On October 6th, many of the top golfers from across the state will gather at the Golf Club at Oxford Greens for one of Connecticut's most storied championships. The list of players in this year’s field includes names like Dave Szewczul, Tom McCarthy, and Brent Dietz - all past CSGA major Champions. But unlike the Connecticut Amateur or Russell C. Palmer Cup, which attracts many of the state's top junior and collegiate golfers, the Connecticut Public Links is geared toward the working class golfer. The championship attracts every type of golfer; bus drivers, bartenders, firemen, waiters, riveters, engineers, and college professors to compete in a two-day stroke play championship.
Since its inception in 1986, the Public Links Championship honors the true spirit of public golf and is open to Connecticut amateur golfers who, since January 1st of the current year, have been bona fide public-course players, and who hold a USGA Handicap index not exceeding 9.0. The inaugural championship was played at Stanley Golf Course in New Britain, Conn. and won by Del Kinney, Jr. of Tunxis Plantation Country Club.
The Public Links Championship followed in the footsteps of the USGA’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, which was first established in 1922 with the mission of giving exposure to many public-course players who otherwise might not have an opportunity to compete in a national championship. The championship's prime mover was James D. Standish Jr., of Detroit, who convinced his colleagues on the 1922 USGA Executive Committee that the time was right for such a grass-roots competition. Standish pointed to the public-course golfer, whose ranks were swelling following World War I, and to the growing number of municipal and daily-fee courses in America.
The first U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship was conducted at the Ottawa Park Course in Toledo, Ohio. The USGA had no way of knowing how many players to expect, but a satisfying 140 entries were received. Less than half that number wore golf shoes. The first champion was Eddie Held of St. Louis, who joined a private club soon after his victory and thus became ineligible to defend his title in 1923.
Last year, the USGA announced the addition of its first championship in more than 25 years with the creation of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship to meet a trend at the state and regional level. In exchange; however, the U.S. Amateur Public Links was played for the final time this year in Newton, Kansas. Because the U.S. APL was played in the summer, it allowed collegiate golfers to compete, and in many respects, became a second U.S. Amateur championship. In its continued commitment to public golf in Connecticut, the CSGA will continue its tradition of the Connecticut Public Links Championship for the foreseeable future.
In 2013, Brent Dietz of Cedar Knob Golf Club captured the Connecticut Public Links Championship at Manchester Country Club by three shots over Bret Lawrence of Crestbrook Park. The win was Dietz's fourth CSGA major, having also won the Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship in 2007 and the Tournament of Champions in 2007 and 2012.