The steely-eyed former collegiate Division I Rutgers baseball player feeds on competition, has the stopping power of a .44 magnum, yet he is a total gentleman.
His golf ball is distinctively labeled “JAWS”….
We all want to win at golf, and most of us (correctly) feel the PGA Tour is way beyond our reach. So we seek to identify with someone closer to home…like our club champions, or, even closer to home, the better players we know. We want—not just want, we yearn—to play better, do better, and of course, win, and if we can find a little inspiration to guide us, we’re grateful!
Enter amateur golfer Jason Jaworoski. Jason is a winner—in fact, he is a champion. Not once, not twice, but a slew of times, and at various events and venues. But it is here, in his own hometown, that he has really distinguished himself: as winner of more Stamford City Amateurs than anyone else…ever.
How’s that for inspiration?
“Golfers can win state titles, be crowned New England champions, and even capture national honors,” Stamford Advocate sports writer Rich DePreta wrote on Sunday, June 15, 2017, after Jason had won his fifth City Amateur Championship title. “But sometimes the most satisfying feeling is to be known as the King of the Neighborhood.”
“King” is right! Think about how many titles most of us win in our lives. One? Two? How about none? Sound about right? Well, this guy has won six hometown crowns. Uh-huh—six. Now, that’s pretty darn special.
And what is most impressive is: None of it has gone to his head. Within a few seconds of meeting him, I could see that he was anything but arrogant. In fact, he struck me as a pretty regular guy, and a very patient one, too, which isn’t always easy.
My first impression was reinforced subsequently: Jason Jaworoski is not only a good sportsman, but he’s a good sport and is quick to offer advice and help, especially to those of us who duff the ball and wish we could be better.
“To help people settle the nerves, I try to get them to put it all in perspective,” he says, answering my question about the weak and meek whose $5 Nassaus are about as close to real competition as they will ever experience.
“You know, we’re amateur golfers. We’re all professionals at something else,” he begins, in his signature raspy, rugged voice. “I’m a professional at insurance. I take that into consideration when I’m on a golf course—just that perspective in knowing it’s a game we all love, and we’re out here to have a good time. It’s awesome that we have a game as great as golf to compete in, to feel that fire every day, or during your weekend game, or whatever it’s going to be, but at the end of day you’re still going to go home to your wife and your kids, and those are the important things in life.”
Jason Jaworoski is all Stamford: direct, no nonsense, and to the point. Yet he’s approachable. “My parents, Leon and Joanne, were and are awesome,” Jason told me. “They were extremely supportive of us while we were growing up. I have an older brother, Dennis, who was never an athlete, and a younger sister, Tammy, who was a very good athlete. She played Division I at Hartford University, on their softball team. My parents never missed our games, yet neither were athletes themselves. Still, they always just encouraged us to be the best we could be in whatever we were doing.”
Clearly, parental support was helpful to the man who grew into a stout, well-groomed corporate benefits consultancy owner. But his winning ways come from that “fire” he spoke of, and that was likely stoked by his having to leave the diamond and having no other outlet.
“The funny part,” Jason begins, “is that I didn’t really pick up golf until I was 22. I played baseball first. That was my first love, and when that was over, that’s when I really picked up golf.
“I’ve always had a competitive drive. I need to have something [competitive]. So I played softball with my buddies for a couple years after baseball, [but] I never got anything out of it. After that, I really started getting more and more into golf, and the first year I really played,” he told me, matter of factly, while seated in a golf cart by the 10th tee at Sterling Farms. “I would tell you my end-of-the-year handicap was eight.”
“Come again?” I thought, astonished.
“I went from eight to six, to two,” he continued, calmly.
I withdrew, slightly.
“Well, ya know, 22…” he explained, half-shrugging his shoulders, referring to his age at the time, “…and don’t forget, baseball and golf have a lot of similarities. It’s hand-eye coordination, and when you’re swinging something your whole life, you’re real comfortable.” He looked at me as though I should get it. “You know, the swing plane just changes.” The next year, he would win his first Stamford City Amateur.
“The one I remember the most clearly is the first,” the 43-year-old father of two said. “Yeah, that was the first tournament I ever won. I remember afterward all of my friends and I went out to dinner. It was a really exciting thing for me, personally.”
Jason, who grew up on Glenbrook Road and moved with his family to Mianus Road when he was 11, exudes an easy confidence. He looks you straight in the eye, and a quick smile is always there, but you can just tell—he can get down and dirty and quick!
“I’m kind of programmed that way, and I think a lot of people who have played competitive sports their whole life, they kind of need that in their life,” he told Hour sports writer Joe Ryan, after wining his second Stamford City Amateur in 2009. “No matter what that is, that’s why I chose the profession that I am in. I love the competition. I love going out and challenging myself and really being able to control my own destiny, which is great about golf because at the end of the day, you have nobody to blame but yourself. Nobody else is hitting your golf ball but you.”
And he lives by that credo, embraces the fact that he needs to get ‘er done, and celebrate, or mourn, his own outcome. And while his tough, hard, independent side may be the common thread running through his DNA, he still has a soft side—that of a family man, who married Patricia shortly after winning his third Stamford City Amateur championship in 2013, and proclaiming in his interview with Stamford Advocate sports writer Dan DePreta: “I’m fortunate my fiancée understands my need to golf.” They have two children: Lilly and JJ, and a dog named Rosie.
To most onlookers, Jason is, without a doubt, a tough guy. His macho tenor, direct manner, and days at Rutgers, where he was a power-hitting outfielder Division I baseball player in college, jibe with that conclusion, but he is anything but cold and shows his emotions quite readily:
“This tournament means so much to the Stamford golf community. This is my third win here. I love this tournament,” he continued to tell DePreta back in 2013. “The importance the people of Stamford place on this event and the work of the people at the two golf courses are unbelievable. I’m a lifetime Stamford guy, so this means the world to me.”
But Jason is just a natural-born competitor. Just 10 days after his daughter, Lilly Grace, was born he was out on the links clobbering Old Man Par en route to his fourth Stamford City Amateur title. “My wife, Patricia, and I were blessed with a daughter just 10 days ago,” he told the Stamford Advocate’s longtime sports writer Rich DePreta in a story published right after his opening round at E. Gaynor Brennan Golf Course in 2015. “I have such a different and beautiful perspective on everything now. Because of my early tee time, I fed Lilly Grace in the morning for the first time. And my wife is still so understanding about what golf means to me.”
Apparently so, as the Westhill High School baseball playing alum found himself on a yet bigger stage the following year at the CSGA’s 11th Tournament of Champions , which was played at Bull’s Bridge Golf Club. “With sunny skies and light winds greeting a field of the state’s best amateur golfers, Jaworoski took advantage of the favorable scoring conditions with an incredible eight birdies on his round en route to firing a blistering round of four under-par 68,” wrote the CSGA in a story they published in their great golf magazine, Links.
“I felt good about my game coming into today after being fortunate enough to win the club championship again,”Jason told the staff at Links that day, referring to his successful defense of the Shorehaven Golf Club Championship he has now won four times consecutively, “but I was a little cautious because I had never played the golf course before. I made a couple of fifteen-foot birdie putts, but my ball striking was really solid today.” Indeed it was.
“That was probably my biggest win,” Jason told me as we chatted at Sterling Farms earlier this month. “I mean ‘biggest win’ because that’s a field made up of all the club champions in Connecticut, so that was something I was pretty proud of.”
The next year, in 2017, Jason would reign supreme at the Stamford City Amateur yet again, with his fifth title, prompting Advocate sports writer DePreta to write, in his story on Sunday, June 25, 2019, “The golf résumé of Jason Jaworoski has expanded in leaps and bounds in recent years. But the title that warms his heart the most is the Stamford Amateur Golf Championship.”
“The ability to get the ball in the hole in tournament conditions has become a strength for me,” Jason told DePreta that day. “I was playing for something that matters dearly to me. I’ve embraced all that playing solid tournament golf entails. The fact that I’m able to play a schedule of tournament golf with two young children at home is such a tribute to my wife, Patricia. I love her, and I’m so blessed to have her.”
Since Jason won his first Stamford City Amateur title in 2003, he has added four more cut crystal vases to his trophy case, before adding his sixth last month. Along the way, he’s made lots of friends on the golf course. Chief among them, however, is fellow Shorehaven Golf Club member, and all-too-often Stamford City Amateur runner-up, Jimmy Romaniello.
Romaniello needs little introduction locally. In 2017, the Westchester Golf Association’s Senior Amateur Player of the Year won both the WGA Senior Amateur Golf Championship, and the Danbury (CT) Senior Amateur Championship, in addition to his low amateur honors that year at the Connecticut Senior Open, and quarter-finalist finish in the Connecticut State Golf Association (CSGA) Senior Amateur Championship.
Knowing he needed to put the screws to Jason, two holes remaining on Sunday, Jim nearly holed out his tee shot on the long par 3 17th, for an ace, during the final found of this year’s Stamford City Amateur. The talented golfer had to settle for a birdie, and yet another top five finish.
‘“When you win the Stamford Amateur six times, you shouldn’t be able to play in the tournament anymore,’ Romaniello laughed”, quoted Stamford Advocate sports writer, Rich DePreta, in his post-tournament article appearing later that Sunday, on June 23, 2019.
While Jason has indelibly stamped his name into the Stamford golf record books in what can only be described as Jack Nicklaus-like fashion, Stamford-style, he deserves credit for keeping himself in check and avoiding the trappings of stardom that can swell many a head. After wining his sixth title in June, the affable golfer gave DePreta a story line that drew the attention away from himself.
“[Jason] had his secret weapon at the Stamford Amateur this weekend,” DePreta wrote that Sunday. “Every year that Bob Judge has caddied for me, I have won this tournament,’ Jason told Rich that day, sharing the spotlight with his friend Bob.
Jason, the six-time Stamford City Amateur, could have hogged the limelight, but he didn’t. He is not only a good sportsman and winner, but he hasn’t let winning go to his head. His conduct on and off the links is deservedly befitting of the title: Stamford Champion.
From the desk of Paul grillo, executive director, Stamford Golf Authority
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