WAUKESHA – A native of Waukesha has hosted a homemade annual golf tournament for over 30 years. Now his son wants to continue the tradition with the aim of staying in touch with lifelong friends of the course.
The Con-nelly Open was started by Ted Connelly, who had a fun and original idea of keeping in touch with his friends at Waukesha High School. Connelly was part of a group of 1950 graduates. Many remained friends over the years despite moving and settling in different states of the United States.
The first meeting was in Peoria, Illinois, where Connelly lives. In 1985 he won the first competition. Over the years the group has grown with sometimes up to 10 participants.
Sometimes it is logistically difficult to meet because all men have families and responsibilities, he said. They had competitions from 1985 to 2015, sometimes more than one competition a year. They played courses across the United States and about eight competitions in Wisconsin, some near Waukesha. The group played as far as Washington state and other states like Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, Ohio and more.
Over the years, he said, the competition has helped the Circle of Friends keep in touch.
Often times, the men brought their wives with them to go sightseeing or shopping while the men played golf. The winners would be presented with a trophy during an official dinner, Connelly said.
Connelly’s sister, Jean Long, told The Freeman that she had always found the group extremely unique.
“This will continue and I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I think it’s amazing that high school classmates stuck together and played golf in all these different states.”
Connelly’s son, also known as Ted Connelly, said he plans to continue the tradition with the same name – “The Con-nelly Open”.
“My dad and his friends from Waukesha … always had a kind of reunion, they met, played golf and had a great weekend,” he said. “It evolved into this trophy presentation. Each year he had more names written on the board, and as the years passed, more and more names were written on it. Many of them (have passed away) or no longer play golf. Now I’ve got to the point where he started and I said, ‘Well, I should be hosting the Con-nelly Open – same name, same family, and I have similar friends.’ “Connelly’s son lives in Michigan and has many Friends plans to start the tournament with those who live in Illinois. He hopes to host the first tournament this spring.
“I love my father and I am very proud and honored to continue the tradition,” he said.