Darie Donovan, of the Stamford Women's Golf Association, was among the great adventurers who did Sterling, and the town, proud. Here she is on No. 7 tee at Oak Hills in Norwalk playing in the SCWGA's Carolyn Federici Club Championship held on October 5, 2020.
This year, the exploits of Sterling Farms’, and the Stamford Women’s Golf Association’s, fearless fighters—a cadre of brave Stamfordians who ventured onward and outward to test their skills among the ranks of the region’s very best (outside the fray of our town’s own formidable pool of talent)—were such that further analysis is merited.
Two bodies: the Southern New England Women’s Golf Association (SNEWGA), and the Southern Connecticut Women’s Golf Association (SCWGA), are the longtime women’s groups that organize, and hold, a storied list competitive events comprising Connecticut’s amazingly talented women golfers. Primarily there for adventuresome weekend warriors, each association’s histories date back to the 1950s and 1960s… the days when Sterling was but a glimmer in the eyes of Frank Daley, and the officers and members of the Board of Governors of the Hubbard Heights Golf Club!
One look back at some past champions of these two esteemed organizations,, and you’ll see a women’s golfing who’s who the likes of which are simply remarkable.
From our own superstar Connecticut State Golf Association (CSGA) Hall of Fame inductee, PGA/LPGA Sterling Farms head pro Angela Aulenti, to other legends, like the current (now four-time) CSGA Liz Janangelo Caron Women’s Player of the Year: 57-year-old school teacher, and Lyman Orchards superstar, Jen Holland; not to mention unforgettable names like Beryl Buck, Barbara Young, Dot Cleary, Lorraine Paquette, Jin Kim, Felicia Shashinka, Jo Rassmussen, and other greats like former Stamfordian (and past multiple Stamford City Amateur Golf Championship winner) Debbie Johnson, and Sterling’s own Great Scot herself: the many times over champion of everything, Ms. Myra Macmillan, whose presence in the word of the Farm is, well, legendary.
These two long-standing organizations have given the most daring Sterling Farms/Stamford Women Golf Association members a means of competing on another level for decades, and in spite of the COVID pandemic’s impact this year, the season went on almost swimmingly.
Our rich, and accomplished, crop of women golfers (in addition to Myra) proudly represented Sterling Farms, and Stamford, in 2020, and included such luminaries as: Jeanette Chagaris, Jennifer Kaplan, Carol Frattaroli, Cindy Kabat, Mary Ann DeRosa, Darie Donovan, and…yes… three-time Stamford City Amateur Golf Championship Nancy Lopez Net Division winner herself: Ms. Sharon Clark.
All found themselves in the winner’s circles, or at the very least atop (or thereabouts) the leaderboards, at a variety of competitions held outside of the Sterling/Hubbard/SWGA dominions, although (ironically) their first great ‘adventure’ would actually occur at… yep… Sterling Farms!
Before I launch into who won what during 2020’s season-opening, SCWGA thriller, held at Sterling Farms Golf Course on Monday, June 15, 2020, permit me to delve a tad more into the SCWGA, which is the nearby entity that brings together many golf clubs throughout the area, and hosts events primarily in Fairfield County, e.g., Sterling Farms, Tashua Knolls, Longshore, Oak Hills, and the Griiff (although, this year, that course’s event was missed).
The SCWGA organization has a lot of history to it, and is an easy-to-join way to extend your golf resume’s reach.
My new best buddy over at the SCWGA—the effervescent Barbara “Boo” Robinson, their club secretary/treasurer—huddled up with me, and with help from Susan Sheehan, the SCWGA’s representative from Laurel View, the two clued me in on the fact that the SCWGA “was co-founded by Carolyn Federici, Beryl Buck, Gladys Haywood, and Adele Domagala in 1964.”
Now that’s, what, 56 years ago? Whoa! “It began,” the two continue, “with only four Member Clubs: Longshore, Orange Hills, D. Fairchild Wheeler, and Riverview Country Club”, they explained.
“Carolyn was president for its first three years. By 1967, the Member Clubs increased to eight. Unfortunately in 1974 Carolyn passed. Before she passed Shirley Meade—one of SCWGA’s original members—promised Carolyn, and her husband (Toni “Toots” Federici [the PGA head golf professional at Grassy Hills from 1965-1976]) that she would carry the banner, and not let the SCWGA fade away. Shirley made it her mission to keep the association alive,” Sue and Boo patiently wrote.
“Since 1981,” they continued, “the Association grew in popularity and had Member Clubs joining from New York to Hamden. At one point there were as many as 14,” which I found pretty impressive.
“Presently,” the two explain, “our Association has eight active Member Clubs.”
Among them, are: Griffith E. Harris , Oak Hills Park, Stamford Women’s Golf Association, Longshore G.C., D. Fairchild Wheeler, H. Smith Richardson, Tashua Knolls, and the Ridgefield Golf Club.
Sue and Boo added that: “Shirley served as president, and the representative for D. Fairchild Wheeler, until she passed in 2017.”
The SCWGA’s main event is their Club Championship, which I’ll get to all in good time, but alas… there remains the unfinished business of this fabled organization’s season-opening, star-studded Sterling Farms masterpiece, last June 15th, where our own SWGA treasurer-in-chief, Darie Donovan, cracked the whip in the June kickoff event using her Aulenti Fitting Studio spec’d-out Cobras (courtesy of Angela herself) to put together a winning tally of 74, edging Ridgefield’s Kitty Fisher, by a stroke, for the C Flight Net title. (Hey, one, two, three shots… who cares? The bottom line: she won!)
“My game was up and down this year, but I had fun every time I played”, Darie later wrote, of her 2020 season. “There are some really fun ladies in the SWGA. I encourage all ladies in the Stamford area to join SWGA in 2021!”, said Darie.
Stamford’s own Mary Ann DeRosa grabbed sole possession of third in the C Flight’s Gross Division, with Longshore’s rightly proud Maria Gross the penultimate victor, and nearby Greenwich Griff golfer, Noel Colaneri, commandeering second all by herself!
The undisputed leader of charm, and poise, Stamford’s Sharon Clarke (yes, the very same Sharon Clarke who has famously won the last three Stamford City Amateur Golf Championship Net titles) played the Farm in 72 strokes, and took top B Flight Net honors, again by a slim one-shot margin, over a hard-charging Sharon Bodner of Ridgefield.
“I have been playing golf all my life, it seems, but my game doesn’t show it!”, Sharon later confided in an e-mail. “I am steady (usually), but not like some of the members of SWGA! Short, but down the middle for me! Sometimes my goal is to get my 2nd shot past their drives. And that is no lie”, Ms. Clark said.
Stamford’s Carol Charling’s B Flight Gross score was the same as that flight’s runner-up, Regina Masterson of Longshore, but a match of cards gave Regina the runner-up slot, with Tashua Knolls’ Regina Evans championing the field in her flight that Monday last summer.
Nary a Stamford sole was able to make onto the A Flight Net’s top four places, which was won by Liza Paglialunga, of Longshore, with a stellar score of 73.
But the cream rose to the top in the SCWGA’s first big event of the season that day at Sterling Farms, as the three amigos: Jeanette Chagaris, Jennifer Kaplan, and Carol Frattaroli took the top three A Flight Championship honors, respectively.
A few weeks further into the season, and the SCWGA’s next big event, held at Oak Hills on Thursday, July 9th, featured 55 competitors from all over the county. Stamford’s Mary Ann DeRosa took home the C Flight Net winner’s trophy with a fantastic 74 on that tricky, mixed-style layout where Stamford Golf Authority executive director Paul Grillo first learned the game.
Mary Ann didn’t hog the stage, either. The lass gave the newly minted 2021 SWGA Board of Governor, Darie Donovan, room to shine too.
Darie battled hard, and wound up smack-dab in the middle of a three-way match of cards, fighting Griff golfer Jane Anderson, and Lynn Cerrone of Longshore, for the runner-up spot. (Jane’s card won, Darie took 3rd, and Lynn was 4th.) Kudos to Darie for the third-place finish, as it would be more than a month before the SCWGA’s next event would occur.
This meant it was high time the Stamford women adventured further north, where the weather was cooler out yonder. This put them squarely into the lair of the mighty SNEWGA, with its 44 member clubs in Connecticut, and neighboring states. A talented golfer, and very approachable woman, Sheila Allen has been that esteemed organization’s president since 2019.
“The SNEWGA is responding to the pulse of our membership, and moving to promote greater camaraderie, socialization–and FUN events,” Sheila writes.
“I guess it’s ironic that the year we changed the Spring Cup format, COVID-19 made it more difficult to be social. As President, I was so proud of our board, and membership, for being flexible, and responding to the challenges of this difficult season,” Sheila explained.
The SNEWGA’s competitive field is big, its roster robust, and its history more storied than I will be covering this issue. (That’s right, you’ll have to look ahead for more juicy details if, and when I’m good and ready!)
Nonetheless, the SNEWGA counts among its members the region’s most elite amateurs, like Lyman Orchards’ Jen Holland, the aforementioned four-time (including 2020) CSGA Liz Janangelo Caron Women’s Player of the Year, who has also won the SNEWGA’s Individual Championship a record eight times, since 1999, including 2020!
“Jen Holland is an amazing person,” the ‘Godfather’, and affable Lyman Orchard Golf Center director of golf, John Dipollina, PGA, told me.
“Everyone knows her as a talented golfer who has dominated the Connecticut golf scene for quite a long while. What most don’t know is her love for the game is showcased through the children she teaches at John Lyman School here in Middlefield, Connecticut, where she works,” said John, who himself is a media superstar, co-starring on YT’s Sweet Spot, along with his Lyman Orchards GM, and PGA pro, Jason Beffert….
“Jen has brought juniors each spring (with the exception of this season) to Lyman to learn the game of golf. She has invited my team of instructors into John Lyman School to teach the game of golf during her physical education classes during wintertime. She is a pleasure to work with, talk with, walk with, and compete with,” John said, of Jen Holland.
Jen would win it again, in 2020, at the famed Richter Park G.C., on July 14-15.
It wasn’t like she eked out the victory either. No, the Connecticut amateur won one of the state’s biggest women’s amateur titles by a staggering 11 strokes. This, while juggling her online school classes (she’s a Phys. Ed. teacher)!
Jen’s example has surely been an inspiration for our own SWGA superstars, and (as previously reported) it comes as no surprise that the two-time Stamford City Amateur Golf champion herself, Carol Frattaroli rose to the top of the Net side of that same leaderboard, holding court in the SNEWGA’s Individual Net champion’s circle, with a trophy all her own! Her outstanding efforts surely deserve a second bit o’ Stamford pride, as a reward.
For those of you who do not know Carol, she walks and carries own her bag, with all 14 sticks, to boot! To have hoofed it, in the July heat at Richter, which is a bear to walk, and capturing a victory too, is pretty impressive.
Now, she may have ridden, I haven’t asked (yet), but if she indeed walked, given the lengthy hauls from No. 1 to 2, and from No. 4 back to 5 is just the beginning. Holes 6 through 9 are a roller coaster ride, and then the back—which is a mountain goat’s dream track—is when the hiking boots are required. Carol’s play, and moxie, are inspiring stuff!
Carol played that 36 hole championship as an 11, carding gross scores of 83-84, which reflected her true handicap indeed, as her net tally was an honest 3-over-par total net of 145.
Her scoring was strong, as having parred all four of Richter’s par 3s during her first round, which is a milestone alone, believe me!
She also parred the gnarly, tree-lined, hard-sloping (left-to-right) hilly par 5 7th both days. Not net, folks, gross pars.
That 7th is a sneaky-hard hole, as is No. 6 prior, where even a bogey is a good score, only Carol made par on that sixth, which is a golf hole many consider to be among one of the state’s toughest.
Under the pressure of maintaining her lead, Carol made seven (7) pars on the front nine alone!
Carol, a William Pitt/Sotheby’s real estate salesperson, whose office is at 3 Roxbury Road, in Stamford, rocked it on the back nine playing holes 9, 10, and 11 1-under par gross, with a bird on the downhill, par 4 11th, with its water-fronted green. Par on that uphill par 3 10th, with a huge back-to-front downhill sloping green, is an achievement alone. Then, to back it up with that bird on 11, and a par on the watery, up- and downhill dogleg right par 5 12th is spectacular. Well done Carol!
For the SNEWGA, a COVID-inspired scheduling change forced the Spring Cup, to be revised into the Summer Cup, for 2020 instead.
“The format for the Spring Cup was completely new this year,” Sheila Allen, the 2019-2020 SNEWGA president later wrote. “It was planned to kick off our season, but of course COVID-19 changed that, so it was rescheduled and called the Summer Cup for 2020. Yes, the plan is to return to Spring for 2021.”
This 2020 SNEWGA Summer Cup was a three round, four-person team, all net, competition that ran throughout August.
“So, for 2020, a new format was introduced. We went away from the doubles club team format to an open 4-player team event, taking our cue from our Open Team Championship, which has been extremely popular and sells out quickly every year since it was introduced as a 60th anniversary event in 2016,” the SNEWGA president explained.
The first round was held on August 9th, at the nearly century old Tull (British) brothers’-designed Norwich G.C., about 96 miles east of Sterling Farms.
Representing Sterling Farms, the SWGA, and yes… even themselves, at the SNEWGA Summer Cup, were not four, but, yes… five women!
Confusing? Yes, it is, but only slightly. The SWGA team originally consisted of the world-renowned Sterling Farms Golf Shop director of retail Myra Macmillan, SWGA president Jeanette Chagaris, SWGA head of publicity Jennifer Kaplan, and the 2020 SNEWGA Individual Net champion herself Carol Frattaroli. So, what’s gives about a player number five?
Enter West Hartford’s Rockledge G.C. golfing great Jenny Burrill, to the rescue. Myra was unable to play in that opening round that Sunday, August 8th, so Jenny stood in for her. And how did the hired gun do? She shot a scintillating gross score of 40-38-78!
Talk about a ringer! (I wonder if Jenny is available for hire, hmmm…. BTW: Rockledge is a snazzy course, in good shape, and liked by all up that way. Make a point of adding that venue to your CT bucket list.)
Yes, Stamford did rock the boat a little during that SNEWGA’s Summer Cup Sunday Shamble format opener, but Jenny’s great play was well-complimented by her fellow hosts and teammates, who of course, were not to be outdone!
“We love these team tournaments,” Jeanette later wrote. “The camaraderie we have, the trust we put in each other, and the support we give—and get—is like nothing else in golf.”
Sheila Allen explained a little more about the 2020 Summer Cup format:
“We also moved to a fun Shamble format, which is a ‘friendlier’ format to start the season, when we are all a little rusty from the long winter, yet also demands teamwork, and participation from all team members,” explains Sheila.
“The Cup was shortened to three rounds, and features a new concept where half the qualifying field advances to the second round, and is guaranteed to place in the final standings with a payout” she continued.
“Only the top two teams from the second round advance to the final. Those two final teams then play a team match, two players from each side against two players from the other side, so two best ball foursome matches total,” Sheila wrote.
“Each foursome match is worth 18 points (1 point per hole), and the team with the most points out of the 36 total points is declared the Spring Cup Champion. The format was extremely well-received this year, and many players telling us how much FUN they had. We will be keeping the format going forward,” said Sheila.
“We have such a blast, especially when we win,” Jeanette later reported, after she, Jenny, Carol, and Jen had sealed their qualification into the Semi-finals.
The SNEWGA’s Summer Cup has a storied history that traces back to the days when it was known as the Round Robin, with the first championship held in 1958, with clubs only named as the victors.
That first year, the women members of the 27-hole Goodwin Park, in Hartford, won. Stamford reared its head in those early days, winning the next two, but would be a no show until 1989! Can you believe it? It took almost 30 years before the golfers of Sterling Farms, actually, to regain some Stamford dignity, but only that one year. For yet another 17 years, our hometown would blank when it came to glory in the SNEWGA’s annual Round Robin, which was renamed the Spring Cup, in 2006.
“Before this year,” Sheila writes, “it indeed was a club event. I joined SNEWGA in 2011, and at that point it was a doubles event. Both members of a team had to be from the same SNEWGA club.”
Sheila continued: “There was also a weekday, and weekend, division. Both divisions had three traditional best ball (not Shamble) qualifying rounds which progressively whittled the field to two teams. Then there was a weekday final, and a weekend final. The winners from each division played each other for the overall Spring Cup title. So overall, a very grueling 5 rounds to determine a champion,” she wrote.
During that era, played a two-woman, five round, team series, it would take until 2007 for the women golfers of our fair town to reclaim some Stamford pride.
That year, two very familiar Stamford/Sterling Farms names made history: the Great Scot, Myra Macmillan, and the Great Champion herself, Carol Frattaroli. With only one victory, in roughly 46 years, Myra and Carol finally brought home the bacon, and ummm good, it must’ve been awfully tasty for them, and Stamford!
Hot on their trail, and bringing home yet another victory the following year, was the Stamford team of Debbie Johnson, and Linda Schaeffer.
Debbie, who won the SNEWGA’s Individual Championship twice (in 2006 and 2010), wrote me, after some pretty badger-like urging, about her golfing exploits:
“I’ve won the SNEWGA Championship twice, in 2006 and 2010. I won the Stamford Amateur four times, I believe. I’ve won the Oronoque CC club championship the last five consecutive years (2016-2020). And I won the Sterling Farms club championship, I believe twice. It was scheduled on weekdays, so I didn’t participate in that as often. I was also low amateur at the CT Open in 2009. If you want something on a larger scale, I’ve also been fortunate to play in 10 USGA national tournaments (split among State Team, Public Links, Mid-Amateur, and Senior Amateur).”
Debbie is a roack star!
Myra, Carol, Debbie, and Linda would be the last of the Mohicans (and I’m not trying to write Stamford out of existence ;-)… until… let us see….
It’s mid-August, and Stamford has its berth, safely ‘in’ the semis, which was next up on the docket, and held at the City of West Hartford-run, aforementioned late Air Force Sergeant Al Zikorus-designed, Rockledge G.C., on Sunday, August 23, 2020.
The top two teams that Sunday would eventually advance to the Finals, and yes, Team Stamford would play well at Rockledge on that 23rd day of August.
The four Stamford women golfers simply cranked it out of the park, with the long-ball hitter, Jen Kaplan, hammering her pellet around the gently rolling hills and smallish greens of Rockledge, in sub-par fashion (gross!) carding a 71… count ’em… 71 gross shots, for a net score of… 60!
Ya, the 11 handicapper shot a 71 gross….
I wrote Ms. Kaplan an e-mail awestruck at this performance, and she couldn’t even recall!
“Oh right! I can’t recall any specifics, but I shot 75”, (no, she shot a 71, lol 🙂 “which was low for me. Jeanette shot a 78, which is par for the course (!) for her. We played really well as a team, and ham and egged it nicely. The fact that we’re such great friends always makes our rounds fun—although it is always extra fun to win! “
Ya, no kidding. Each time I golf, I’m like a wounded hound, tailed shoved between my legs, shivering, afraid of my next 4-putt. Jen forgets her 71s! Lord.
Equally impressive, was how Kaplan got there, carding seven (7) ‘natural’ birdies during that roller-coaster of a 1-under-par 71 joy ride.
Now, I’ve had my suspicions about this golfer… she is one of those people who look through you on the way to their destination.
Think about it: How many Sterling Farms golfers do you know who go out, play this Shamble format (scramble off the tee, three drives per player), and card seven birdies in one round, in anything? (I’m not talking ‘net birdies’, I mean making five 3s on par 4s, and a pair of 2s on that golf course’s last two par 3s!) Sure, they all got to use the best tee ball, but to knock it stiff, make the putts, seven, birds? That’s a lot!
And Jennifer was hardly alone in that department. Carol’s own searing gross score of 76, Myra’s 79—with two great natural birdies on Nos. 13 and 17—and Jeanette’s even-par net 72 propelled the Stamford women to the pinnacle of that day’s leaderboard, as the group’s two best ball total, Net, worked out to an event-dominating 25-under-par tally; four shots better than their nearest competitors, who just happen to call Rockledge their home course! This Stamford women’s foursome was on FIRE….
And the Rockledge women’s team was exactly who the Stamfordians ultimately faced in the finals, played on August 30th, at the Michael and Karnig Ovian-designed, McDermott-family owned and operated, Tallwood Country Club in Hebron, about 15 miles southeast of Hartford.
The entire 2020 Summer Cup field, in two days of competition, had boiled down to the last two foursomes: Stamford vs.. Rockledge.
“In the finals,” Jeanette, the SWGA president said, “we had to split up. Carol and Myra teamed up to play against a twosome from the other team [Judith Kravitz and Barbara Collins], and Jen and I played against their other two [Barbara Corcoran and Mary Ellen Nichols].”
“So,” Jeanette continued, “the total aggregate score of our two best ball matches [was used]. Another big win for us. The one thing about team play is you can put a lot of pressure on yourself because you don’t want to let your team down, but on the flip side, they always have your back,” Jeanette added.
As previously mentioned, that final pair of SNEWGA Summer Cup matches was played out on course superintendent Larry Barrett’s well-manicured tees, greens, and fairways, which stretch to 5,424 yards, comparable to Sterling’s 5,402 yards, and playing to a par of 35-37-72
Only in 2020, the Summer Cup Finals would be decided on points. Each match was worth 18 points, with one point per hole awarded. Two matches, 36 total points distributed. If a team wins a hole, both players are awarded 1/2 a point. If a hole is halved, all four get a 1/4 point. The grand total points won, of the 36 available, determines the winning team.
Just before those final SNEWGA Summer Cup matches were to be contested, however, Myra Macmillan had already switched gears, and was busy representing Sterling Farms, and the Stamford women, at the SNEWGA Super Seniors and Legends Championship, held on August 19, 2020, at the other “Farm” in Simsbury, Connecticut! Busy, eh?
Myra, who was there in defence of the championship title she held, after winning the event last year, did Stamford, and Sterling Farms, all proud.
Her play—on the 6,509 yard par 72 Geoffrey Cornish-designed (yes, he is the man who designed Sterling Farms too) former Orkil Farms orchard, which graces 235 acres of rolling hills and picturesque views—was just outstanding, only this was in the heat of summer, which I know Myra does not like!
The Scottish-born Glaswegian Sterling Farms golfer, known for her pithy patter dialect, came out of Simsbury Farms’ gate slightly missing her jabs, and hooks, opening with a pair of bogeys on Nos. 1 and 2, but the golfing great quickly rallied back with pars on 3, 4, 6, 8 & 9 to go out in 40!
She made four pars in succession, after the turn, heading home.
Imagine how good Myra was playing in defense of her title, having made par on eight, out of 13, holes!
With the ship seemingly ‘righted’, Myra suddenly hit the skids with an unfortunate stretch of holes—on Nos. 14-17—perhaps the result of a lapse in concentration. Whatever struck the lass, it was enough to keep the great Sterling Farms golfer from championing the entire field, and defending her title, yet again on that mid-Summer August day. Nonetheless: a stellar showing, indeed! Well done Myra!
In addition to winning the SNEWGA’s Super Senior Individual Gross title last year, Myra also won the SNEWGA’s 2007 and 2008 Seniors Individual Gross titles.
It was, alas, about time for the August 30th SNEWGA Summer Cup finale, at Tallwood C.C., to commence. Jeanette Chagaris joined partner Jennifer Kaplan, and Myra Macmillan joined Carol Frattaroli, as the four ventured north to ensure the engraver’s got it right. “Stamford”, with a capital “S”, please.
The golf was grand, and the matches hard fought, with the handicap difference between Stamford’s Chagaris/Kaplan team, and Rockledge’s Barbara Corcoran and Mary Ellen Nichols , a full 16 shots in favor of the latter, but ! must say, Team Rockledge battled hard, and were anything but, sandbaggers!
Mary Ellen, a 20, shot a terrific gross score of 44-43-87. She won four of the five holes they’d ultimately grab, and an 87 at Tallwood C.C. is pretty darn good!
Mary Ellen’s teammate, Barbara, tried and tried. I can tell from her scorecard she just couldn’t gain any momentum, and as a result, the duo’s point tally was not the best.
It didn’t help that the Stamford Steamrollers, Jeanette and Jennifer, were unstoppable. The two of them combined to win five of their first seven holes. Between them, their best ball score heading out was 31! Birdie, par, par, birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie, etc. Like a machine gun, these two were playing automatic golf.
Right there were Carol Frattaroli and Myra Macmillan, getting 16 shots to their fellow competitors’ Judith Kravitz’ and Barbara Collins’ 36… so net 20 shots to Judith and Barbara, right outta the gate.
In spite of the strokes, the fairness of handicapping prevailed, as the match was hard fought, and a tie right up until the final hole. Trying their darnedest to shrug off the two Rockledge, West Hartfordians, Myra and Carol, must have had their hands full, and credit needs to go to both Barbara and Judith, whose consistent play, pinned our superstars to the tee. Then, on the blind, 314 yard par 4 18th finisher, Judith’s bogey, for a net par, was all they needed to seal the deal, and put away our two great champions. (I’m sure it must’ve killed both Carol, and Myra, to have made both bogey for such a disappointing finish. But, it was ‘all good’ for Stamford.
That was the brilliance of the format: you see, it was the point totals that exacted how this event ultimately squared itself with the heroic efforts of all contestants.
When the points were added up, Team Stamford had 19.5, with Jeanette and Jennifer atop the leaderboard with 5.5+5.5=11; and Carol and Myra’s points totalled 4.25 each for pairing tally of 8.5.
Barbara and Judith, in fact everybody, played beautifully, and while they won their match against Carol and Myra, and combined for a 4.74+4.75 tally of 9.5 points, second only to Jeanette and Jennifer’s totals, it would not be enough to capture the ultimate prize, I’m afraid.
Barbara and Judith’s 9.5 was combined with Mary Ellen, and her Barbara’s, pair of 3.5s equalling 7, for a Rockledge Team 16.5 total, shy of the Stamford stars by just 3.
Stamford’s Jeanette Chagaris, Jennifer Kaplan, Carol Frattaroli, and Myra Macmillan won the 2020 SNEWGA Summer Cup Championships, for only the sixth time in (almost) as many decades since the event was started back in 1958, by just enough: three whole points!
Now, most of us would be drinking champagne out of a Sterling silver goblet, but not the Stamford women, ohhhh no! The next day, bright and early, the Stamford women fired up their SUVs, doubled checked the metal inside their golf bags, counted ammo, put on their spurs and spikeless shoes, and readied themselves in that familiar, steely way that the gunslingers do, before a firefight. Only this time, they weren’t converging on the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, but instead, drove to the storied Augusta-like tree-lined entrance way of Longshore Golf Course, the 1920s Orin E. Smith classic revered by the folks at Golf Digest, right up the road in Trumbull, as one of the “best places to play”.
The Longshore Golf Course hosted the SCWGA’s second to last seasonal club event, and Team Stamford was front and center at the cozy little seaside Westport links.
That day, Darie Donovan, won C Flight Net honors, yet again, this time with a minty 70. Right there in the hunt, was runner-up, and fellow Stamfordian, Mary Ann DeRosa, with a stellar 73.
The B Flight’s Gross Division featured Stamford’s Sharon Clarke, who refused to settle for anything less than sole possession of third. Sharon was outgunned that day by two Tashua Knolls golfers: Regina Evans, the B-Flight Gross champion, and Kathy DeMatteo, the runner-up.
But it is the unrelenting, super-charged, Stamford golfing unbeatables, who brought home yet another bevy of championship medals. Jeanette Chagaris led the field that day, shooting a silky 79, while her fellow Stamford champion, Carol Frattaroli sealed the runner-up slot with an equally impressive 81, just two back. Jennifer Kaplan took third place with an 83, and after a match of cards.
The SCWGA only had one more 2020 seasonal tournament left, held at the famed Sergeant Al Zikorus-designed, 27-Hole Tashua Knolls golf complex, in Trumbull, on September 14th, 2020.
Rare, as it may seem, but Stamford nearly blanked, save for the smashing efforts of one Darie Donovan, the SWGA Board of Governor to be and Savannah, Georgia Landings Club snowbird, whose match of cards, and super 79, put Stamford in the runner-up spot, C-Flight Net division. Without Darie’s fine play, and participation, Stamford would have been an apparent no-show in what was the last regular SCWGA tournament of the year, sans their major, of course….
The SCWGA’s Club Championship is that association’s major, and caps off their year each season. This is a storied event, contested throughout a distinguished 56 year history, and Barbara “Boo” Robinson, and Susan Sheehan, a pair of guiding lights about the SCWGA all year, wrote:
“In 1981, during a meeting of the SCWGA Board, it was unanimously voted to honor Carolyn, and name the Club Championship: ‘The Carolyn Federici Club Championship’. Her name now appears on the yearly flyer, and on the Club Championship Plaque.”
Sue and Boo had previously explained the Carolyn was not only among the SCWGA’s original founders, but also that organization’s first president. The fealty, strength, and commitment—of the women, and the clubs that comprise the SCWGA—is just tops!
And the outstanding women golfers of Stamford, led by none other than the fearless golfing Sheba herself, Jeanette Chagaris, and her secret agent buddy Jennifer Kaplan, would travel all the way to Oak Hills G.C. in Norwalk, where Team Stamford would leave its indelible mark on this year’s Carolyn Federici Club Championship, with sheer brute force.
Sue and Boo wrote: “The Carolyn Federici Club Championship is hosted every year by a different Member Club. This year, the Championship was held at Oak Hills Park, but hosted by Ridgefield Golf Club.”
The Carolyn Federici Club Championship was held on October 5, 2020. I happened to be at that very event, held at the golf course where our esteemed leader, the Stamford Golf Authority executive director, Paul Grillo, earned his salts. It is a golf course Paul’s PGA golf pro father, Vince, had opened, and was head golf professional, for over three decades.
It is Oak Hills G.C., where you’ll find an unassuming bronze plaque honoring Paul’s dad Vince. It rests by the pond adjoining the first tee, and the starter’s building.
Oak Hills is a unique and mixed venue, with holes that feel like both a links, and others with wide, open, rolling fairways. Huge power lines crisscross several holes, and can come into play.
I wrangled a golf cart, and rode out in search of the Stamford pack. It didn’t take long to find Jeanette, who was in the middle of the long, testy, 8th fairway, along with Stamford’s own Jennifer Kaplan, Janie Cloutier, and Cindy Kabat.
Now, for those of you who do not know Oak Hills G.C., No. 8 is a very long hole, playing as a ladies’ 5 par. I had observed where Jeanette and Jennifer’s drives were, and thought: “Holy cow, these women can really hammer it!” Well, on this particular golf hole, even the longest of hitters are faced with a testy second into a big green, guarded by a huge bunker front right. And, as I mentioned before, there are power lines that come into play (I know, I’ve hit them, which drives me crazy!).
Now, I am uncertain as to what their yardages were, but it wasn’t a wedge shot! Probably a mid-iron, or more. They were unfazed by the hole. Just went about their business, as I trailed along.
I never did watch their finish, but Boo and Sue wrote of the result triumphantly: “Our Champion for 2020, shooting a superb 87, was Jeanette Chagaris of the Stamford Women’s Golf Association.”
Jen Kaplan later reflected on her performance, writing: “I came in 2nd place. The highlight was a birdie on the hole you photographed us on. I needed more good holes like that!”
A kind of self-made, journeywoman golfer, Jeanette said of her victory at Oak Hills: “Honestly, not my best day, so I was kind of surprised by the win. I think I finished strong which helped the cause.”
I’ll say! Good job for the sporty, level-headed ‘presidential’ champion. I was curious to know more about Jeanette, who puts so much into Stamford women’s golf.
“I started playing as I was finishing college,” the 2012 and 2014 Stamford City Amateur Golf Championship winner wrote.
“Actually took a golf course at BU my last semester there, and was hooked! So I never played in HS, or college, on their teams.”
But Jeanette’s winning ways have come over and over, time and again. She is a two-time Stamford City Amateur Golf Championship titleist, and was also a runner-up, twice, having lost to her friend and rival, the great traditionalist golfer, Carol Frattaroli—who marches down the fairways with a marked, almost dogged determination—in a playoff in 2015, and once again in 2017.
“I have so many fond memories of golf, so don’t think I have one”, Jeanette recalls about her years of play. “But one that comes to mind is beating a scratch golfer heads up in a Solheim Cup style tournament we usually play every year. It’s called the Macmillan Cup. I beat her by shooting a 76. That was a really good day for me. And one other really cool golf memory is playing by the Pyramids in Giza, Egypt. What an incredible backdrop.” Indeed, I’ve been there, and unlike Sterling Farms, they have real camels out there in Giza!
Teetering on the cusp of October, on September 27th, Stamford women elites, playing as teams: Jeanette Chagaris/Jennifer Kaplan, and Myra Macmillan/Carol Frattaroli, unleashed their fury upon the strong field of golfers representing clubs from all over New England, once again, when the two Stamford teams journeyed to compete in the Region II SNEWGA Presidents Cup Best Ball/Alternate Shot qualifier held at the fabulous, and very difficult, Arnold Palmer-designed Gillette Ridge Golf Club in Bloomfield, near Hartford.
“So, both Regions I and II started with 16 teams, Jeanette Chagaris wrote of the SNEWGA President’s Cup format. “The top two in each region advanced to the Regional Semi-Final. Then those winners went on to the Championship,” the SWGA president said.
The amazing, and fearless, SWGA-representing duos—Jeanette and Jen; and Myra and Carol—took the event’s first, and fifth, places respectively, with Jeanette and Jennifer volleying their way through the final nine hole alternate shot format shooting a scorching 3-under-par on a golf course with a slope/course rating of 138/73.7!
Myra Macmillan came out of the gate with gross birdies on two of the golf course’s four opening holes, but the Macmillan/Frattaroli team faltered heading out, losing two shots on Nos. 6 and 8, and lost further ground with a bogey on No. 9 , which was a stroke hole for them. Their back nine alternate shot play got off to a good start, but then the great duo faltered with each making a triple bogey on the short, but dastardly par 4 14th, which features a shallow green protected by bunkers and a ravine.
Nonetheless, the two played like champions, and earned a top 5 finish for their efforts, outpacing 11 other teams that day. Not too shabby ‘tall!
But it would be the roaring lionesses, Jeanette Chagaris and Jen Kaplan, who would ultimately run the tables that day, crowned the champions of the Region II SNEWGA Presidents Cup Best Ball/Alternate Shot qualifier.
Both SWGA golfers ham and egged it on the Best Ball opening nine holes, losing only a shot to par on No. 7, a tight downhill 4 par with a forced carry over wetlands.
Jennifer capitalized on the par 4 opening hole, which is unique because of the Isamu Noguchi “Family” sculptures that are supposed to bring golfers good luck, as they stare at the carry over water they must play on their first shot! She stroked on that hole, and made a net birdie.
Jeanette picked up another stroke for the team on the tight-driving par 4 fifth, with a gross birdie on this visually intimidating tree-lined golf hole.
Jeanette must have been able to taste victory, and she showed it by making a net birdie on the second hardest hole of the front nine, No. 8, known for its unique green partially built on an existing bridge over wetlands.
Then, on the course’s No. 1 handicap hole, No. 9, the right honorable SWGA president crafted a glorious birdie 3, net eagle. (No. 9 is the longest par 4 on the course, and required Jeanette to carry the wetlands off the tee, split the fairway bunkers left and right, and then carry the pond and bunker that guard the front of a peninsula green!) Victory was near, after a stellar 32 opener!
“The first round that Jen and I played together, at Gillette Ridge, was one of those magical golf days,” wrote Jeanette. “We usually play great together, and really compliment each other so well. She can bomb the ball, where I’m very consistent with my drives. And on this specific round we had everything going, and were able to shoot even par gross, and 7 under net, giving us first place in our region.”
The duo continued their march toward victory on the back nine, where the Alternate Shot format kicked in. Each would bring it home in style. All pars, including net birdies on three stroke holes, netted them a 3-under-par 33, finishing round one of this prestigious event 32-33-65! (Heck, I can shot 65, on the front at Sterling, anytime!)
“We had a par on every single alternate shot hole,” Jeanette later recalled, “which can be a real challenge. Just shows how ‘on’ we were that day. We had such a blast.”
Next was the Regional II Finals, which pitted the Stamford champs against the qualifier’s runner-up team of Leslie Pitiger and Sangsook Cho of the Hunter Golf Club in Meriden. Leslie and Sangsook are accustomed to a great layout in a beautiful, natural setting. Their course features elevation changes galore, and was built in numerous starts, beginning with the original nine, which was laid out by a local engineer, and distant cousin of Donald Ross, named R.J. Ross!
I know these two ladies can play, as I’ve had my time on those links at Hunter, and Jeanette and Jennifer would indeed have their hands full with them!
It was Thursday, October 8th, 2020, and a match play format, net, was the order for the day. Leslie got 13 shots, and Sansook got 18. Jeanette got… none, and Jennifer just two. So, as these two teams went off of No. 1, there were net 29 shots given to the Pitiger/Cho team!
“I don’t think we played as well as we did in our first round,” Jeanette later recalled. “We played this match at Smith Richardson, and it was 18-hole net match play, best ball. Jen and I really had to grind on this day to eke out the win. It was really tough as we had to give a lot of strokes. At least one of our opponents had a stroke on every hole. It came down to the 18th hole. We went into that hole 1 up, so if they won the hole we would have to go to a playoff. Luckily, we took that hole and end up winning 2 up. Whew!”
Indeed! The great Stamford champions, Jeanette Chagaris, and partner Jennifer Kaplan, were just one match away from Southern New England Women’s Golf Association Presidents Cup glory, but it would require them to rise to the occasion on October 25, 2020 at the Hal C. Purdy-designed Whitney Farms Golf Course in Monroe, with its horseshoe logo, and renowned reputation for equestrian care and training, at its sister property: Chester Hill Farm, owned by James and Gertrud Bargas.
“And then came the Championship against a really good team, and friends of ours: Carole Oat and Lisa Lavoie,” Jeanette recalled.
“This was a much more evenly contested match. Jen and I didn’t have a great start, not winning a single hole on the front nine,” said Jeanette.
In fact, the Chagaris/Kaplan duo were playing against one of the winningest two-women teams in all of Connecticut! Carole Oat, and Lisa Lavoie, of the Wallingford C.C., have won the SNEWGA’s Member/Member Gross Championship title (including 2018 and 2019) three times, and the Net title twice, since the event began in 2007.) Jeanette and Jennifer certainly had their hands full!!!
Carole Oat came out swinging with a gross birdie on No. 1, Whitney Farms’ 375-yard par 4 opener. Then they won No. 5 with bogeys, and Lisa Lavoie made par, net bird, on the golf course’s number one handicap hole: the 510 yard par 5 6th.
“We were down 3 going into the back nine”, Jeanette explained. “And that’s when our comeback started. Jen had a great hole, on 10 (she made a par 4 to win), getting us one closer. Then we won 13 and 14 pulling us even, but then immediately went 1 down on the next hole. The next three holes proved to decide the match as we won 16 and 17 to go up one, and held on at 18 with a chip to gimmie range that closed it out, giving us the Championship! I really think this win, over these three rounds, was some of the best and most exciting golf Jen and I have ever played. I’ll never forget it!”
The adventurers are the rightly proud members, officers, and trustees of the Stamford Women’s Golf Association. They traveled far and wide, championed venues all over the state of Connecticut, and overcame the pitfalls, and challenges, arising from COVID-19, by refusing to let themselves be beaten… not by the virus, nor any other team. While the SWGA Adventurers didn’t win everything, they sure came close. They did Sterling Farms, and Stamford, proud. Well done, ladies! I will see you all in 2021….
From the desk of Paul grillo, executive director, Stamford Golf Authority
Welcome to Sterling Farms Golfer. Over the past five decades, Sterling Farms has evolved into one of the premiere golf destinations anywhere in the region. We continually strive to maintain, if not exceed, that distinction, and know we owe it all to our Stamford families, friends and neighbors, as well as our patrons like you. Now is the best time of the year to play our spectacular 18 hole championship golf course. Our Golf Course Superintendent, Mike Golden, and his whole team, are leaders in the world of greenkeeping, and we are very proud of the quality of their hard work. I think you'll find our putting greens, fairways, tees, roughs—and every landscape feature here—reflects their devotion and hard work. It is spectacular. Sterling Farms is home to the area's top driving range facility. You won't find a better value, or level of quality, anywhere! We take great pride and joy serving you, and our local community. On behalf of all of us here at Sterling Farms, welcome and thank you!