(December 7, 2021) – Stellar, steady golf all added up to the first Dick Siderowf Senior Player of the Year award for Dave Jones. “I don’t think I have really processed what winning the award means yet,” said Jones. “It is never one of my goals at the beginning of the year. I just want to try to improve every year and try to really enjoy the game.”
The 59-year-old set the stage for his career year with his early season success in the One Day Tournament Series winning five events including three before the end of May. In championship play Jones, a member at Mohegan Sun Golf Club since 1997, reached the quarterfinals of the Senior Match Play, finished second at the Senior Four-Ball, and tied for second at the New England Senior Amateur.
However, for Jones the highlight of the year was competing in the Tri-State Matches at Cape Cod National Golf Club. “Without a doubt playing for Captain Roger Everin was the highlight of the year. Being part of that team and getting to know all the guys was an amazing experience and a memory I will cherish,” Jones said.
Growing up Jones loved baseball and football. When he turned 10 or 11 years old he started to dabble in golf playing a handful of times each year at Cedar Ridge Golf Course in East Lyme.
“Then when I was about 13-years-old my dad bought me my first set of golf clubs. It was a set of Tom Watson Golden Rams. That is when I first had a full set and the first clubs that were fitted for me and that is when I started playing a little more,” Jones said. “Then as a freshman in high school even though I loved baseball I joined the golf team. I wasn’t very good, maybe high 80s or low 90s but I was good enough to make the team and that was my first time playing competitive golf.”
With a taste of what competitive golf was like Jones became fixated on improving his game and he did just that in leaps and bounds between his freshman and sophomore year of high school. During that summer Jones began playing at New London Country Club and he often played with future Connecticut Golf Hall of Famer Jeff Hedden.
“At that time Jeff was probably already the best player in the state and I went from a high 80s to a low 90s shooter to a mid-70s shooter just in that summer by playing with Jeff. That is when my game really took off,” said Jones who also enjoys spending his summers boating in the waters off of Connecticut.
Now with the game to back up his growing love for the sport Jones quickly ascended the ranks of the state’s elite golfers qualifying for his first Connecticut Amateur as a 19-year-old in 1982 at Wampanoag Country Club. Jones reached match play where he fell to Bill Hermanson, his teammate nearly 40 years later on the 2021 Tri-State team.
Throughout his golf career Jones has been dedicated to another craft. Teaching. Jones teaches at the Sayles School in Sprague where he currently teaches in the Technology Lab. During his time at the Pre K-8 school, he has done a little bit of everything including coaching basketball for 17-years, soccer for 15-years, track, and serving as the advisor for the Ski Club.
However, in 2018 golf and his teaching career suddenly took a back seat. First in August his wife Joann past away from cancer. Then in the fall of that same year, Jones was diagnosed with cancer himself. Jones had cancer in his tongue, tonsils, and lymph nodes and had surgery in December 2018 followed by three months of chemotherapy.
“I ended up losing about 30-35 pounds,” explained Jones. “I wasn’t able to eat. I wasn’t able to drink. They actually inserted a feeding tube in me so I could get my nutrients.”
Despite needing a feeding tube until July, Jones was able to return to the golf course in late May. At first, he played one hole, then four, then nine, then 13, before finally playing a complete round. For Jones, through all the hardships the thought of playing golf again was his light at the end of the tunnel.
“Golf was one of the big motivations for me to get strong again. I had just lost my wife two months before I was diagnosed. And then when I was diagnosed it was just a gut punch because who knows where the road is going to lead. While I was going through the treatments I was just thinking I want to be able to get strong again. I want to be able to get out and play golf again. I remember just going through the treatments the last couple of weeks, I didn’t really want to do the treatments but golf was certainly one of the motivating factors to help me get through them. Something to look forward to.”
Golf has become more than just a game for Jones. It has become the driving force that has pushed Jones forward through the darkest of times.
“I just really love to play, I love the anticipation of tournaments. I sit up the night before and think about my strategy for the next day. After 40 years to still have a love for the game. I think that is what I am most lucky about. I am very grateful that I still love the game.”
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut State Golf Association functions as an extension of the USGA and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. Founded in 1899, it is the country’s oldest state golf association and conducts over 60 Championships, Qualifiers, and One Day Tournaments throughout the year.