(November 19, 2021) – James A. Becker has won the Connecticut Open twice and the Connecticut Senior Open three times. He was an All-American at the University of Georgia, played on the PGA Tour, and spent nine seasons competing on the South African Tour. Now James A. Becker is a member of the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame.
“I am just humbled and honored to get inducted,” said Becker who will be inducted on December 2nd during the CSGA Annual Meeting at Hartford Golf Club. “I have dreamt about being inducted for quite a while. It is definitely the highlight of my career.”
When Becker, currently the head professional at Blue Fox Run Golf Course, was four his older brother by eight years Michael made him his first set of golf clubs. “My brother was very instrumental in me playing golf,” Becker said. It wasn’t long before Becker graduated from hitting the ball around the yard to playing his first nine hole round at Millbrook Golf Course in Windsor.
By the time Becker reached his freshman year at Windsor High School, his game had begun to flourish. Then after his sophomore year, his family moved to Marietta, Georgia where his game really took off. “I got really lucky because I don’t know if I would have been as good of a player if I didn’t move down to Georgia. I remember when I first got down there I thought I was in heaven. Everything about it was unbelievable.”
Becker’s game quickly improved earning him a full golf scholarship to the University of Georgia. During his career for the Bulldogs, from 1974-1977, Becker was an All-American and an All-SEC performer.
“I played well during my career at Georgia,” Becker said. “My score counted more times than anyone else’s during the four years that I was there so that was something I was proud of. I played and my score counted.”
Throughout his college career, Becker would return to his home state to compete in the Connecticut Open winning the event in both 1975 and 1976 as an amateur. The first victory was at Ellington Ridge Country Club where Becker, “played really well.” One year later at Woodbridge Country Club Becker didn’t have his best but he was still able to capture the title.
After college Becker returned to Connecticut and pursued golf at the professional level primarily playing in the various New England state opens and teaching golf when he wasn’t competing. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Becker earned multiple starts on the PGA Tour competing in the 1988 Canon Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open, and in the 1989 and 1990 Bank of Boston Classic. 1988 also marked the beginning of a nine-year run on the South African Tour, now known as the Sunshine Tour. His best year on the tour was his final year, 1996 when he finished 20th on the Order of Merit.
“Playing on the South African Tour was a phenomenal experience. The country is beautiful. There are great courses and great players. I went down there and thought I was going to kill them and knock them out but it is a very, very competitive tour. They have great players. At the time I played with Ernie Els, Tom Lehman, and Vijay Singh. There were a lot of superstars down there playing.”
Following his time in South Africa Becker continued to play regionally and he continued to win. Most notably he has won the Connecticut Senior Open three-times capturing the title in 2012, 2015, and 2020.
“I just love competing. I’m not apt to go out and play by myself. But if you say we have a foursome and we have a match today. I love the thrill of competition,” said Becker who credits current Champions Tour player Fran Quinn and regular New England travel companion Mike Caporale for much of his golf success.
For Becker, his career and life in golf aren’t done yet but as he reflects on what the sport has provided him he knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without it.
“Golf has really been my whole life as far as my opportunities in work and just all the people I know are through golf. I met my wife Gina through golf. It has meant the world to me. I try to give back with lessons and I teach a lot of junior players and I really hope that they stay with the game and learn those lessons that I learned from the pros that helped me. Golf has meant everything to me.”
Hero Image courtesy of Connecticut Section PGA
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.