GROTON — With a thunderous hum of golf cart engines, the third annual Groton Golf Association Course Improvement Tournament was off and running.
The event drew 44 golfers.
Local businesses in town helped sponsor holes during the tournament. For that, tournament co-director Bill Quigley is grateful.
“Generally, the Filhos and everybody else gets hit up by everybody, and they always donate,” Quigley said. “If you ask them for it, they say ‘sure, glad to support it.’ A lot of them live in the town, and they are really community oriented. Everybody has a story about this place.”
When Quigley moved to Groton, he saw the Groton Country Club as a main attraction in the community.
“I can come out in the middle of the day, play nine holes and go back on the phone with the west coast, and no-one knows I am gone,” Quigley joked. “We are limited in the number of teams by the course because otherwise, it takes five or six hours. You make a lot more money, but we thought it would be a lot more fun to play it like this.”
Groton Country Club manager Bob Whalen has been overwhelmingly supportive of the GGA’s efforts to help preserve the beauty of the town-owned course.
“The proceeds of this, they turn around and donate it back to course improvement,” said Whalen. “Over the last two-years, they raised just over $8,000, which covers half the cost of the ninth tee-box. We couldn’t do it without them.”
The ninth-tee box, noted Whalen, underwent a major transformation from the small blue markers it once had. Now, the ninth hole is dressed up nicely with immaculate landscaping and a stone terrace-like facade.
Wang Computer Company, which has since folded, was the owner of the country club prior to the town taking over. Wang had an agreement with the town if the company paid $70,000 per year, its employees could use the club free-of-charge. The agreement was for 20 years, but it took Wang 21 years to pay-off the total amount. In those 21 years, no improvements were made, thus resulting in the current state of the nine-hole course.
“I won’t know until they (the Groton Golf Association) tell me how much they raised,” said Whalen. “I think it was a good turnout. So, that together with the silent auction and the 50/50 raffle — everything helps. This is a slow pull back to refurbishing the whole place, but we’ll get there.”
Jane Barrett was an original member of the inaugural GGA committee, and she has seen the course improve over the years.
“Between doing our cleanup in the spring and meetings, this is our biggest tournament,” Barrett said. “I think as Bill said, we are making the town a lot more aware, and there is a lot more interest.”
Jim Hanlon is one of the organizers of the event and he, along with Quigley, were unimpressed with course conditions. In the GGA’s first course clean-up, Hanlon noticed that there was a lot of excitement surrounding the association’s efforts to renovate the club.
“We got more participation this year,” said Hanlon. “We thought we were going to get upwards of 52, the maximum you can have. We lost a foursome last week. These are all people who have a vested interest in the club.”
The men’s foursome of KC Johnson, Jim Rindo, Joe Reynolds and Matt MacDougall took home the top prize, shooting 21-under-par, with their combined score of 49.
As the golfers dispersed off the links to the clubhouse for the post-match meal, it was apparent that the mood was gleaming as bright as the warm summer sun.
“Everybody had a great time,” said Quigley. “The weather makes a big difference. They are like-minded people doing good and having fun. You can’t beat that.”