The Russell C. Palmer Cup is again back in its traditional home, the Country Club of Waterbury, on May 26-27.
The 17th Palmer Cup, presented this year by Chris Cote’s Golf Shop, is Connecticut’s premier amateur stroke play championship. It will be the 11th time Waterbury has hosted the event.
Last year, in a windy, final-round war of attrition, Silver Spring Country Club’s Rick Hayes overcame the late lead of 2018 Amateur Champion Ben Conroy, to win by a shot. (Conroy won the Amateur at Waterbury). Chandler Morris of Waterbury, who had briefly taken the lead on the final day, finished third at +12.
The victory represented delayed redemption for Hayes, who, as a member of the Colgate golf team, had lost the 2006 Palmer Cup in a playoff to Bill Hadden.
In 2019 Hayes co-medaled with high-schooler Jackson Fretty in round one, slipped to 76 in round two, and then fought his way back with 71 in the final round. Hayes’ up-and-in from in front of the 18th green and Conroy’s double there, proved the difference. Cool, difficult conditions on day two resulted in high scores. “It was some of the toughest wind I’ve ever seen or played in,” said John Abbott, 2018 Public Links Champion. Hayes finished at +9, Conroy at +10. A year prior at the Country Club of Farmington, Brian Ahern had won at five under.
Hayes used the Palmer Cup victory as a springboard to a strong year. He came within a shot of winning the Mid-Amateur Championship at Shuttle Meadow Country Club in July, losing in a playoff to Ben Day.
Named in honor of the former CSGA Executive Director and Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame member, the Palmer Cup comprises 54 holes over two days. The low 39 scores and ties in round one advance to day two’s 36 holes.
The Country Club of Waterbury was founded in 1899 with a nine hole course constructed by Waterbury native Arthur Fenn. In 1927, the club hired noted golf architect Donald Ross to develop a first-class 18-hole layout on a combination of existing and newly acquired land. The current Ross course opened for play on Saturday, September 15, 1928, and has been a staple on Connecticut championship golf schedules ever since. It’s par-4 second hole is considered among the best in New England.
For the 2020 Palmer Cup the course will play to almost 6700 yards, par 69. Hayes, Conroy and Morris are all expected to return.