Eighty father and son teams from eight different countries teed off in August at Waterville Golf Links in Ireland. The second youngest of the competitors at the 22nd World Invitational Father & Son Golf Tournament was San Franciscan Daniel Connolly.
Representing the Olympic Club, the 14-year-old St. Gabriel School eighth-grader and his dad, Martin Connolly, were, for the duration of this three-day tournament, greater than the “Great One.”
In this event, which included among its entrants Wayne Gretzky, ice hockey’s Great One, and his son Ty, the Connollys were the champions, leading the tournament wire-to-wire.
“Winning the thing was beyond what we expected,” said Martin, who returned to his native Ireland for the competition. “There is no greater fun than doing stuff like this with your kid.”
Behind the freckles and braces, the soft spoken 5-foot-1, 95-pound Daniel is a powerful golfer who has played the game for 10 years and drives the ball off the tee 230 to 240 yards.
In San Francisco’s 18-and-under juniors championship this past summer, Daniel won the first two rounds and finished in fourth place in a field of more than 100 golfers.
After the Waterville father/son tournament, Daniel entered Ireland’s under-15 championship, where he finished fifth of 120 participants.
Not bad for a kid unaccustomed to playing in a climate where, as Martin states, “a golfer may experience all four seasons in one day.”
Daniel, who plays on the St. Gabriel basketball and soccer teams, dad Martin and mom Mary haven’t decided on a high school, but a good golf team will play a close second to academics in the selection process. Daniel has his eyes on a future at Stanford and its renowned golf training facilities. A spot on the PGA Tour is the ultimate goal.
In January, Daniel will compete in his first San Francisco City Championship with Dad as caddy.
“I don’t want to drag him down any more. It may severely harm our friendship,” joked Martin, who works between 60 to 80 hours a week as proprietor of Johnny Foley’s Irish Pub & Restaurant off Union Square, yet somehow finds the time to maintain a 6-handicap.
“My handicap is my dad,” said Daniel, exhibiting that he inherited his pop’s sense of humor as well as his short game.
His last stop before beginning high school will be next summer in Ireland, where Daniel and his dad will seek to defend their Father and Son title.
“You can be [at] the top of the heap one day, but you can never rest on your laurels,” said the patriarch of the championship family.
NEXT YEAR: 23rd World Invitational Father & Son Golf Tournament, Aug. 8-10, 2012
EVENT: Three-day tournament; days 1 and 3 are best ball, day 2 is alternate shot
HANDICAPS: Daniel 5, Martin 6