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Reliving Hartford Golf Club’s Connecticut Amateur History

(May 2, 2021) – Hartford Golf Club will serve as the host of the 119th Connecticut Amateur from June 14-18. The event will mark the 10th time that Hartford GC has hosted the amateur as it returns to the club for the first time since 1990 and for just the second time since 1969.

Early in the tournament's history Hartford GC was a frequent host, welcoming the event five times between 1902-1914. With the 2021 Connecticut Amateur just over a month away we took a look back at the nine previous tournaments contested at Hartford GC.


Despite breaking an iron on the opening hole of the championship match, Charles H. Seeley of Wee Burn Country Club was able to defeat Robert Moore to win the second of his three straight Connecticut Amateur titles. Seeley was 9-up after the morning 18 and ended up winning by a comfortable 12&10 spread.


Two years later the championship match between S.H. Patterson and J. Elliot Hewes was much tighter. Hewes held a 1-up lead after the opening 18-holes, but Patterson won the 2nd and 3rd holes in the afternoon to take a 1-up advantage. After a series of ties, Hewes evened the match on the 8th hole only to see Patterson of Brooklawn Country Club regain the lead on No. 9. On the back nine, Patterson pulled away capturing the title 3&1.


W.K. Shepard, playing out of New Haven Country Club, dominated the championship match from start to finish winning by a 10&9 margin. It was the second Connecticut Amateur title for Shepard in three years. 


At the beginning of the tournament C. G. Waldo Jr., a member of the Yale golf team, said to a Hartford Courant reporter, “Yale had a great golf team this year. In fact, I was the only member of the team who had not annexed a championship of some sort.” That all changed for the Brooklawn member by week's end. In a tight final match and with both players playing excellent golf, Waldo Jr. was able to pull away in the afternoon to defeat Roger H. Hovey 3&2. The title was the first of two straight amateurs for Waldo Jr.


In 1914 W.P. Seeley won the first of his three Connecticut Amateur titles. Playing out of Brooklawn CC Seeley got the best of W.F. Whitmore 9&8. Seeley would also earn medalist honors, later named for R.M. Grant, three times.  


One year after finishing as the runner-up, Frank English of the Country Club of Waterbury pulled away late to defeat Sid Mott 5&4. English started to open up a sizeable advantage early on the final nine with birdies on Nos. 10 and 11.


By a tally of 5&4 Charles C. Clare of Race Brook Country Club won his third Connecticut Amateur title in five years. Clare got off to a quick start thanks to a hot putter and Robert Moir Grant could never catch up. The victory marked the second time that Clare defeated R.M. Grant in the championship match. With the win, Clare became the third player since 1899 to capture the title three times.


At the age of 22, John A. Gentile of The Patterson Club became one of the youngest players to win the Connecticut Amateur. Gentile took a 5-up advantage during the opening 18-holes and never looked back on his way to an 8&7 win over Fred Kask. The following year Kask would win the first of his four amateur titles. For Gentile, the win avenged his loss in the 1966 Connecticut Amateur final.


In one of the more dramatic Connecticut Amateur championship matches, William Lee rolled in a nine-foot par putt on the 36th hole to defeat Jack Bracken 1-up. The victory for Lee, a member at The Golf Course at Yale, was his third amateur title after previously winning in 1975 and 1979.

During the week Lee overcame a number of challenges both on and off the course. On the course, in the walking-only event, he had to deal with leg problems. Diagnosed with polio as a teenager Lee said that his right leg hurt and that his left was, “half-numb. It kinda flops along.” Lee's original caddy was late to his opening-round tee time so he worked the week with 15-year-old Jason Garrett who showed up to Hartford Golf Club at the beginning of the tournament not even knowing there was a CSGA event happening.  Following his semifinal victory Lee's car broke down, and he had to rent a car to get home to New Haven, and back again the next day to face Bracken.

In the title match, Bracken won the first three holes but Lee battled back and things were all-square after the morning round. In the afternoon Bracken got off to a quick start once again taking a 3-up lead. Bracken would hold a 2-up lead heading into the final nine holes. Lee fought back to even the match again only to see Bracken move back in front on the 34th hole. With his back against the wall, Lee won the final two holes and with it the title.

Note: Information and hero image curated from the Hartford Courant archives.