Lebanon’s Pelletier taking his cut at the national stage

  • Hanover Country Club's Pat Pelletier chips during a New Hampshire Amateur quarterfinal match on July 12, 2018, in Hanover, N.H. A Lebanon native and resident, Pelletier plans to accept an exemption into the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in Colorado next month. Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file photograph — Greg Fennell

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 8/9/2019 9:36:02 PM
Modified: 8/10/2019 8:09:33 AM

LEBANON — Golfer Pat Pelletier chose to regain his amateur status a couple of years ago to help reduce his competition expenses and have more time to spend with his newborn son. And that’s exactly what happened — but he’s still so good with a club in his hands, too.

It amuses Pelletier to think of it now, especially given son Decker is 3 years old and Decker’s father has gainful employment with the Quechee Club’s golf operations staff.

Dad has been doing so well on the course, however, that it’s led to a juicy opportunity of which he’s about to take advantage: next month’s U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in suburban Denver.

Pelletier added to a two-year run of success by winning his second consecutive New Hampshire Stroke Play Championship on Thursday. That result joined an eighth-place finish in the New England Amateur at Quechee in late July, a fourth-place result at the Vermont Amateur in mid-July and a top-three amateur placement at June’s Vermont Open.

Those finishes, as well as others from 2018, garnered Pelletier enough points in the World Amateur Golf Ranking’s mid-amateur standings that the Lebanon High School graduate received an exemption into the U.S. Mid-Am, scheduled for Sept. 14-19 at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, southeast of downtown Denver, earlier this summer. Speaking after Thursday’s Stroke Play win, Pelletier said he expects to sign up.

“I’m planning on going; I’m 99.9% sure I’m going,” Pelletier said in a phone interview. “I’ve got to figure it out. The people at Quechee that I work with are encouraging me to go. I have to pull the trigger and get the plane ticket and book the hotel room.”

The U.S. Mid-Am is open to all players ages 25 and older. Austin Eaton III, competing out of New London’s Lake Sunapee Country Club at the time, won the 2004 title, which brought with it — as will be the case next month — the prize of an invitation to the next year’s Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga.

As with all United States Golf Association championships, the Mid-Am stages qualifiers around the country to build its 264-golfer field. The USGA also grants exemptions to the top 30 players in the WAGR mid-am rankings, and that led to Pelletier’s invitation.

With points accrued from his various New England successes the last two years, WAGR ranked Pelletier 130th in the world among all amateurs as of Wednesday and sixth out of all ranked amateurs at least 25 years of age. It’ll be the 31-year-old Pelletier’s first visit to a USGA national championship tournament.

“I’ve been successful in New Hampshire and Vermont regional events in the past,” Pelletier said. “When I became an amateur again, it refreshed my brain and made (golf) fun again. I’m not fretting over the 5-footer I missed on 18 that cost me a grand or something like that. I’m just playing golf again.

“I knew I had the talent to win any tournament I play in,” added Pelletier, a former assistant professional at Lake Morey Country Club in Fairlee. “Yes, it’s stressful and I want to do well … but at the end of the day, I’m not as frustrated.”

Accepting the U.S. Mid-Am invitation will commit Pelletier to as much as a week away from his job and family. It’s the latter consideration that led him to regain his amateur status in the first place, and it’s also the reason why he tailored his schedule the way he has this year.

Like the U.S. Mid-Am, the New Hampshire Amateur plays out over most of a week — two days of stroke-play qualifying whittling the field down to 64 for four days of matches — and it’s a time commitment some amateur golfers can’t always make. Pelletier dropped it in favor of the three-day Vermont Am this summer, and he was near the top of the leaderboard the entire event.

But Colorado is too big to pass up, Pelletier admitted. It will cost at least a couple thousand dollars for him to go and up to double that if an old Lake Morey acquaintance, Pat Norden, agrees to come along as a caddy.

“Anytime you can play in a tournament where you could win and go to the Masters, that’s worth it right there, but it will be really tough to do,” Pelletier said. “What I tell people is my goal is to make match play. Once I hit match play, I feel my game can play any course against any opponent at the mid-am level. Once you get to match play, anything can happen.”

To stay competitively sharp, Pelletier said he’ll probably play the Maine Open on Aug. 20-21 since it’s only two days, has no cut and features a decent field of professional competition. Less than a month later, it’ll be off to Colorado for an opportunity of which he can only have dreamed when he chose to return to the amateur world.

“I was going to be around my kid more and not travel as much,” Pelletier said. “Ironic how that’s working out.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.

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