MERIDEN — It was Les Zimmerman — surprise, surprise — who had the quip of the day.
This was Friday afternoon, after Zimmerman knocked down a pair of 40-yard chips for his only birdies in the final round of the 2020 Meriden Senior Golf Championship at Hunter Golf Club.
“Couldn’t putt one in,” said Les. “I’m better off missing greens.”
Even if Zimmerman is not putting with his usual fine touch, even if the season’s late start has his overall game feeling a little out of sorts, Meriden’s Maestro of the Muni remains the man to beat.
Following up on Thursday’s opening-round 76, the 71-year-old Zimmerman shot his age Friday to successfully defend his Meriden senior title. His 147 was two strokes to the good on runner-up Paul Bernier.
“This year, I’ve been a little better consistency-wise, but not like it used to be,” said Zimmerman, who now has eight city senior crowns to his name. “I still practice a lot, hit balls a lot. I’ve had trouble taking it from the range to the golf course. Today, it worked out. I knew sooner or later the ball was going to start going in the hole.”
That happened most dramatically Friday on No. 7 and No. 12. Zimmerman chipped dead center on both holes. The one on No. 12 was particularly impressive, given the contoured green.
The chips enabled Zimmerman to hold off Bernier, who birdied 17 to close to within one stroke. On 18, however, Bernier was errant off the tee and wound up bogeying while Zimmerman parred to seal the title.
“I’ve got to give Paul Bernier credit,” Zimmerman said. “He played well — very good yesterday and he didn’t make any major mistakes today. It was a good competitive match.”
There were two other tournament winners. One was Del Weston, the net champion with a 140.
Mike Rusate also came in at 140. A match of cards settled the issue: best score on Friday’s back nine. That was all Weston, who birdied 10, 17 and 18.
Weston shot a gross 79 in each round, but the road to the matching sum was wildly divergent. Weston carded a 10 on No. 8 on Thursday.
“And I didn’t even lose the ball,” Weston laughed. “This time I spread those extra strokes around the rest of the holes.”
The other winner — a collective, in this case — was course superintendent Tom DeVaux and his staff. With the help of some city workers, DeVaux’s crew cleared Hunter of the numerous trees that came down in Tuesday’s storm, including four or five that fell into the field of play.
“You know, you look at a big tree and it’s overwhelming,” remarked Hunter’s head club pro, Bob Tiedemann. “To look at a golf course and to see how much damage was done, they did a great job getting it back to where it’s playable.”
The senior event was one of four city championships is again hosting this year. The Junior Championship, normally tied to the high school season, was played Thursday. Josh Farnsworth won with a 96.
Next weekend is the Hyundai Meriden Open. The men play Saturday and Sunday, the women on Sunday.
Zimmerman is looking forward to the Open after missing last year’s event due to illness and two of the previous three editions due to injury.
He knows, however, that Hunter pro Spencer Wedge as well as defending champion Chuck Stupakevich will be difficult to take down.
“It’s a totally different ball game with them playing,” Zimmerman said.
Remember, though, along with those eight senior titles, Zimmerman has won 12 Meriden championships. That’s a record.
Zimmerman is also coming off a nice triumph with his son Brett at the inaugural Parent Child Championship at Wethersfield Country Club.
The Parent Child, a Connecticut State Golf Association event, replaced the Father-Son Net Tournament, expanding the traditional field to women. It also changed the rules, going from best ball to Chapman format.
With Chapman, both players tee off, then play each other’s ball for the second shot. One of those second shots is chosen to continue play, with partners alternating turns.
The par-3’s are the exception. There, the best-ball rule is essentially in effect: The choice of ball is made after the tee shots.
The Zimmermans shot a even-par 71 and won the Men’s Flight on a match of cards. Les came away a fan of the new format.
“It’s a little easier and it’s more fun to play,” he said. “I think as time goes on and people hear about it, it’s going to gain in popularity.”