Travelers Championship week promises full line-up golf games, events

August 1, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

We have reached one of the best weeks of the year in Middlesex County, Travelers Championship Week. This year’s tournament is again packed with an outstanding Player Field which includes Keegan Bradley, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson and 2012 Champion, Marc Leishman, who will serve as guest speaker at Tuesday morning’s Travelers Championship Member Breakfast Meeting at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Marc, a native of Australia who was named Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour in 2009, won the 2012 Travelers Championship in a one stroke thriller. We look forward to welcoming Marc, currently ranked 47th in the Official World Golf Rankings, to Middlesex County for the event which begins with networking at 7 a.m., followed by a breakfast buffet at 7:30 a.m., and meeting program 8 -9a.m. This Member Breakfast Meeting is once again sponsored by Travelers Companies.

As I have repeatedly noted during the lead up to tournament week, the Travelers Championship is a major economic generator that fills our area hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. This major PGA event not only attracts most of the best golfers in the world, but it also attracts huge crowds to Cromwell and generates millions of dollars for charity. It is hard to believe, but this is now the tenth year that Travelers has served as title sponsor of the event. I would like to take a moment to once again thank Chief Executive Officer Alan Schnitzer, Executive Chairman of the Board Jay Fishman, Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer Andy Bessette, and the entire Travelers family for their strong and continued support. We also have to recognize the year-round effort put forth by Tournament Director Nathan Grube and his team. Nathan has provided a countdown to the tournament at every chamber Member Breakfast Meeting in the past year, a countdown that has led to today. I am honored to have been invited to once again participate in Monday’s Opening Ceremonies at the course, and I look forward to joining the huge crowds that will head out to the TPC throughout this exciting week. Discounted tickets for the Travelers Championship are still available at the chamber office and on the chamber website. All tickets available at the chamber are general admission “Grounds” tickets. Cost is $24 per ticket, a $21 savings on the gate price of $45 per ticket for “Grounds” admission. In addition to the Opening Ceremonies, I also look forward to attending a number of other events that are held in conjunction with the tournament including The First Tee of Connecticut Breakfast on Saturday morning. The First Tee of Connecticut believes that youth participation in golf related programs will improve the lives of those who embrace the game’s traditions and values, and I congratulate President & Executive Director David Polk and his entire team for their continued great work in our community. Finally, I want to acknowledge and honor the fact that the ALS Clinic at Hospital for Special Care will be the Primary Beneficiary of the 2016 Travelers Championship. I commend the tournament for taking a stand against this dreaded disease. Travelers Championship week is here, enjoy it Middlesex County!

Before getting into some of the other exciting happenings of the next few weeks, I want to mention that I enjoyed my visit to The Main Switch Beauty Salon on Washington Street last Wednesday afternoon for their Guest Appreciation and 20th Anniversary Celebration. Sonia Santavenere and her team at The Main Switch continues to do great work in our city, and I congratulate them on 20 years in business.

The chamber’s Central Business Bureau will meet this Thursday, Aug. 4 at 8 a.m. in the chamber conference room. Mayor Dan Drew and a number of City of Middletown Department Directors will give reports on the many issues of importance to the downtown business community. The Central Business Bureau continues to be an effective way in which we connect downtown businesses to key city officials and other community leaders. We look forward to another productive meeting and thank Eric Rodko and our friends at St. Luke’s Community Services for sponsoring the August meeting.

The 11th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania is scheduled for next Wednesday, Aug. 10 in downtown Middletown. This event, presented by Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines & the Hunter Family, is held in memory of a founding sponsor of the event, Dan M. Hunter, and is driven by Haymond Law. All bikes are welcome to come out for the largest one-day summer motorcycle event in New England which is sure to be a fantastic time for everyone involved. There are a variety of activities planned for the evening, including a bike show with awards, food and merchandise vendors, and entertainment. The event will feature an Awards & Vintage Bike Section, located in the Bank of America parking lot by the Showmobile, for show bikes and pre-1982 makes and models. There will also be a Middlesex YMCA “Kids Fun Area” in Riverview Center with face painting games and fun for people of all ages. In addition to Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines, the Hunter Family, and Haymond Law, event sponsors also include: City of Middletown, Middletown Downtown Business District, Liberty Bank, Bank of America, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Gengras Motorcycles, Home Team Supply, All American Productions, Middlesex Music Academy, Lyman Orchards Golf Club, Mezzo Grille, Middletown Area Transit, First & Last Tavern, Untouchable Towing, and WMRD/WLIS Radio. This event benefits Middletown youth programs, and past proceeds have supported the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program, Middletown Recreation and Community Services Department youth programs, and the Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program. There is a suggested donation of $5 per motorcycle, and $10 for bikes entered for awards. I will have more on the 11th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania in next week’s column, but we certainly look forward to seeing everyone next Wednesday evening for what is sure to be another terrific downtown event.

Our August Business After Work Networking Reception for members and their guests is scheduled for Tuesday, August 16 at Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook. This annual event on the shoreline has become very popular with our membership over the years. The Water’s Edge team puts out a delicious spread of food which always includes a little extra shoreline flavor, and the views of the beach and water are remarkable. Water’s Edge Resort and Spa is a strong supporter of our chamber and a true gem on the Middlesex County shoreline. We look forward to another successful networking reception at their outstanding facility on Aug. 16.

I mentioned earlier that the chamber has tickets to the Travelers Championship available at our office and on our website. I encourage our members to take advantage of these discounted tickets to this major PGA tour event held right in our back yard. We also have exciting ticket promotions for the University of Connecticut football team including an exclusive, buy one get one free offer for the opening game vs. the University of Maine. There is also an exclusive discount available on 2016 Season Tickets available to chamber members. The Huskies have a strong home schedule this year that includes games against Virginia, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Central Florida, Temple, and Tulane. Chamber members who are interested should visit, and click on the featured events tab to access information on the ticket promotions.

Chamber members should keep an eye out for the official nomination request for the 2016 William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award. This prestigious award is presented annually to a Veteran of the United States Armed Forces in recognition of his or her distinguished service to the citizens of Connecticut, and selfless commitment to public service. The recipient of this award is decided by a committee of its previous winners, and this year’s winner will be honored at the chamber’s Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting which is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 7 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell with guest speaker Captain Paul Whitescarver, Commanding Officer, Naval Submarine Base New London. For more information, please visit

I want to close this week’s column by providing an update on the 2016 Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program which amazingly begins its fourth week today. We are proud that this program is once again putting over 80 youth employees to work this summer in constructive employment environments at over 45 host worksites throughout the city. We are very grateful to our 2016 funding partners: Workforce Alliance, under the leadership of President & CEO Bill Villano, the City of Middletown, under the leadership of Mayor Dan Drew and the Common Council, Peach Pit Foundation, under the leadership of Sharon Griffin, Community Foundation of Middlesex County, under the leadership of President & CEO Cynthia Clegg,  Liberty Bank Foundation, under the leadership of Executive Director Sue Murphy, Jarvis Products Corporation, under the leadership of company President Vin Volpe, MiddleOak, under the leadership of CEO Gary Vallo, AT&T Connecticut, under the leadership of State President John Emra, Pegasus Manufacturing, under the leadership of company President Chris DiPentima, Greenwald Industries, under the leadership of Managing Director Len Samela, Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski, under the leadership of Mike DiPiro and a wonderful team of partners, Middlesex United Way, under the leadership of President & CEO Kevin Wilhelm, and Season’s Federal Credit Union, under the leadership of President & CEO Keith Wiemert. Chamber Workforce Development Director Lorenzo Marshall continues to do a terrific job leading this program which is truly developing the workforce of tomorrow. I will continue to provide updates as the program navigates its final three weeks, but much like the chamber, the Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program is on the move.

For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit