Connor Goode after winning the 80th Junior Amateur
Glastonbury High’s Connor Goode won the 80th annual Connecticut Junior Amateur Golf Tournament at the Watertown Golf Club on July 23.
Goode, who will be at senior at GHS this fall, defeated defending-champion Matt Doyle in match play to win the longstanding summer tourney.
“I was very excited after I won. Playing against Matt I really thought I would have needed a lot to go my way to win that one, so it was rewarding,” stated Goode.
Goode’s journey to get to the championship match was a bit chaotic. He qualified for the round of 32 by competing in a nine-person playoff hole for three remaining spots.
Because of a weather delay and players finishing up, Goode had to wait four hours after his round finished before the playoff started. He shot a birdie on the first playoff hole, securing the #31-seed.
In the first round, he upended #2 seed Jack Bosworth (Simsbury) on a playoff hole.
“I wasn’t really concerned who I was playing, I was just happy that was I there,” Goode said of the round of 32, “My first match was really my toughest match. I was playing against the kid that beat me in this same tournament last year and eliminated me. Once I got through that, I already had two crazy ways to keep playing and I started playing better and better golf as the tournament went on.”
Goode then eliminated #18 Christopher Pieper (Woodbury) in the round of 16, #10 Elias Kennon (Old Greenwich) in the quarterfinals, and #30 Bennett Ostern (Weatogue) in the semifinals.
Following two-week delay because of potentially severe weather, Goode and Doyle finally faced one another in the highly anticipated final. The delay allowed Goode to squeeze in a few extra tournaments to stay sharp.
“I wasn’t really stressing that much, I was pretty happy with where I had gotten to. It was just another round and I had been playing pretty solid golf, so there was reason to stress over one round of golf. I just tried to treat it like a normal round and shoot a low score,” recalled Goode.
Goode was strong from the start, taking a three-stroke lead into the back nine before winning it with an eight-foot putt on the 16th hole.
“My putting has always been my strength,” said Goode, “When I was younger, all the kids I would play against would hit it further than me so I would need to compensate by being better around the greens. The reason my golf game has taken a jump in the last couple of years is because I have been able to hit the ball a little better and further, so it’s starting to link up together with my putting and has allowed me to improve.”
During the quarantine of 2020, Goode was able to modify his swing.
“When football season was cancelled my junior year we had no tournaments scheduled, so I knew I had two or three extra months to practice and made a lot of swing changes,” said Goode, who previously played football at GHS, “When I started hitting the ball better and playing better, my confidence went up a lot. I have a lot more confidence in my swing.”
Goode is making up for lost time, playing more golf than ever. Even after winning the Junior Amateur, he had the car packed and immediately drove to New Jersey for another tourney.
All of the pressure-filled situations is paying off for Goode, who finished tied for 2nd in the Division I high school tournament this past spring.
“When you’re playing against a kid that has less experience in pressure situations than you it definitely gives you an advantage. Earlier in the year in April I had a playoff in a different tournament and lost that one so it was definitely a learning experience coming into this tournament,” said Goode, who has learned to play with more tranquility, “Staying calm is definitely the most important thing on the golf course. It’s something that has come along in the past few years. I’ve gotten better at having a better mindset on the golf course. When I’m able to stay calm and not lose it over one shot, I can play my best golf.”
Starting this school year, boys high school golf has been moved from the spring to the fall, meaning that Goode is only weeks away from the start of his final high school season.
He believes that the move to fall should improve the quality of play because players will be coming in fresh from summer tournaments.
“Right now I’m working on my shot selection. I am starting to get to the point where I can hit the shots I want to but it’s picking the right shot to hit at the right time. That also has to do with confidence, being decisive about what you are going to hit.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin