WALLINGFORD — The 17th annual Wallingford Golf Championships sponsored by the David J. Doherty Scholarship Fund is approaching the first tee at Wallingford Country Club, but there is still time to join in the fun.
The Doherty family is inviting the spontaneous among Wallingford’s tee-to-green set to come over today at mid-morning, partake in competitive play, excellent food and town camaraderie to support causes that David Doherty encouraged.
“We will still take late sign-ins,” said John Doherty, brother of the late Sheehan High civics teacher and town councilor who died suddenly in 1997 at 55. “Come around 10 and sign in early. The weather’s going to be great. We’ve only had rain once in 17 years.”
The $165 fee for the tournament also known as the Doherty Cup includes a commemorative gift, a brunch buffet, 18 holes of golf with cart usage, a clinic with a golf pro, beverages at the Eagle’s Nest Snack Shack, a 19th-hole reception with light appetizers and entertainment and a banquet dinner.
Champions will be crowned in the men’s, women’s and senior’s (60 and over) divisions in individual stroke play. There will also be a four-person team scramble championship. Prizes are awarded for winners in the gross, net and Calloway scoring criteria.
Special-skills contests for both men and women will include: putting; longest drive; closest to the line (Hole 1); hole-in-one (all par-3’s); closest to the pin (Hole 16).
But the true winners are always the scholarship recipients. Stipends for $2,500 will be awarded to Danielle Richetelli and Angela Williams of Sheehan High School.
The Wallingford Family YMCA Youth and Government Program will receive $1,000. The 66-year-old program introduces students to the operation of the Connecticut General Assembly through participation in a mock legislative session.
The shotgun start is at 12:15 p.m. sharp. It is preceded by registration and a putting contest (10-11:45 a.m.), a brunch buffet (10:30-11:45) and a clinic at the driving range (11-11:20). A reception and silent auction will run from 5 to 6:15 p.m., with dinner, award presentations and raffle awards to follow.
John Doherty said participation in the event has held steady for the last five years. He said about 72 golfers have signed up to play.
“It’s difficult to get golfers, but not sponsors and raffle prizes,” he said. “The community has been great. We have 30-to-35 sponsors and about 100 raffle prizes worth about $11,000.”
He said the tournament used to draw well over 100 golfers.
“It’s the economy,” he said. “Everybody’s out working. I used to hear the excuse that they’ve played in three or four tournaments already and it’s too expensive but I never hear that excuse anymore. We have the volunteers. We have 15 who work all day but it’s tough to have a golf tournament without golfers.”
About the time of David’s untimely passing, John and his wife Elaine turned a brainstorm into what would become a Wallingford tradition.
“We thought it was a good idea to [commemorate] the loss of my brother with people who would play in his honor. There was no town championship. I grew up in Meriden where we always had one. I felt we should have one,” John Doherty said.
He said Mayor William Dickinson would be there passing out trophies as he has for the first 16 tournaments.
During the cocktail hour as golfers come into the clubhouse, they will be regaled by solo musician Dennis Bonito, a magician and a three-piece ensemble.