NHGA State Amateur: Family legacy at this address

Tommy Ethier, 16, of Nashua Country Club will tee it up this week in the State Am at Mount Washington. Ethier is the grandson of Dick Dion, who won the 1962 tourney on the Bretton Woods course, the last time the event was held there.

It's been 53 years since the NHGA State Amateur was last played at Mount Washington.

In 1962, Dick Dion won on the Bretton Woods course and was crowned champion for the third time in four years.

On Monday, Dion's grandson, Tommy Ethier, 16, will compete for the State Am title on the same course.

"I actually played golf with him for the first time this spring," Ethier said of his grandfather. "I went down to Florida to visit. When I was growing up he didn't really play golf anymore and he's just starting to get back into it. So I played with him for the first time in March I think it was.

"He still knows how to play the game. He for sure can help me out.

"I've heard a lot of stuff about him. A lot of different stories. It's definitely an inspiration to try and win a State Am."

Dion also won the State Am in 1959 and 1960 and turned pro after 1962. He says that as a pro he was "nothing spectacular" and just tried to earn a living. He eventually went into sales and then bought a catering business.

"I'm very excited," Dion said of his grandson competing in his second State Am. "He's a very good player. He's just growing into the game. But he's capable of doing anything. The one thing about golf, you have to play good on certain weeks. And he's capable of playing good enough."

Ethier, who is from Nashua and Nashua Country Club, has always been surrounded by golf in his family.

"My mom (Laurie, Dion's daughter) was more into golf growing up than my dad was. She played in college," he said. "My dad (Dan), he always played a little bit and after he met my mom he played more. Everybody knows what they're talking about. They're very supportive, so they're always there to give me hand."

Ethier's cousin, Austin Baker, also plays golf. The 18-year-old from Litchfield focused on playing baseball for Division III champion Campbell this past spring, but is headed to SNHU to play golf next year.

Ethier lost in the first round of match play in last year's State Am at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown.

"Last year I was just trying to make match play, but this year going in I definitely want to make match play and I want to make a run in match play and win some matches and see what happens," he said. "I'm waiting for my breakout round where I really put all the pieces together and play lights out. I think I'm really close. I think all the parts of my game are starting to come together. So I'm feeling pretty good going into next week."

When Dion won his first State Am in 1959, he was 18 years old and at the time the youngest champ ever. A record of the ages of all winners since then is unavailable, but it is believed that Dion's record still stands.

"I told (Laurie), I said, 'wouldn't it be great if (Tommy) won?,'" Dion said. "Because I am really surprised that I still have that record. I've had it for 50-something years now. So I said, if Tommy can win, he'd be winning it at 16 and I won it at 18. So 16 would be more difficult to beat. So if he had it as long as me, between the two of us, we'd have it for over a century."