The 2016 Annual Meeting of the CSGA was held Thursday, December 1st at Manchester Country Club. Among those recognized included the 2016 Players of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Club of the Year. Both Jeff Hedden and Tom Gleeton were also inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame during the 2016 Induction Ceremony.
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The CSGA is proud to recognize Manchester Country Club as the 2016 Distinguished Club of the Year. Established in 1917, Manchester Country Club has been a member of Connecticut State Golf Association since that time and consistently promotes and supports the game of golf as well as CSGA programs and competitions. Manchester Country Club is also proud to be the home club of two CSGA Presidents, J.P. Cheney (1926-1927) and current CSGA President Stan McFarland. Many of the club’s members support CSGA events and programs as players and volunteers and each spring the club hosts a member tournament with proceeds benefiting the CSGA’s Scholarship Fund.
The golf course was originally designed by Devereux Emmet and Tom Bendelow with modifications in 1935 by A.W. Tillinghast. Some of Emmet’s notable designs are Congressional Country Club, Country Club of Farmington and Wee Burn Country Club. Tillinghast is known for designing historic venues such as Winged Foot Golf Club, Baltusrol Golf Club and Bethpage State Park. The Manchester course utilizes the natural character of the land with rolling fairways and small, well-protected contoured greens.
Manchester Country Club (MCC) has hosted several CSGA major championships, including three Connecticut Senior Amateur Championships (1981, 1983 and 2008), one Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship (1948) and the Connecticut Public Links Championship (2013). The club has also been the site of many CSGA qualifiers including the Connecticut Open, Connecticut Amateur and Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championships. MCC regularly hosts SNEWGA and CWGA tournaments and in 2017, its 100th year, the club will host the 52nd Connecticut Women’s Amateur. The playing of that event will also mark 30 years since it was previously held at the club, when it was won by Caroline Keggi.
Following World War II, Manchester Country Club organized and began hosting The Manchester Open. “The Open” was first played in 1946 and was won by Tommy Armour. Over its history; the field has included such greats as Gene Sarazen, Julius Boros, Bob Toski and many other noteworthy amateurs and professionals. The Open is now held over two days each August; Sunday for accomplished amateur players, and Monday for golf professionals.
The Manchester Junior Open in Memory of Ralph DeNicolo, longtime club professional, is hosted by the club during the same week as The Manchester Open. This has led the Mayor and Town Board of Directors to designate the first week in August as “Golf Week in Manchester” In addition, in 2014 Manchester Country Club initiated the Alex Hackney Four-Ball Championship in honor of DeNicolo’s predecessor who was a mentor to many junior golfers.
Manchester Country Club is the home course and practice facility for Manchester High School Boys and Girls Golf Teams and the Cheney Technical School Golf Team. The club awards a free junior membership to a deserving student from each team every year. MCC Director of Golf, John Cook, recently introduced and pays for the SNAG (Start New at Golf) Program in the Town’s Junior High Schools and one club member has established a free Junior Golf Camp in honor of his late father.
In addition to club leagues, tournaments and special events, Manchester Country Club also hosts the Town of Manchester Senior Golf League and is home to the Town Rec League. The Club also grants three free golf days each year to town residents and is a popular venue with charitable organizations for their fund raising events. Membership promotion and introductory programs in 2016 have led to an increase in overall membership by 15%, junior membership has increased by almost 20%, and a 9-hole Women’s League on Tuesday afternoons has attracted 56 beginner and experienced players.
The town-owned golf course is run by Manchester Country Club Inc., which signed a 10-year, $2 million lease in November 2010. In the fall of 2015, the club installed state of the art irrigation and lightning detection systems which provide expanded irrigation coverage and ensures the safety of players and grounds staff. Since 2011 more than $2.5 million has been invested in capital projects and a new maintenance facility is in the planning stages.
The CSGA is fortunate to have a loyal set of volunteers who help make our events possible throughout the season. Each year, the CSGA recognizes a volunteer who has dedicated their time and effort to Connecticut golf and the CSGA for its Volunteer of the Year award. The CSGA is proud to recognize Steve Basson of Ellington, Connecticut and Ellington Ridge Country Club, for his commitment to the game of golf in Connecticut.
Born in Norwich, Connecticut, Steve enrolled at Norwich Free Academy in the ninth grade. During high school, Basson had little knowledge about the game of golf; instead focusing his competitive interests on baseball and basketball, “I did not even know that a 4 iron was longer than a 9 iron,” Basson explained when detailing his lack of interest in golf at the time.
Upon graduating from Norwich Free Academy, Steve enrolled at Providence College where his love for basketball grew. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Math in 1979, and went on to attend the Rensselaer Polytech Institute in Hartford, where he earned a Master’s degree in Computer Science. Basson began his career as an actuary for The Travelers in 1985.
While enrolled at Providence College, Steve met his wife Brenda, which is where his love of golf began. In order to spend more time with his father-in-law, Steve wanted to learn the game of golf. With the occasional assistance of his brother-in-law, he began learning about all aspects of the game and playing regularly.
While he was learning the game, Basson began playing golf with a group at Travelers that would regularly play at Ellington Ridge Country Club. Steve joined Ellington Ridge in 1989, and with the assistance of his wife Brenda, Steve started a weekly Scotch match at Ellington Ridge, peaking his interest in the Rules of Golf. Each week, Basson would develop a series of questions to give groups the chance to earn a mulligan. The questions varied, “anywhere from what color was the flag on the fourth hole, to naming the US Open winner, to any rules question I could find,” Basson stated.
After spending years developing these weekly questions, Steve became very familiar with the Rules of Golf, and in 2004 he decided it was time to apply what he had learned. Steve enrolled in the annual CSGA Rules School that year, which was taught by long time CSGA rules officials John Morris and Malcolm McLachlan. Basson earned his rules certificate in that class, and has been regularly helping golf associations throughout Connecticut and New England since 2005.
After retiring from The Hartford’s actuary program in 2014, Basson has dedicated more time to volunteering with the CSGA. He enjoys trail running and training his dog Hogan. Steve’s love of the game, the Rules of Golf, and his commitment to the CSGA has earned him this year's Volunteer of the Year award.