Championship numbers grow

More golfers swinging for Hop Brook title

NAUGATUCK — The Hop Brook Golf Course Club Championship is on the rise.

In the last two years, the event has increased from 58 to 80 players. This year, the championship also introduced a ladies division for the first time.

“The ladies club championship has been a long time coming,” Hop Brook head pro Bob Clark said.

The ladies final is set. Anne Thomas defeated Linda Low, while Stephanie Slekis topped Nancy Clark in the semifinals. The women’s 18-hole championship will be played August 16 at 1 p.m.

“I just believe this is going, in the future, to develop hopefully into something so big we may be able to host some state ladies one-day golf tournaments,” Clark added. “The sky is the limit here.”

While the women’s championship match is all set, the men are still sorting things out.
The overall increase in championship numbers is likely due to the hard work that Clark and his coworkers have done to market the game.

“We are constantly developing programs to have the community check out what we at Hop Brook are all about,” said Clark, who has been in his position for the last two years.

Programs such as Play Golf America, Tee It Forward and the re-creation of a junior league, which includes a travel interclub team, have kept momentum up.

“In order for us to keep competitive with other courses, we have to think outside the box, and we are developing more programs yearly, including a lesson partnership with the YMCA,” Clark added.

The results show that interest is growing. According to Clark, Hop Brook is the only golf course in the Waterbury and Naugatuck Valley area that has consistently had an increase in numbers across the board this year.

In addition, it’s only one of four courses in the state able to show this uptick, he said. The other three courses are along the shore.

Another plus is the condition of the course.

“Joe Malay and his staff have the golf course in the best shape ever,” Clark said. “The greens are as fast and true as I have seen them. Our fairways, considering the amount of play we get, are phenomenal. I will put this course up against any course in the area.”

And the championships are just one way the course is promoted.

“I am 100 percent committed to making this course a part of the Naugatuck community for years and years,” Clark said. “Our numbers are up, memberships are up. I ask all of Naugatuck to come see the excitement of what we are doing here, and how, along with all golfers no matter their age, we want to be a part of this great community for years and years to come.”