Pleats excited to pair up for NHGA action

Phil Pleat is getting up there in age. Sixty is just around the corner, and the New Hampshire amateur golfing legend is feeling it more with each passing summer.

Pleat has been battling back issues for a few years now. He’s finding ways to manage the pain that allow him to get through the everyday grind at work while also adding to his legacy on the links.

“I’m definitely at the point where I’m not able to get out and practice as much or play as many rounds for fun or competitively,” Pleat said. “That’s basically how I handle things, I’m selective on what events I compete in and how often I will play a full round or just go to a range.

“This summer I’ll do a few senior events, the Mid-Am, probably the Stroke Play and a few others. It’s fun to compete, and that’s always the goal when you enter a tournament. You want to win.”

Such was the case last summer, when Pleat reached the Round of 32 – losing to eventual champion Joe Leavitt in 19 holes – at the 111th State Am at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown, tied for eighth in the Stroke Play Championship at Hudson’s Green Meadow Golf Club and won his fourth straight Senior Am Championship at Kingswood Golf Club in Wolfeboro.

Competing in the New Hampshire Golf Association’s 112th State Am at Mount Washington Resort Golf Club in Bretton Woods is still up in the air for Pleat.

“It is way up there,” he said, “but at the same time it’s such a nice place and they’ve just redone the course. That might be a last-minute decision for me. It will all depend on work and my back. I’d love to play in every event, every year, but that’s not possible. There’s still a chance I’ll enter, but it’ll be a last-minute thing if I do.”

Despite dealing with constant back pain, 2014 was a solid summer of amateur golf for Pleat, whose fourth straight Senior Am crown was also his record 18th NHGA championship – consisting of eight Mid-Ams (1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2011, 2012), three State Ams (1981, 1985, 1997), three Stroke Play (2002, 2003, 2005) and the four Seniors (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014).

His quest for a 19th NHGA title began May 16 during the Senior Four-Ball event at The Overlook Golf Club in Hollis where he came up one stroke short, along with partner Jay Leonard, with a 2-under 69. The Nashua Country Club duo finished tied for third, behind Derryfield Country Club of Manchester’s winning tandem of Dan Arvanitis and John Lewandowski (3-under, 68), and runners-up Mo Dichard and Glenn Surette (3-under, 68) of Cochecho Country Club in Dover.

Giving his back a rest, he skipped the Spring Four-Ball at Kingswood Golf Club on May 17 and the Player’s Invitational on May 30 at Baker Hill Golf Club in Newbury.

After a couple weeks off, Pleat returned to competition over the weekend – Saturday at Canterbury Woods Country Club and Sunday at Owl’s Nest Resort and Golf Club in Thornton – with his son, James, by his side. The father-son duo teamed up in the Gross Division for a shot at the NHGA’s Four-Ball Championship.

“For me, it’s always fun to get out there and see all my old friends and the newer faces,” Phil Pleat said, “but I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Anytime you get a chance to play a round of golf with your son is special. Whether you’re just out there for a fun round, competing against him in a tournament or teaming up with him at an event it is something special. It’ll be a good time.”

James was just as excited to kick off the summer season with his dad by his side.

“We’ve played a few father and son events, but this is different I think,” James Pleat said. “This will be our first New Hampshire four ball together. We always help each other during tournaments, even in events we’re competing against each other. It’s what we’ve always done. So I’m excited to be able to play alongside him and we can help each other every shot for the same goal. This is going to be a lot of fun.”

James Pleat is still a Nashua Country Club member despite moving to Brighton, Mass., in September to cut down on his daily commute to the Boston office of Brown Brothers Harriman and Co., the oldest and largest private bank in the United States.

“Things are going well so far,” said James, who has been getting in time with the clubs at Lexington’s Stone Meadow Golf’s driving range. “For the first eight months in the job I was commuting from Nashua. I’d go into Billerica and ride the commuter rail into Boston. It’s a lot easier commute since I moved to Brighton in September.

“It’s also a lot to get used to just living in the city. I don’t think I am a city person. There are aspects that I enjoy about being in the city, but I definitely appreciate New Hampshire much more than I did when I was living up there.”

Heading into Saturday, it was the newly-minted city slicker that held the fate of Team Pleat in his hands. Well, at least as far as the elder Pleat saw it.

“We’ll do as well as James does,” Phil said. “I just have to make sure I can help him here and there, because I haven’t been playing well at all this spring. That’s what I’m trying to hopefully do this weekend – be there, here and there, when he needs help.”

Ultimately, the Pleat duo finished strong (68 Canterbury Woods, 67 Owls Nest – 135), earning a tie for the runner-up spot with Stonebridge Country Club’s Michael Martel and Rochester Country Club’s Jamie Ferullo (70 Canterbury Woods, 65 Owls Nest – 135).

They finished second by one stroke, behind the Bretwood Golf Club pairing of Tim Manwaring and Chelso Barrett (66 Canterbury Woods, 68 Owls Nest – 134).

Arvanitis tabbed for ’15 Champions Dinner honor

Daniel Arvanitis is well-known in Granite State golfing circles.

Like Nashua’s Phil Pleat, the almost 40-year resume of Manchester’s Arvanitis speaks for itself. He won the 2001 State Am, the 1986, ’87, ’99 and 2005 Mid-Ams, the New Hampshire Player of the Year Award in 1999, 2002 and 2003, and the New Hampshire Senior Player of Year in 2008 and 2013. He also competed in 12 national United States Golf Association events, including representing New Hampshire at six USGA Men’s State Team Championships along with competing in three USGA Mid-Ams, two USGA Public Links Championships and one USGA Senior Am Championship.

So it was no surprise to anyone other than Arvanitis that the NHGA selected him as its 2015 Champions Dinner Honoree.

“No I didn’t see it coming,” he said. “(NHGA Executive Director) Matt (Schmidt) and (NHGA Board President) Joe (Kane) wanted to meet me. I thought they were going to offer me a job.

“To have my name up there with the likes of Rich Parker, Kirk Hannefeld, Craig Steckowych, Phil Pleat, Bobby Mielcarz and Jimmy Sheerin – guys I grew up with, competed against and respected immensely – is quite an honor for me.”

Arvanitis will be feted at the NHGA Annual Meeting and Champions Dinner on Oct. 15 at Manchester Country Club in Bedford.

“The NHGA is beyond thrilled to honor Danny Arvanitis at the 2015 Champions Dinner,” Schmidt said. “Danny has been an ambassador for the game of golf and the NHGA throughout his illustrious career and there are few that are more deserving of this recognition.

“While Danny is known for being a fierce competitor, what makes him truly special is the kindness and friendship that he shows to everyone he comes into contact with. The NHGA and the game of golf are lucky to have him.” Arvanitis, who plays out of Derryfield Country Club, was surprised by the honor.”

The Local Golf Journal is a regular feature in The Telegraph. To discuss a potential journal topic or to report charity tournaments and aces, contact George Scione at 594-6520, or @Telegraph_BigG.