Service Award Winner


ROCKY HILL, Conn. – The Connecticut Section PGA announced that Copper Hill Golf Club in East Granby, Conn., has been named the 2012 recipient of the Walter Lowell Public Golf Course Distinguished Service Award, as the model public golf course serving the game of golf in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. The award was inaugurated in 2001 in honor of Canton Public Golf Course for the standards it set towards a public course's responsibility to its community to provide playing opportunities for all those who want to play and learn the game.

Copper Hill Golf Club features a 9-hole, 3,039 yard, par 36 golf course, driving range, Golf Academy, restaurant and pro shop, all open to the public. Head PGA Professional, Paul Banks, who has more than two decades of teaching experience, founded the Golf Academy in 1994, and purchased the golf course in 2010 . Copper Hill has something for all and is a comfortable place to learn the game. The selection of Copper Hill as the model public golf facility was made by the PGA Special Awards Committee. All public golf courses are nominated and welcomed to submit applications to be considered.

Since 2009, Copper Hill hosted three highly successful 9-hole Night Golf events per season, attracting full fields of 60 players per event. Copper Hill invests in these tournaments with over 250 glow lights decorating the golf course, with different colors for tees, fairways, greens, bunkers and hazards.

Copper Hill was also host to the first ever Connecticut Section PGA Junior Golf TOUR 9-Hole 12-and-Under Championship in 2011. The success of that event caused the Junior Golf TOUR to expand their schedule in this age range to three events throughout Connecticut, including Copper Hill, in 2012.

"With Copper Hill's help, we were able to invite new players that had not participated in the Junior Golf TOUR the past and introduce them to competitive golf," says Player Development Director of the Connecticut PGA, Sally Sohn. "The local community really got behind this event for both players and volunteers to make it a special day for East Granby."

Copper Hill has been participating in 'get onto the golf course' lesson programs since 2000. The program was initially called 'Get On Course', evolved to 'Link Up 2 Golf', and is now part of The PGA of America's Get Golf Ready initiative. Copper Hill runs three 5-week programs per year, with a maximum of 16 players, and is a combination of instruction at Copper Hill Golf Academy and a golf experience of 2 to 5 holes each night. This program spawned their Beginner Golf League, started in 2004, which is an opportunity for new players to 'own the course' on Monday evenings after 6 pm and test their skills with other players of similar experience.

In an effort to make competitive golf more accessible for younger players with family demands and time constraints, and to reach both genders and all ages, Copper Hill has renamed their "Sunday Men's Club" to "The Player's Club", and has reworked many of the tournaments so that rounds can be played at times other than Sunday morning and encourage casual participation by daily fee players.

Copper Hill has also made modifications to their golf course to make it more comfortable for all skill levels. For the better players, they have lengthened five golf holes to increase the total yardage of the course to over 3000 yards (previously 2750), and added fairway bunkers in landing areas that impact only the longer hitters. On the shorter end, Copper Hill added senior tees to the course and scorecard in 2009, built a new tee which is used for ladies and seniors, and have installed 'orange tee's in 2012. Orange tees shorten the holes to between 45 yards (for par 3s) to 165 yards (for par 5s). There are separate scorecards for the orange tees, and they are designed to be used by young juniors, beginners, or short hitters. This initiative is a result of the Tee It Forward initiative by The PGA of America.

As the home course for three high school golf teams, Windsor Locks boys, East Granby boys, and Suffield girls, Copper Hill two golf professionals make themselves available for instruction without charge at the discretion of the coaches of the teams. They offer group lessons for the following area community organizations – East Granby Parks and Recreation Department, Granby Leisure Services, Windsor Senior Center, Suffield Parks & Recreation Dept., Windsor Adult Education, and Windsor Locks Adult Education.

Copper Hill runs a very robust junior golf program as well. These programs are well planning, and have been improved and modified since inception in 1994 and has introduced over 200 new juniors to the game each year. Copper Hill breaks up their junior program into three different levels: Entry Level (ages 5-8), Sport Level (ages 7-10), Champion/Player Level (ages 9-16), which vary in complexity and length as junior golfers develop.

"We believe that our facility is perfect location for growing junior golf," says Head PGA Professional, Paul Banks. "The golf academy is a dedicated facility, separate from the golf course, complete with practice bunker, chipping and putting green. Players 'grow up' with our programs and many become core golfers at either our course or area courses."

Copper Hill is also proud to be a host facility for the First Tee of Connecticut since 2004. They use the nine life skills basic to the First Tee not only in their junior golf programs, but also in the training of their staff. Honesty, Integrity, Sportsmanship, Respect, Courtesy, Judgment, Confidence, Responsibility, and Perseverance are characteristics that they communicate to our patrons by example.

The Rules of Golf and proper etiquette is core to Copper Hill's mission and staff. While Copper Hill is advertised as a place where people can relax and 'let their hair down', they hold the line on certain rules including proper golf attire and pace of play etiquette. While many of our rules may seem obvious to most golf courses, enforcing them, as a first exposure public golf course, can be challenging and, often times, this is first time players are exposed to these rules.

"The staff and management at Copper Hill are thrilled to be recognized by the Connecticut Section PGA for such a prestigious award," says Banks. "It is an honor and serves to further motivate us to promote the game at the grass roots level. For use golf is a game for all and we are happy to contribute in whatever way we can."

Banks and representatives from the Town of East Granby will be honored on Tuesday, May 29, at Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, Mass., during the annual Walter Lowell PGA Tournament. PGA Professionals from the Connecticut and Western Massachusetts will participate in the golf tournament and attend the awards ceremony that follows.

Former recipients of this award are Canton Public Golf Course, East Mountain Country Club, Lyman Orchards Golf Course, Raceway Golf Course, Shennecossett Golf Course, Skungamaug River Golf Course, Stanley Golf Course, Tallwood Country Club, Timberlin Golf Course, Tunxis Plantation Country Club, and Alling Memorial Golf Course.

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