Article by: Mark Eells
(February 10, 2023) – I remember when I first heard that the 2022 Connecticut Public Links was going to be held at Blackledge Country Club, feeling excited about the opportunity to play on my home course! I grew up down the road from the course, I worked there for seven years, played it as my high school home course, and continue to play there as a member.
As I played there throughout the year knowing the tournament was coming up later in the summer, I was able to develop a game plan of how I wanted to maneuver each hole. Of course, during the tournament, it seemed like I ended up hitting the ball in places I have never been in my 10+ years of playing the course. My plan was to be more aggressive off the tee to give myself as many birdie opportunities as possible, especially on the par 4s.
Round one was full of highs and lows although the scorecard may not reflect that. I struggled off the tee early but seemed to make putt after putt just to hold on. An eagle on the par-5 fourth highlighted my front nine. I had roughly 225 yards into the blind green. Hitting my target, I walked over the crest of the hill to see my ball about 12 feet from the hole and I was then able to roll in the putt. This got me to 1-under which is where I would remain through the first 12 holes.
From there we had a rain delay for about an hour which gave me a good opportunity to refocus. Going back out, I proceeded to birdie Nos. 14,15, and 17 to finish the day at 4-under and with a one shot lead.
37th Connecticut Public Links Final Results
I remember not knowing how I’d feel the next day and if there would be nerves.
However, once I got to the course I felt really calm with a clear mind which I attribute to the amount of time I’ve spent there. My mindset was to shoot the best score I could and not worry about what anyone else was doing.
I birdied holes two and three right away to get to 6-under. But the shot of the day for me came on the par-4 fifth hole. I had 80 yards in and hit my wedge just short of the flag, the ball hopped past the flag, and spun it back into the cup for an eagle! I enjoyed it for a moment but quickly had to let it go as I knew there was still a lot of golf left.
I made the turn at 8-under for the tournament and was joined by a few friends from the Blackledge men’s club to follow the back nine. There were some tough par putts I was able to roll in, along with a chip in on No. 14 that they were able to get hyped about which set the atmosphere coming down the stretch.
I told myself ahead of time I wasn’t going to check live scores and just stick to my game plan. Still not knowing where the field stood on 18, I hit it behind a tree with my tee shot. Walking up the fairway I asked my buddy if I was ok to play for bogey. In a joking manner, he told me I could make a nine and be fine so at that point, it started to sink in. Moments later I rolled in one final par putt on 18 to secure the victory!
I was able to come back to my longtime clubhouse surrounded by my friends and people I’ve worked and golfed with over the years, including club pros John and Kevin. It meant a lot to be able to celebrate this win with them all.
Winning a CSGA tournament was a goal of mine this year and doing it at Blackledge CC was an experience I’ll never forget.
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.