Farmington (October 2, 2020) It’s a testament to Bill Whedon’s golfing career that when you ask him if making two holes in one in the same round of a PGA Tour event is the highlight of that career, he has to think.
“That’s a tough question,” says Whedon, now 93, smiling to consider it.
There’s a lot to consider. With a bit of prodding, he lists them.
Whedon has won thirty-nine club championships, 29 at the Country Club of Farmington, and 10 at Madison Country Club.
He shot is age every year from the time he was 72 until he turned 90. Perhaps “50 or 60” times, he hasn’t kept count.
He has qualified for the Connecticut Father Son Championship with each of his sons, Rick and Web, something he’s especially proud of.
He shot 67 in a howling wind at Fisher’s Island, perhaps “the best round of golf I’ve ever played.”
He shot 76 at Farmington one day hitting only seven greens, taking only 21 putts for the round.
A lifelong amateur, he made the cut in what is now the Travelers Championship in each of the three times he played. But the one that everyone remembers was at the Insurance City Open at Wethersfield Country Club back in 1955 when he made aces on the 168-yard fifth (5-iron) and the 208-yard ninth (3-iron), a feat that has only been duplicated on tour once since.
Sitting on the porch of his beloved Farmington, where he has played for decades and where the Whedon name seems to appear on every championship board in the grill room, Whedon decides that September 2, 1955, was not the highlight. “That was great, but you didn’t really work for that, you know, you just found it,” he says, smiling at the question. “It was luck. You didn’t hit a million chip shots to develop a good short game. It just happened.”
This week Whedon, a former member of the CSGA Board of Directors, was honored for all of his accomplishments at the 75th playing of the Senior Amateur at Farmington, not only displaying incredible golfing skill, said Executive Director Mike Moraghan, but for embodying the spirit that keeps golf thriving.
“Even in his 90's, he is a big ray of sunshine,” says Paul Smith, a longtime CSGA volunteer and friend of Whedon’s who was on hand for the ceremony. “He always has a smile and kind word. Ask him how he feels and his reply is, ‘Modestly magnificent !!!, ’and he is!”
The boy who started in golf as a six-year-old in the early 1930s by hopping a stone wall along the 13th hole at Madison Country Club, brought his two sons into the game, and also played often with his late wife, Polly, a very good tennis player as well. Whedon clearly gets the challenge of “growing the game.”
“My sons said to me, ‘Do we have to play golf?’ I said, ‘No. You don’t ever have to pick up a club.’ And they said, ‘Okay, Dad, let’s go play.” Whedon told them that when they broke 80 he would buy them a set of brand new clubs. “They did it the same year,” he says, laughing. “That was an expensive year.”
Those sons have not only inherited by Bill’s love and talent for the game, but have also taken over the company Whedon, a natural salesman, founded 40 years ago. It produces water-saving shower heads, one of which Whedon graciously gives to a visitor sitting down to talk with him about his career.
Whedon stopped playing a couple of years ago but still gets around, though he’s less steady on his feet than he used to be. He loves to talk golf though. This past month Whedon cheered on Bryson DeChambeau at the U.S. Open, because he likes the champion’s approach to the swing, though he wishes he’d play a bit faster. “If I had it do over again, I’d play with clubs of the same length, as he does,” says Whedon. The other player to do that? Whedon’s idol, Moe Norman, “the greatest ball striker ever.”
As for that list of accomplishments, Whedon looks out on Farmington’s first tee and decides that those holes in one are far from the top of the list.
“Enjoying the game is far more important,” he says. “And being able to play it with your family. I mean, after I started my own company sometimes the four of us would go out to Farmington and walk and carry and play in about two and a half hours.”
For Whedon, a magnificent round.