Following a string of close calls that included semifinal showings in the 1989 U.S. Amateur and 1993 U.S. Mid-Amateur, and reaching the quarterfinals of the 1992 U.S. Mid-Amateur, Jerry Courville Jr., of Norwalk, Conn., finally claimed a USGA title when he defeated Warren Sye, 1 up, in the 1995 U.S. Mid-Amateur championship match at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. Courville, who also was the runner-up in 1999 and 2002, has since turned professional and this week at Wellesley Country Club, he is caddieing for fellow Connecticut resident Jo Rasmussen.
Last year, the USGA caught up with Courville and he recounted his Mid-Amateur victory along with looking back at his two Walker Cup appearances (1995 and 1997) and experience in the 1996 Masters. The 57-year-old currently instructs juniors at an indoor golf facility he owns in Southport, Conn.
Why did you thrive so much at the U.S. Mid-Amateur?
Courville: I was more comfortable and knew more of the players. I knew going in if I played well that I had a chance. I made the semifinals of the 1989 Amateur and made the quarterfinals a few times, but realistically, I couldn’t compete against those players. They were much younger, much stronger and much better.
What made 1995 such a special year?
Courville: It was special because of my father (Jerry Sr.). He had cancer and we knew he didn’t have too much longer to live. For me, it was kind of like proving myself to him. He never put pressure on me to play. Around here (Metropolitan Golf Association), he won everything there is to win. He’s one of the best amateurs to ever come out of Connecticut. When I was in college, I had a megacolon (abnormal dilation of the colon), so I didn’t really play [competitive golf] for like seven years. I got sick during my freshman year in college. I went from 180 pounds to 130 pounds. So deep down, I knew my father wasn’t long for living. I had made the Walker Cup and there was a lot of, “How did he make it?” But honestly, I wasn’t thinking about making the Walker Cup Team. I didn’t consider myself to be one of the top amateurs in the country.
Was your father present at Caves Valley?
Courville: He wasn’t there the first days because he was sick. It’s about a five-hour drive [from Connecticut] for the finals. I remember him trying to hide from me. He didn’t want me to see he was there. I saw him on probably the seventh or eighth hole and I was like 2 down. I said to myself, “If he can make that journey this far to come see me play, I better play better.” That was actually the worst round I played all week. But a lot of that was fatigue. I had just gotten back from the Walker Cup, and Caves Valley is not the easiest course to walk.
What was the embrace with your father like after winning?
Courville: A special moment. One of the things you will never forget in your whole life. Even to this day, I have a picture up there in my living room of myself and my father with the trophy.