BANGOR, Maine — Jason Parajeckas of Woburn, Mass., and Devon Quigley of Rumford, R.I., are trying to make their own way as golf pros as they participate in this week’s 43rd Greater Bangor Open at Bangor Municipal Golf Course.
The 24-year-olds find themselves following in the footsteps of their fathers, New England club pros who were familiar names atop the leader boards of many of the region’s top tournaments, but they insist it wasn’t a career path that was pushed on them.
“There are home movies of me [as a youngster] where I’m swinging crosshanded,” said Parajeckas after Thursday’s opening round. “It didn’t matter. He never made me do this or do that.
“He never pressured me. He has a very positive outlook on everything.”
Paul Parajeckas was the longtime pro at Woburn Country Club and was a frequent winner around New England. He plays occasionally on the Champions Tour now.
“I used to like catching frogs instead of playing,” said Quigley. “And [his dad Dana] was fine with that. He was behind me all the way and never pressured me to play golf.”
Dana Quigley, a longtime club pro in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, won the 1984 Maine Open among his many New England tournament titles and also played in 100 PGA Tour events before joining the Champions Tour full time more than 10 years ago.
Parajeckas posted a 1-over-par 70 Wednesday, six strokes off the 64 of leader Marc Hurtibise of Chambly, Quebec, while Quigley shot a 71.
Dustin Cone of Bennington, Vt., and Jesse Larson of Mendon, Vt., are tied for second at 65, and defending champion Shawn Warren of Windham heads a group of five at 66. The other four are 1997 GBO champ John Hickson of Topsham, 1999 Maine Open winner Kyle Gallo of Kensington, Conn., Matt Adams of Arlington, Mass., and Kevin Busteed of Peckville, Pa.
Jesse Speirs of Bangor, who won the Maine Amateur earlier this month, is the low amateur at 71.
The pro field will be cut to the low 60 and ties after today’s second round for Saturday’s 18-hole final. That’s provided the weather cooperates and the wet grounds don’t receive all of today’s projected deluge of rain.
Parajeckas and Quigley are often reminded by fans and other tournament players of their fathers’ appearances.
“I was playing with John [Hickson] today, and he said my dad was his favorite guy to play with,” said Quigley. “I hear that all the time. Hopefully, I can get the same trait.”
Parajeckas said it was also important to create his own persona.
“I can only be myself,” he said.
“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t any pressure,” said Quigley.
He went through several growth stages, he said.
“I’m getting a lot more comfortable with myself. … You don’t know about the mental side until you go through it,” said Quigley.
Last year was Parajeckas’s first as a playing pro, and he said Paul was helpful in getting him prepared, telling him about when to send in his entries, for instance. It still took time for it to sink in.
“It took me a good year to realize you have to be ahead of your schedule,” said Parajeckas.
Quigley and Parajeckas agreed that they didn’t realize all the work that their fathers put in.
“When my dad was first on the Champions Tour, I didn’t realize all the preparation he had to go through,” said Quigley.
It was similar for Parajeckas’s father.
“He had to choose between really distinguishing himself or just trying to get by. He wanted to distinguish himself,” said Parajeckas.
Quigley would like to get his father’s accuracy off the tee.
“I’d like to drive it like he does. I could do some damage,” he said.
“When I caddied for him the last three or four years, I could see how straight he was. I saw important it was,” he added.
It was the strong work ethic that Parajeckas sees as the biggest lesson he picked up from his father.
“You can’t just snap your fingers and win tournaments. You’ve got to put the hours in,” he said.
“I want to make him appreciate who I’m going to be,” said Parajeckas. “He taught me never give up, always keep your head up.”