGA Scholarship Chair