Pictured Above: Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame Members in attendance. Back row (L to R): Reverand Bill Lee, Ted May, Dick Siderowf, Tom Lane, Dennis Coscina, Richard Zanini, Bruce Berlet, and Dave Szewczul. Front Row (L to R): Tim Petrovic and Malcolm McLachlan.
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~ By Bruce Berlet, 2009 Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame Inductee
Tim Petrovic is unique among the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame’s 90 inductees. He’s a lover of Van Halen, and Jim Morrison and The Doors. He plays guitar and performs trick shots on a pool table. He won on the PGA Tour after overcoming bankruptcy by selling cell phones, delivering newspapers and working with wife Julie at a Pizza Hut in Florida.
“I worked so hard for so long to get out on the PGA Tour and then stay out on Tour. I am grateful to have that work recognized.”
“It’s a huge honor to be included among so many golf greats,” said Petrovic, who lives in Austin, Texas, with Julie and their two daughters. “I just bought a picture and canceled check of Gene Sarazen’s because I’m a fan, and now we’re both in the Hall of Fame together? Crazy!”
Petrovic starred at Glastonbury High before becoming an All-American and four-time All-New England selection at the University of Hartford, where he played with two other future PGA Tour players, Jerry Kelly and Patrick Sheehan. He graduated in 1988 with a degree in communications and four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
Petrovic won the 1986 New England Amateur, and the 1988 Connecticut Amateur. He turned pro in 1988 but didn’t play a full season on the PGA Tour until 2002. In the interim, he competed on six mini-tours, scraping by with a bizarre collection of odd jobs.
He met his wife while hawking cell phones and delivering The Hartford Courant. The latter was the worst of his tough jobs when done in the dead of Connecticut winters. The printers’ ink rubbed off on every bit of his clothing. Customers complained about the paper not being inside the door. Petrovic’s old Volkswagen strained under the load of the Sunday edition.
“I’ve got 600 pounds of paper in the back, and the Volkswagen is doing a wheelie,” Petrovic said. “It’s dark, cold. I remember delivering papers and freezing to death.”
Pressure wasn’t having to make a 5-foot putt to make the cut in a $6 million tournament. It was having to get a good tip from that next pizza delivery to fill the gas tank. That was especially true when Petrovic’s sponsor pulled out while he was on the Nike Tour.
The Petrovics drove through tour stops in a non-air conditioned Ford Tempo with a luggage rack on the roof, often taking ice from hotels so they wouldn’t have to buy it for their cooler and loading up on extra mustard and ketchup packets from McDonald’s. Julie bought 50-cent tortillas and filled them with sour cream, shredded cheese and Buddings meat, which cost 55 cents a packet.
“We ate those for breakfast, lunch and dinner for months,” Julie said. “To this day, Tim will not eat any kind of tortilla roll.”
Despite their frugality, Tim and Julie were $35,000 in the red as they left Arizona for Florida. On the trip home, they stopped to visit Julie’s sister, Jennifer, at Trinity College in San Antonio, Texas. They found an empty dorm room next to Jennifer’s, put two mattresses together and slept on the floor.
“We weren’t supposed to be in there,” Petrovic said. “Then Jennifer fed us on her student meal card. She wasn’t supposed to do that, either.”
"We came home pretty deeply in debt,” said Julie, who sometimes caddied for Tim on the mini-tours. “Our combined income was like $13,000. We were eating a lot of peanut butter and jelly. We were sleeping in our van. My friends and family were worried about me. They wondered where we were going to live. I was always defending him, saying, ‘He can do it. I know he can do it.’ ”
“Julie is my rock,” Tim said. “She’s always kept me on the right path and supported my dream 100 percent. I would not be where I am today without her. We make a great team. She actually quit her job and moved to Florida with me so I could pursue my dream.”
The Petrovics began to emerge from their financial woes in an unexpected way when Tim won $30,000 for finishing third in the Dave Pelz World Putting Championship.
“It basically gave me an opportunity to really work on my game and play when I was down and out,” Petrovic said. “Otherwise I probably would have stopped playing [competitively]. That’s where I really started figuring things out. I made $30,000 finishing third in putting tournament! Go figure.”
In 2000 Tim was named Player of the Year on the Golden Bear Tour after winning four times and finishing first on the money list with $166,000. He followed that up by earning the cherished PGA Tour card in 2001 when he finished seventh on the Buy.com Tour money list with $239,010.
As a rookie on the PGA Tour in 2002, he tied for second in the FedEx St. Jude Classic and had earned more than $1.1 million on three tours. He remained on golf’s biggest stage for more than a decade and earned nearly $12.2 million thanks in part to his younger brother Steve, who caddied for Tim off and on from 1989 to 2009, including during Tim’s only PGA Tour victory, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in 2005.
Tim made a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to get in a playoff and then parred the first extra hole to earn the $990,000 first prize.
“I knew we were in good shape because Tim had never lost in a playoff,” said Steve, who lives in Farmington with wife Andrea and their two daughters. “The win was really big for the whole family because it had been 18 years of working so hard, but I never doubted Tim would get on the PGA Tour.”
“When we went to Timberlin (Golf Club in Kensington) as kids, he would never come home. He hit balls all the time and was like the brother that everyone hated because he always won. He could get up-and-down from the center of the earth and was the best putter that I ever saw until we played with Tiger.”
Now 51, Petrovic has added $343,171 in 20 starts since joining the Champions Tour in 2016. That includes playing in the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event in Japan, the Japan Airlines Open, in September with youngest daughter Mackenzie, 16, caddying for him (Bayleigh is 18).
“It was a great trip,” Petrovic said. “She even carried the big bag on Sunday.”
Golf has always been a family affair for Petrovic, who started playing the game at age 7, hitting balls with his father, Bob, at Indian Hill Country Club in Newington.
“I would go with him to the range and just start beating balls,” said Tim, who will be presented for induction by his father. “Sometimes he would go play a round with his buddies, and I would stay on the putting green for 5-6 hours until they finished, so putting really became my strong suit throughout my career.”
It was around that same time that Petrovic became a devoted fan of the 1960s rock group, The Doors, whose lead singer Morrison was one of Tim’s heroes growing up.
“I’ve always been a big Doors fan and Nirvana groupie,” Petrovic said. “I also play the guitar as a hobby, and my girls took it one step further and actually compose music as well.”
Fittingly, Petrovic’s favorite Doors songs are “Waiting for the Sun” and “Strange Days.”
“Those titles pretty much sum up my story,” Petrovic said.
Longtime CSGA official Malcolm McLachlan is the 2017 Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame inductee in the area of Distinguished Service to Golf. McLachlan served as CSGA Director of Rules and Competitions for fourteen years and is also known for his years of involvement with the USGA and his dedication to furthering Rules of Golf education and awareness.
McLachlan’s service to the CSGA began in 1990 as a member of the CSGA Executive Committee. During his time on the Executive Committee he served as 2nd Vice President, Vice President for Club Relations, and Vice President for Competitions. McLachlan is an emeritus member of the CSGA Board of Directors, a member of the USGA Rules Committee, USGA Senior Amateur Championship Committee and a member of the New England Golf Association. During his career he has served as the Official in Charge at hundreds of CSGA tournaments and USGA qualifiers, and has been widely recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the Rules of Golf in the Northeast.
“I have known Malcolm for 35 years. His love of the game and reputation as a true gentleman has earned him the respect and friendship of the entire golfing community not only in Connecticut but on a national level as well”, stated Dave Szewczul a multi-year CSGA Player and Senior Player of the Year and 2010 Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame inductee.
In 1997, at a time of reorganization at the CSGA, McLachlan initiated and organized the Club Representative program which remains an important foundational component of the organization. Through his efforts he recruited a number of volunteers, many whom continue to be involved to this day. In his role as Director of Rules and Competitions, he was instrumental in elevating the quality of CSGA events particularly in the areas of Rules education and the introduction of comprehensive pace of play policies. Over the years, McLachlan has conducted countless Rules of Golf workshops resulting in the accreditation of many CSGA Rules Officials and has delivered his popular presentation on the Most Misunderstood Rules of Golf to many interested club members throughout the region.
“Malcolm is one of the best Rules men I’ve ever known,” said CSGA Executive Director, Mike Moraghan. “It is rare to find someone with his level of knowledge and experience, and his contributions to the CSGA have been monumental for many years.”
Competing as a player in many CSGA championships dating back to the 1960s, McLachlan’s golfing history started as the scion of a founding family at the Ridgewood Country Club in Danbury, CT where he has enjoyed a lifetime affiliation. Over the years McLachlan served that club in many capacities including twelve years on the Board of Directors and Committee Chair for Golf and Greens during which time the course saw two major renovations.
On the golf course, McLachlan won the Junior Club Championship and was three time Senior Club Champion. He was a two-time Club Championship finalist, one-time Member-Guest Champion and winner of the George McLachlan 4-Ball Championship twice. McLachlan was also a Senior Club Champion at Palm Beach Polo & Country Club twice, Past President of the Junior Senior Golfing Society, and a member of the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda for nearly 50 years as well as quarter finalist in the Bermuda Invitational.
The Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame dates back to 1955 when Robert M. Grant was inducted for his “Distinguished Golf Achievement.” In 1957 Wilton W. Sherman became the first inductee in the category of “Distinguished Service.” McLachlan becomes the 90th overall inductee into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame, and the 39th selected for Distinguished Service to Golf.