GOLF: At 70, Aldrich and Zanetto are still going strong, often in tandem

GOLF: At 70, Aldrich and Zanetto are still going strong, often in tandem

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MERIDEN — It’s been more than five decades since Diane Maloney Aldrich and Pam Zanetto began tearing it up as the two best female golfers in Meriden and among the best in the state.

The two have combined for three Connecticut Women’s Golf Association junior amateur titles and eight Meriden City titles and more than 40 club championships at three different country clubs.

They have combined for four course records. Zanetto has seven holes-in-one for her career and Aldrich has carded four.

This year, both celebrated their 70th birthdays. Both are still dominating on the course. When they team up at each other’s member-guest events, they don’t lose

“We are very consistent and down the middle and keep the ball in play,” Zanetto said. “We complement each other. We are always encouraging each other and have a good time with it. It’s rare we hit a ball into the woods. We are consistent. That’s the key.”

The two1967 Maloney grads first burst onto the scene in the mid 1960s when Aldrich won a pair of junior championships and Zanetto won one.

Aldrich, who still lives in Meriden, held course records at Hunter Golf Club, Wallingford Country Club and The Farms Country Club. She has been Meriden city champion fives times and is an 18-time champ at Wallingford Country Club.

Aldrich also owns the Wallingford Country Club course record at 72. She made that in 1992. She previously held course records at The Farms and Hunter Golf Club.

Zanetto, who now lives in Torrington, held the Torrington Country Club’s women’s title for more than two decades. She’s won many tournaments over the years, including the Legends Championship (70-and-over) at Hop Meadow Country Club in Simsbury in early August.

“We are both playing and still winning,” said Zanetto, who noted that she is the only golfer in the state to ever win the junior, state and legends championships.

“That was my goal when I turned 70: to win the legends championship,” Zanetto said.

Zanetto also won the Sherwood Women’s Invitational in Stockbridge Country Club in Massachusetts this summer. It was the 11th time she won the crown.

Zanetto did say she’s gotten away from individual tournaments and focuses more on teaming up and doing best-ball events.

“It takes the pressure off and it’s a lot more fun,” Zanetto said.

Aldrich and Zanetto started playing the sport together at age 11 in Meriden. They were female golfing pioneers in the ‘60s, playing mainly against boys.

“Our dads taught us,” Aldrich said. “We were very good friends. I lived near the golf course and my dad took me to hit balls. Our first tournament together was the City Championship and she beat me on the 19th hole. That was a lot of fun. We were both 14-years old.”

After high school, Aldrich stayed off the golf course for about two decades. She married her husband of 48 years, Mark, and the couple had two children (Brian and Kelly) and five grandchildren (Chase, Jake, Bret, Evan, Olivia).

Aldrich last played in the Meriden City Championship in 2004, a tournament she won in honor of her father Les, who had died that year.

“My tempo is good on the course,” Aldrich said. “I keep my head down. My father used to read golf books and taught me how to play. I would call him for advice. I give all my credit to my father. We would play 36 holes together like it was nothing.”

Aldrich and Zanetto bumped into each other after a 20-year hiatus and re-sparked their friendship on the course. Both are on the course at least three times a week and it’s like old times.

“We hung out and played golf all of the time,” Aldrich said. “Golf kept us out of trouble. We had each other and it was nice to have a golf buddy. It’s scary going to these tournaments, but I always knew Pam was there with me.

“Pam and I would agree that we wouldn’t have done what we did unless we had each other,” she added. “Playing in those tournaments, we always had each other.”

Aldrich said she would like to see more girls on the course.

“I wish there were more young golfers in Meriden,” Aldrich said. “It’s a great sport and nice for couples.”

The wins haven’t come without cost. Zanetto has had both elbows operated on for overuse. She’s also had torn tendons and knee surgery.

Both golfers, though, have no plans on hanging up their clubs and cleats any time soon.

“I hope to play as long as i can,” Zanetto said. “I’ve been a member of Torrington Country Club for over 40 years. I walk nine holes and ride the back nine. I get my exercise and have fun with it. Hopefully, I can keep it going.”

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