On August 19th and 20th, the best mid-amateur players from across the state will head to Hop Meadow Country Club in Simsbury, Conn. for the 27th playing of the Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship.
Who Can Play? The championship is open to any amateur golfer in Connecticut who will have reached their 25th birthday by August 19th, 2014, and who has a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 6.4.
A National History: In 1981, the USGA inaugurated its first new championship for amateurs in four years, the U.S. Mid-Amateur. The Mid-Amateur, for amateur golfers of at least 25 years of age, was instituted as a formal national championship for the post-college amateur. Before the arrival of the Mid-Amateur, the post-college player could compete in the Amateur Championship, sometimes successfully, but these older amateurs faced greater odds. While they fit their golf around their work and families, they were most often competing against college golfers, for whom the game is close to a full-time activity.
Seven years after the birth of the U.S. Mid-Amateur, the CSGA instituted its first new championship in six years with the inaugural playing of the Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship in 1988.
Last Year’s Championship: In 2013, Ben Hunter of Sterling Farms Golf Club captured the 26th Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship at Fairview Farm Golf Course in impressive fashion, shooting a final round 68 for a three-round total of 209 (-7) to win by three strokes over Philip Perry of Black Hall Club.
The Host Club: Hop Meadow Country Club was established in 1961, with the championship course designed by Geoffrey Cornish. The course, which features dramatic elevation changes and a challenging set of green complexes, will be set up to play at approximately 6,788 yards and a part of 72. The club has previously hosted the Mid-Amateur three times (1999, 2005 and 2012), the Russell C. Palmer Cup twice (2009 and 2011) and the Connecticut Amateur once (1995).
A total of 87 players will begin their quest for the 27th Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship. 64 players earned their way to Hop Meadow CC by qualifying at one of two sites across the state, and 23 players were exempt based on previous accomplishments.
Last Year’s Champion, Ben Hunter, of Sterling Farms Golf Club, will not be returning to defend his title. Hunter recently accepted an internship at the famed California Golf Club in San Francisco, Calif. and will be pursuing a career in golf management.
Last year’s Runner-Up and 2008 Russell C. Palmer Cup Champion, Philip Perry of Black Hall Club, will be seeking his first Connecticut Mid-Amateur title after finishing second by three shots last year. Perry also finished third in the 2012 Connecticut Mid-Amateur, which was held at Hop Meadow Country Club.
A total of 6 past Connecticut Mid-Amateur Champions are in the 2014 field. They are: Raymond Floyd, Jr. (2011 Champion), Brent Dietz (2007 Champion), Bill Hermanson (1990, 91, 92, 93 and 2001 Champion), Kevin Foster (1998 Champion), Jim Gentile (1997 and 2004 Champion) and Dave Szewczul (1996 Champion).
Qualifying Medalists: Both Nick Bogannam of the Patterson Club and Chet Hrostek of Oxford Greens Golf Club claimed medalist honors at their respective qualifying sites and will be seeking their first Connecticut Mid-Amateur title.
Dave Szewczul, the 1996 Mid-Amateur Champion from Tunxis Plantation Country Club, enters the Mid-Amateur seeking to capture his second CSGA title of the 2014 season. Earlier this year, Szewczul won his third-straight Senior Match Play Championship and fourth-overall title. The five-time defending Senior Player of the Year currently holds a 713 point lead in the 2014 Senior Player of the Year race.
Bill Hermanson of Black Hall Club currently holds the record for most Mid-Amateur Championship titles with five. Hermanson was inducted to the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 2012 for Distinguished Golf Achievement.
Ivan Lendl, of Torrington Country Club, is playing in his first Connecticut Mid-Amateur, having recently been reinstated as an amateur. Lendl is a former world #1 professional tennis player and captured a total of eight Grand Slam singles titles during his career.
At age 66, Jack Bracken of Hartford Golf Club is the oldest competitor in this year’s field, but enters the championship as one of the favorites to etch his name on the trophy. Last year, Bracken won his first CSGA Championship by capturing the 68th Connecticut Senior Amateur at Tallwood Country Club.
Raymond Floyd, Jr.of Innis Arden Golf Club is the most recent past champion in the field, having captured his Mid-Amateur title in 2011 at The Farms CC. Floyd is the son of PGA Hall of Fame golfer Raymond Floyd, who won a total of 22 times on the PGA Tour including two PGA Championships, one U.S. Open and one Masters Tournament.
At 25 years-old, Tom McCarthy of the Course at Yale will be competing in his first Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship, but will have plenty of positive experience to draw upon when he steps on the first tee. McCarthy won the 2009 Russell C. Palmer Cup, which was contested at Hop Meadow Country Club, defeating Mike Ballo, Jr. in a playoff after shooting rounds of 77-73-71--221.
Steven Velardi of Race Brook Country Club is one of three past Connecticut Amateur Champions in this year’s field, having won the Amateur in 2004 at The Patterson Club. Earlier this year, Velardi captured the Two-Man Team Championship at Black Hall Club with partner Nick Cook, a two-time Connecticut Open Champion.