Jim Cilley, shown in 2017, captured the 2021 NHGA Stroke Play championship earlier this month at Keene Country Club.

SOME KNOW Jim Cilley as the varsity boys basketball coach at Belmont High School, but he’s also known as one of New Hampshire’s best amateur golfers.

Cilley, a 40-year-old Belmont resident, won the NHGA Stroke Play Championship at Keene Country Club earlier this month. The victory was his fifth NHGA title. He also won the 2011 NHGA Amateur Championship, the 2008 Mid-Amateur Championship, the 2020 State Four Ball (with Mike Mahan) and the 2020 Mid-Amateur Team Championship (again with Mahan).

In an attempt to get to know Cilley and his golf game better, the Union Leader asked him to answer the following 10 questions:

Q: What’s your favorite golf course in New Hampshire?

A: Baker Hill and Golf Club of New England (tie).

Q: How old were you when you began playing golf?

A: 5 years old.

Q: What’s your best score in a competitive round?

A: A 65 at Green Meadow (Jungle Course).

Q: What’s the most memorable shot of your career?

A: My semifinal match against Ryan Kohler in the 2011 State Am was all square when my third shot from the trees left of the 16th hole at Nashua CC (now the second hole) lipped out to 3 feet. A close second is the winning 7-foot putt to beat Nick MacDonald on the 36th green during the final match of that tournament.

Q: In your opinion, what’s the strength of your game?

A: I manage my misses and minimize mistakes.

Q: What part of your game needs the most improvement?

A: Consistent ball striking and wedge play.

Q: What’s in your golf bag? (clubs, ball, shoes, glove)

A: Too much! Lots of used practice balls, 14 clubs (plus a few more when I’m practicing) gloves, balls, tees and a half dollar that was my gram’s who passed away last June for luck.

Q: What club are you most comfortable hitting?

A: My putter.

Q: What’s one tip/swing thought you would recommend to amateur golfers?

A: Try to hit the ball solid. Get into a good balanced posture and have good ball position and you can keep it on the planet. It’s easier to score that way.

Q: Other than golf, name something you’re good at?

A: Hopefully, being a dad. I think I’m pretty good at being a real estate broker and I love being a varsity basketball coach at Belmont High School.


Rules Question: In a match play event, Player A is two minutes late to the first tee and Player B is four minutes late to the first tee. What is the correct ruling? (Continue reading for the answer.)


Nashua’s Bryce Zimmerman was the top New Hampshire finisher among the boys at the New England Golf Association’s Junior Amateur Championship, which was held Monday and Tuesday at Val Halla Golf Club in Cumberland, Maine.

Zimmerman placed 12th with a 12-over-par 225 (70-74-81). Atkinson’s Mat Gover tied for 16th with a 228.

Two New Hampshire residents earned top-five finishes on the girls side. Hampton Falls’ June Doerr was fourth with a 237 (75-78-84), and Dover’s Carys Fennessy tied for fifth with a 238 (81-79-78).

Ben James, who lives in Milford, Conn., shot a 199 and finished first in the boys division for the third straight year. Annie Dai and MacKenzie Whitney, both of Massachusetts, shared the girls division championship. Each finished at 7 over par (230).

The team results:

Boys Division: 1. Massachusetts, 2. Connecticut, 3. Rhode Island, 4. Maine, 5. Vermont, 6. New Hampshire.

Girls Division: 1. Massachusetts, 2. Rhode Island, 3. New Hampshire, 4. Maine, 5. Connecticut, 6. Vermont.

Each state brings seven boys and three girls to the NEGA’s junior championship. The boys count their five best scores. All three girls’ scores are counted toward their team total.


Results from the Valley Seniors Golf Association event held at the Country Club of New Hampshire:

Top 10 Gross: Jeff Garland, Keene (79); David Howell, Walpole (80); Steve Tullar, Manchester (80); Steve Liakos, Bow (81); Ralph Cody, Antrim (82); Jim Putman, New London (84); Dave Johnson, Walpole (85); Jim Cook, Jaffrey (86); Bob Carlson, Nottingham (86); Bob DeMary, Penacook (86).

Age 55-74 Gross: Garland (79) Tullar (80); Cody (82).

Age 55-74 Net: Cook (68), Liakos (70), Paul Keenan, Manchester (71).

Age 75-85 Gross: David Howell, Walpole (77); Johnson (82); Jack Martin, Henniker (88).

Age 75-85 Net: Bob Carlson, Nottingham (67); Mike Onners, Townsend, Mass. (70); Dan Zapton, Hopkinton (71).

Closest to the Pin: Tullis.

Score adjusted by 3 strokes because of different tees.


Harvin Groft, a member at The Oaks Golf Links in Somersworth, qualified for this year’s USGA Mid-Amateur by shooting a 68 Wednesday during a qualifying tournament held at Albany Country Club in Voorheesville, N.Y.

Groft made seven birdies and was the tournament medalist. The field featured 83 golfers competing for two spots in the USGA Mid-Amateur, which will be played Sept. 25-30 at Sankaty Head Golf Club and Miacomet Golf Course, both on Nantucket Island, Mass.

Answer to rules question: The match should begin on the second hole with the score tied.

Source: USGA Rules of Golf (Interpretation 5.3a/5)


Aug. 31: Stephanie Thomas Memorial Cup (Windham Country Club)

Sept. 14-15: New England Senior Amateur (Manchester Country Club/Manchester, Vt.)

Sept. 28: NHWGA Fall Classic (Nashua Country Club)