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After going winless in 2015, Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club got things rolling in 2016 capturing four titles on his way to his seventh Dick Siderowf Player of the Year honor in the past eight years. During the 2015 season Szewczul was in contention in nearly every event he played, and although it was winless, it was a season that saw him qualify for the United States Amateur Championship in Illinois.
As with all great players, Szewczul looked to build on his steady play heading into this season, and re-enter the winners circle. Approaching the 2016 season with higher expectations than in the past, Szewczul used his competition to motivate himself. “You know you have to be at the top of your game every tournament and I’d like to thank my competition for their outstanding play which keeps me driven. It forces me to keep my game sharp in order to be competitive and fortunately, with a bit of luck, I have been successful in doing that.”
Szewczul started off the 2016 season by teaming up with the 2015 Dick Siderowf Senior Player of the Year winner Bill Hermanson of Black Hall Club at the Two Man Team Championship hosted by Black Hall in May. During the second round, the pair rode Szewczul’s hot putter to capture a one shot victory. While his game seemed to slow as the summer progressed, with missed cuts at both the Connecticut Amateur and the Connecticut Open, Szewczul was able to regain the momentum he started the year with by once again pairing with Hermanson to win the Senior Four Ball Championship hosted by Great Neck Country Club. “I had high expectations for this season; I wouldn’t go into the year with anything less. I felt that I was able to persevere through the injuries, and that although my expectations were high, they were still attainable.”
Despite his early success in the 2016 season, Szewczul’s last individual victory had come at the 2014 Senior Match Play Championship. However, in September, Szewczul broke through to capture the Connecticut Senior Amateur at the recently redesigned Madison Country Club. With some difficult conditions throughout the Championship; Szewczul recorded a first round of 2-over 72 to sit just two back of the leaders. A final round score of 3-under 67 catapulted Szewczul to his first individual title in over two years, and a four stroke victory at Madison. Just a few short weeks later, Szewczul would find himself in the winner’s circle yet again, capturing the Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship at Wampanoag Country Club. After a first round of 1-under par 71, Szewczul was in a position heading into the 36 hole finale on day two. “I tried not to panic after the first and second rounds because I know that everyone else is going to be going through the same situations, and hopefully staying steady would help me come out on top.” During the second and third rounds, the wind and weather were fluctuating causing some havoc, but his patience and steady play to shoot rounds of 69-72 helped him claim the title by two shots.
With his victories this season, Szewczul has mastered career longevity, capturing at least one win in each of the past five decades. But with such longevity, there are always a few obstacles to overcome. Lingering back and wrist issues have sidelined Szewczul at times. However, his love of the game has certainly proven strong in overcoming these injuries. “I had to learn to cope with the injuries mentally, knowing that I may not execute everything the way I wanted because I could not put in the same amount of time practicing that I had in the past. In a different way this year was very gratifying because I did grind through.”
Szewczul has earned praise from fellow competitors and golf officials across Connecticut for his fine play over the years. Glen Boggini, the 2014 Connecticut Public Links champion from Twin Hills Country Club describes Szewczul as "both timeless and amazing." CSGA Executive Director Mike Moraghan says, "Dave is really an inspirational figure to a lot of people. He sets the standard for outstanding play, especially among seniors. He's not only one of the best senior players in New England; he is one of the best seniors in the entire country. I really think he has raised the bar so high that all who try to compete with him are working a little harder trying to match his game. Great players like Dave often inspire others who know they really have to bring it in order to compete with him. In that way I think he makes the whole landscape of senior golf in Connecticut better and stronger."
As another championship season comes to a close, Szewczul looks to get some rest during the off season and get healthy for next year. “I am definitely going to do some fishing, it’s my second love you could say, deep sea fishing with my son David. It has helped me stay hungry for golf because I do not play golf on the weekends, it keeps me from burning out.” With some rest and some fishing to help clear his mind and ease his body, Szeczwul will be ready to try for yet another Dick Siderowf Senior Player of the Year honor next season.