(November 21, 2022) – On a cloudy, cool early June day Dave Jones stood over a 10-foot putt for par on the 16th hole at Madison Country Club. It was a putt Jones had faced countless times but this one was different. 40 years after playing in his first Connecticut Amateur as a 19-year-old Jones was one putt away from winning his first Connecticut State Golf Association major title. Jones calmly swung the putter back and struck it pure, the ball never wavered from its line and disappeared into the bottom of the cup.
Jones, never one to show much emotion on the course pumped his fist and smiled. He had won the 16th Senior Match Play title and for the first time in his long and successful career, he was a CSGA major winner. The stage had also been set for another banner season that resulted in Jones winning his second consecutive Dick Siderowf Player of the Year award.
“The Senior Match Play was such a great experience,” Dave Jones said. “The night before I was really nervous and I was thinking, ‘alright this is my chance to win a CSGA major.’ But once I got to the course it was business as usual, it was just another tournament. I happened to play one of my best rounds of the year in the final. I played so well. It wasn’t really a relief that I won. I wasn’t like, ‘oh I finally won a CSGA major,’ but I enjoyed the experience so much that when it was over I was almost sad it was over and wish there was another day because I enjoy playing Madison CC so much.”
However, winning the Senior Match Play almost didn’t happen. Two weeks before the tournament Jones, a cancer survivor woke up in the middle of the night with his head spinning. He was having a vertigo attack. Jones spent the next 24 hours sick and it wasn’t until two days before the event did the 60-year-old sign up for the tournament. Jones entered the event with no expectations but once the competition started he was in his element.
“I just love tournament golf because tournament golf is so different than regular golf,” explained Jones. “There is an adrenaline rush when you are near the lead of a tournament and coming down the stretch. It is almost addictive, it is almost like a physical change happens in my body when I am playing. I am sort of sad when a tournament finishes because I enjoy being in that tournament atmosphere so much.”
The tournament atmosphere is where Jones thrives. In 2022 Jones not only won the Senior Match title but also played on the Connecticut Julius Boros Challenge Cup and Tri-State teams, qualified for his first U.S. Senior Amateur while also capturing five One Day titles on his way to winning the Siderowf Gross Division Player of the Year honors for a second straight year.
“I love the One Day events because the level of competition is so high at least on the senior side,” Jones said. “All the best players go to these tournaments all the time and you really have to go there with your A game. It is almost like a sprint. If you aren’t shooting under par you aren’t going to win.”
Mixed in with his success in CSGA events for Jones was an appearance in the 67th U.S. Senior Amateur at The Kittansett Club in Massachusetts. For Jones, it was his fifth time competing in a USGA championship. Previously, the Mohegan Sun Golf Club member had teed it up in two U.S. Amateur’s, a U.S. Mid-Amateur, and a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.
“Playing in the U.S. Senior Amateur is just a much different experience. It is much more laid back,” Jones said. “When the seniors get there they are enjoying and soaking up every minute of that experience. While at the U.S. Amateur that is just one stop in the road. They have a tournament the next week.”
Jones played in his second U.S. Amateur in 2010 at Chambers Bay and for two days he was paired with rising high school senior Justin Thomas. Although Jones didn’t make match play he calls playing in that event, “one of his greatest experiences. I actually came home and said, ‘I just played with a kid that is going to win on the PGA Tour in five years.”
Jones wasn’t wrong. Just over five years later in November 2015, Thomas won his first of 15 PGA Tour titles.
For Jones, the key to playing good golf has been finding the right balance. He rarely practices other than some short game work following weekend rounds with fellow CSGA competitor and Mohegan Sun GC member Tony Susi and once it is too cold to play in Connecticut he puts his clubs away and doesn’t touch them again until March.
“I think I have found a good balance in life. I play just enough golf so that I am physically sharp but I take enough time off so that every time I play I really want to play. I can say with certainty that there was not one time I was on the golf course this year where I didn’t want to be there and that is really important. I spent a lot of time on my boat during the summer, I spend time with my family, and I spend time taking care of my house. So, for me, I think I found a perfect balance. I play just enough golf so I really, really enjoy it.”
That enjoyment is evident every time Jones steps onto the course. Win, lose or draw Jones is just happy to be on the course and getting a chance to compete.
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.