Wethersfield Country Club
Where It All Began
It may be almost 30 years that the then Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open pulled up stakes and moved to what became Tournament Players Club at River Highlands in Cromwell.
But membership and those who visit Wethersfield Country Club still carry the torch for the golf tournament that put the town and state on the map.
The now Travelers Championship debuted as the Insurance City Open in 1952, with Ted Kroll winning the inaugural event and capturing the first place prize of $2,400.
The top pros came to friendly Wethersfield every summer and the tournament became known for producing some great champions, such as Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Billy Casper, Ken Venturi and Lee Trevino, low scores, as well as its superb greens, which pros on Tour called among the best they played. The course continues to be known for first class course conditions and as a challenging yet fair test of golfing skill.
Entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr. lent his name to the tournament in 1974 and brought his celeb buddies, such as the great Bob Hope, with him to delight the crowds.
The event moved to Edgewood Country Club, which was remodeled and became the TPC at River Highlands.
Wethersfield is proud that it is where “Arnie” earned his first Tour victory, and where cigar-smoking Charlie Sifford became the first African American to capture a PGA Tour event when he won in 1967.
“The club is very conscious and proud of its connection to the GHO tradition,” said Wethersfield CC membership chairman, Mark Zimmerman.
“A plaque sits on the first tee listing all the former champions of the event when it was held at Wethersfield. In addition, you will find numerous pictures around the clubhouse commemorating the GHO. Club tournaments have been held with former GHO participants, many of whom still come to play the course when the PGA tournament comes to town.”
He said another acknowledgement of the club’s GHO roots is that occasionally, during a club event, the pin placements on the greens will be set up identically to the way they were during one of the tournament days.
Zimmerman believes Wethersfield is a special club.
“I would say four things make it a special place--the people, the staff, the excellent restaurant, and the best conditioned golf course in the area.”
He said Wethersfield CC is in the midst of a membership drive that began last year.
“In the later part of 2011, we started a process of revising the club constitution in order to allow us to offer junior, family and corporate memberships. These new membership categories are an integral part of our membership drive. In addition, we revised the membership structure to make it more attractive to prospective members. To date, we have added over 50 new members since the drive started in December 2011.”
Tradition and history play such an important role in the game of golf. It’s comforting to know that at Wethersfield Country Club, the spirit of the beloved GHO, which thrilled fans for over 30 years, is still alive and well.
For information about membership visit www.WethersfieldCC.org or call 860-529-3326