(September 30) Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame member Fran Marrello leads a group of six state club professionals competing October 3-6 in the 31st Senior PGA Professional Championship at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin.
Besides Marrello, who won his seventh Connecticut Senior PGA Professional Championship at the Course at Yale in August, they are:
—Joe Cordani, Director of Golf and Operations at Hop Meadow Country Club in Simsbury, who was second at Yale, has qualified twice for the Travelers Championship and won multiple titles in Connecticut and New England.
—Mark Farrell, Director of Instruction at H. SmIth Richardson Golf Course in Fairfield, who was third at Yale.
—Mike Martin of Tashua Knolls Golf Course, a club fitting and equipment expert, who won the 2018 Connecticut Senior PGA Professional Championship.
—David Dell, of Springfield, Mass., Country Club, who is a member of the Connecticut Section and a regular member of the PGA’s Julius Boros Challenge Cup side.
—Shaun Powers, a teaching professional at Fairview Country Club in Greenwich, who won the 2019 MGA Senior Open at Metropolis in August.
For Marrello, 65, the trip to Texas, or at least to a national professional championship, is old hat. It will be his 28th national club pro championship, 12 of them as a senior. The seven-time Connecticut PGA Player of the Year and PGA and Connecticut Hall of Fame member has participated in two PGA Senior Championships, four U.S. Open championships, and, before turning pro, three U.S. Amateur championships. He is the longtime head professional at Canaan Country Club and certainly the elder statesman of the state’s contingent.
“Fran has been a long-time friend, and to see what he has accomplished over his career is just amazing,” said Cordani. “His longevity is a testament to his skills, but more importantly to his mindset, his determination and attitude. He’s the consummate professional and gentleman. It will be a treat to play a practice round with him prior to the championship. For Cordani, Austin will be a return to form and to national competition. He played in the PGA Championship in 2004. “It’s been a long time, and I’m very much looking forward to competing,” he said.
It still gets Marrello’s juices flowing, too. “It’s always exciting and an honor to play in a national event. It’s more of a challenge every year as the young seniors come out and I’m heading the other way. My goal will be the same, to try and make the cut and go from there," said Marrello.
These aren't the only players with Connecticut connections in Austin these days. Three-time Connecticut Open Champion Frank Bensel, Jr., who now lives in Jupiter, Fla., and teaches at Century Country Club in Westchester, is also in the field at the Senior PGA Professional.
Also in Austin on September 27-29, and also at the Omni Barton Creek Resort, Alex Beach, Jason Caron and Danny Balin competed in the PGA Cup, which pitted a team of ten U.S. Club professionals against a team from Great Britain and Ireland. Beach, of Stamford, is an assistant at Westchester Country Club. Balin of Greenwich has been a frequent competitor in the Connecticut Open. Caron, the 2012 Connecticut Open Champion is the husband of Liz Janangelo Caron, the four-time Connecticut Women’s Open Champion after whom the Connecticut Women’s Player of the Year is named.
Thanks in part to singles victories on Sunday by Beach and Caron, the U.S. team prevailed over GBI 14-12, the final-day comeback (victory in eight of 10 matches) a record.
In short, there has been and will continue to be a whole lot of Connecticut in Texas through the first week in October.