TK Invitational Hits Hanover Links

Hanover — At least one member of every championship team since 2000 will be teeing it up at Hanover Country Club in today’s qualifying for the Tommy Keane Invitational.

Now in its 39th renewal, the Four Ball tournament honors Tommy Keane, who coached golf at Dartmouth College and served as head professional at Hanover Country Club from 1922 until 1966. Keane finished his career with a record of 305-176-5 with his 1934 team claiming the New England championship and his ’41 team being crowned Eastern Intercollegiate Tournament champions.

A total of 52 teams will take part in qualifying that will determine flights for match play Saturday and Sunday.

“This is one of the unique tournaments in New England because it’s a gross event,” said Hanover Country Club pro Alex Kirk. “There are no handicaps. There’s good competition with everyone flighted based on their ability.

“We have 52 teams and we’re starting to see some new ones this year, with some even coming over from the Seacoast. I think we’re seeing a little turning of the tide with the next wave of players starting to come along.

“They are grabbing some of their friends and having a good time. There’s good camaraderie that you can already see with the guys out on the back deck after their practice round.”

Former Hartford High School standouts Jake Obar and Joe Toland teamed up a year ago to earn first day medalist honors in qualifying with a 66.

Lebanon High School alums Tyler Silver and Zach Pollard, who qualified with a 69 last year, went on to earn the 2013 championship flight title with a 3&1 win over the father-son team of Shane and Nick MacDonald, also of Lebanon.

Pollard will be joined this year by Bentley College teammate Sal Visali of West Barnstable, Mass., while the MacDonalds, who won the TKI in 2010, will team up once again.

The list of notable area golfers who have played on winning Tommy Keane teams over the years includes former Dartmouth All-America Jery Daly, Lebanon’s Rich Parker, who went on to success as a touring professional and now coaches the Dartmouth men’s team; Hanover’s Sam Brackett, who would play for a number of years on the New England pro circuit; Nick MacDonald and Obar, who both played in the U.S. Amateur; and current pro Peter Williamson.

It was a difficult winter for Hanover Country Club but Kirk is confident the competitors who saw the course when it first opened will appreciate where it is now.

“This was the roughest start we’ve had in my tenure,” he said. “The grounds crew has done the best they could with the hand they were dealt and it’s been coming around. The grass is growing and we’ve been rolling the greens.

“It’s in the best condition it could be considering the winter we had.”