Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's too darn hot...

It's hard to imagine how hot it was over the summer at some of our events. Now that it is freezing, we have put away our summer clothes, and the sun sets at about 4 in the afternoon these days, lets reminisce on the top 5 hottest days of the 2013 MGA Championship Season (of course, this is all in jest, we love what we do, even when the weather makes it challenging!):

5. Monday, June 24 - Member day at Meadow Brook Golf Club & Junior Amateur qualifying at Agawam Municipal Golf Course
Boy, was it hot out that day. Lots of going inside to the clubhouse where the very nice bartender kept refilling pitchers of ice water. And later, sitting under the scoring tent near the 18th green getting attacked by bugs - I guess the bugs were cranky about the heat too. Meanwhile, across the state at Meadow Brook, Kevin was sitting on a porch sweating to death.

4. Wednesday, September 11 - Day 2 of the Senior Amateur Championship
After a stretch of really nice, seasonable weather, Mother Nature threw us a curveball, with temperatures soaring to 97 degrees at Haverhill Country Club. We made the agonizing decision to move the scoring area indoors...yeah that was a tough decision.

This guy's got the right idea...

3. Monday, June 17 - US Pub Links qualifying at Maplegate Country Club & Mass Amateur qualifying at Plymouth Country Club
Not only hot, but humid and rainy as well! The trifecta! I often judge the weather by the way my hair is behaving, and it was quite the sight that day. Kevin was at Plymouth Country Club, and his only memory of the day was "Well, I remember chugging a lot of water that day." #hydrate

2. Monday, July 15 - US Amateur qualifying at Weston Golf Club & New England Amateur at Green Mountain National Golf Course
Oh man. This day haunts my dreams sometimes. SO HOT. So sweaty. No breeze. Meanwhile, up on a mountain in was hot too.

drum roll please...

1. Sunday, July 7 - Mass Amateur course setup at Longmeadow Country Club
Well, Jesse, Kevin and I had completely sweat through our clothes by the time we got to the 2nd hole. I don't even know what to say about this day... We did have some delicious burgers at Max Burger in Longmeadow later that evening (thanks to Tim Quirk, club pro at Longmeadow CC!), so I guess it wasn't such a terrible day.

Of course, it goes without saying that the grounds crew at these courses (and all our member courses, for that matter) kicked butt this past summer. Working in some really difficult conditions, they helped us continually run successful championships, qualifiers, and member days. And I can't forget to thank our officials - who volunteer their time - for helping us make these events possible. They are out on the course no matter what the weather is doing, making sure everything is running smoothly.

Monday, December 16, 2013

There is no coffee-fetching in this internship...there is, however, a lot of coffee drinking.

Ahh, the off season...not quite.
If you can believe it, December is actually a bit of a crazy time of year here at the MGA. We are already busy prepping for next season. Event registration goes live in February, and before that we have meetings, our Salute to Champions Dinner, and busy days making sure the system is up and ready to go. A golf association never rests, even though we are looking out our windows at snow blanketing the 9th fairway at TPC Boston.

Another very important task that we undertake during the 'off' season is hiring a new PJ Boatwright Intern. This internship runs for 6-months (usually from April to September) and the intern serves as a major support staff during our absolutely crazy championship season. This internship, which is paid and benefits-eligible through a grant by the USGA, gives an aspiring golf administrator or sports professional exposure to the inner workings of a state or regional golf association at the entry-level.

PJ Boatwright on the job at a USGA Championship
Here at the MGA we have done a really good job turning Boatwrights into golf industry professionals! Our most notable example is Jesse Menachem, who was a Boatwright intern for three years and is now our executive director. Kevin Eldridge served two internship terms and was just named our newest director of rules and competitions. Danielle Pourbaix was a Boatwright and now works for the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund. And I am a former Boatwright turned MGA staff member myself!

I'm not going to beat around the bush - there is some serious hard work and long hours involved. But it was legitimately the most interesting and rewarding job I have ever done. It showed me that I want to develop my career in the golf industry and was an important first step in that journey (as is the case for Jesse, Kevin, and Danielle too). And every single person you work with - from MGA staff to our amazing and dedicated volunteer officials - are hardworking, supportive, and great to work with. The Boatwright intern gets to travel to USGA headquarters in May for a 3-day orientation, which includes meeting the other Boatwright interns from every state golf association, touring the USGA museum (so cool!) and equipment testing facility (even cooler!), and attending seminars that will help prepare the intern for what lies ahead. All in all, it's a pretty great gig for someone who has aspirations of working in golf or sports in general.

If you know anyone who might be interested in this position, tell them to send their resume to Kevin Eldridge. We are accepting applications through Friday, January 3. Here is the official job posting.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celebrities in our midst!

The other day while watching that wild finish of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, we noticed a couple of familiar faces in a Titleist commercial. Charles River Country Club's Jim O'Mara, and Old Sandwich Golf Club's Jay Wick made their Hollywood cameos! Check it out:

Nicely done, guys!

Friday, December 6, 2013

MGA Links: the year in review!

Some of you may not know that the MGA owns and operates an 18-hole par-3 golf course in Norton. MGA Links at Mamantapett is the headquarters of The First Tee of Massachusetts and a hub for junior golf in southeastern Massachusetts! Each summer, we invite many different youth groups and service organizations down to the Links for clinics and a fun day on the course. Membership at the Links is affordable and offers kids (and parents!) a no-stress way to get into the game of golf. Here are some highlights from our program year:

Carroll School for the Blind Clinic
Clinics at MGA Links: This year, we had some really great groups come down to Norton for clinics. Beacon Academy spent a day here over the summer, as did the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester, among many other organizations - too many to list! One really special day was when the Carroll School for the Blind made their annual trip to MGA Links. All of the students - who are either visually impaired or physically disabled - enjoyed the day thoroughly, but I think the instructors enjoyed it even more. Bob Beach volunteered as an instructor (of course he did!) as well as TFTM executive director Joe McCabe, MGA Links Head Pro Pete Walsh, TFTM volunteer Tom Bernier, and many others. These people work so hard to give young people meaningful experiences on the golf course.

Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester visits MGA Links

MGA Links Club Championship: Two perfect summer days! Jeremiah Sullivan won the boys 36-hole division, and Allison Hunt took the girls title. Kyzer Joshi won the 9-hole division.

Anna Haynes (right)

Proud of our members!: Three MGA Links junior members were honored with invitations to national events: Evan Ryan - Hank Haney IJGA Academy, The First Tee Scholar, Ouimet Scholar; Cora Bernier - The First Tee PLAYer Advanced Academy; Anna Haynes - Auntie Anne's Leaders & Entrepreneurs Forum. Not too shabby! Plus, Evan and Cora are now excelling in collegiate golf programs, and Anna will enter college next fall. It is fantastic to see these MGA Links success stories.

Evan Ryan, now a freshman at Nichols College
Cora Bernier, now a freshman at Univ. of Hartford

Power Mom: Kim Ryan, who is the mother of two MGA Links members (Evan & Aidan) was the grand prize winner in the Ouimet Fund Golf Essay contest. Her essay really shows how important and useful a tool golf can be in youth development. Super inspiring. You should really read her submission - it's awesome.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Coming full circle

"Best thing I ever read!" -S. Whitcomb

We just released the final issue of MassGolfer for the year, and if you haven't seen it yet, you should definitely check it out. It really pulls everything together nicely and showcases how big the theme of giving back through golf has been this year. And since it is #givingtuesday (didn't even know that was a I alone here?), think about donating to The First Tee of Massachusetts. Every donation gets entered into a drawing to win a set of Titleist irons! Not bad...imagine surprising someone at Christmas with that?!

A big thank you goes out to Titleist, one of our Patrons of golf, for donating the clubs.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving Thanks...and Giving Back

Those of us that work in the golf industry take our jobs seriously, but we certainly acknowledge the fact that golf, in the grand scheme of things, is sport, entertainment, a social activity. We're not curing cancer over here. But in our own way, golf and the individuals that power this industry, can give back to the community and make a difference in people's lives. We learned that in spades this year. There have been so many instances of golf giving back, starting with James Driscoll's Birdies for Boston following the Marathon Bombings. Evan Harmeling donated his entire check - the first win check of his young career - after winning the Mass Open. The First Tee of Massachusetts demonstrates this altruistic spirit every day, engaging young people in a sport that teaches them values like courtesy, perseverance, and responsibility. While these people don't do this to be lauded as heroes, it is nice to see when they are recognized.

In the upcoming issue of MassGolfer, we highlight all the amazing examples of selflessness and giving that have taken place in the commonwealth this past year. Here is one:
Bob Beach receiving the Patriot Award from PGA President Ted Bishop. Photo courtesy of

Bob Beach just returned from San Diego where he was presented with the PGA of America's Partriot Award. The Patriot Award is presented by The PGA of America to PGA Professionals who personify patriotism through the game of golf and demonstrate unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women who have valiantly served and protected the United States of America. Bob has certainly embodied the values of this award. He, with help from his wife Cathleen, assembles care packages containing golf clubs and balls that are sent to the troops in Afghanistan. He co-founded Golf For All, a program where PGA Professionals and Physical Therapists team up to teach disabled and PTSD Veterans, blind persons, children with autism and those with other cognitive challenges, to play and compete in the game of golf. For 20 years he has been the lead instructor in New England for teaching golf to the physically challenged. Last year alone, he ran 46 free golf clinics to provide instruction for disabled veterans. The list goes on...

After watching this video created by Golf For All, it's easy to see why this honor was bestowed upon Bob Beach. Read more about Bob and the Patriot Award.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

From 11-year old phenom to European Tour star

I was going through some old championship results the other day (by old, I mean late 1990's/early 2000's...which actually feels like yesterday) and I came across the Junior Amateur Championship results. A familiar name jumped out at me. Anyone recognize this little one?

The Titleist hat gives it away - that is an 11-year old Peter Uihlein turning in his scorecard at Quashnet Valley Country Club. He won the boys division title by two strokes. And he won it next year and the year after that as well. Then he got bored with us here in Mass and moved down to know, to work on his tan, and maybe play a few rounds here and there.

Incidentally, a couple hours after going through these archives, we found out that Peter was named the European Tour Rookie of the Year - the first American to earn this honor. All that time spent in Florida working on his game has certainly paid off. He won the US Amateur in 2010, played on two Walker Cup Teams, and occupied the top spot in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. He's had a great year on the European Tour. He's traveled the world. But before all that, he was an 11-year old signing his MGA scorecard on a summer day down the cape.

Now we can say we knew him when!

Read more about Peter on

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"The swingingest President ever"

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who was not only a Massachusetts native, but also a talented golfer.

JFK was a pretty interesting guy, it seems, and he was a golf nut. By all accounts he was the best golfer to ever inhabit the Oval Office, but he always tried to hide his love for the game because he believed it would harm his political career. His predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, was often criticized because people thought he spent more time on the links than he should have and Kennedy didn't want to seem like he "was as obsessed as Ike with a game seen as an out-of-reach privilege of the upper class." ( I ran into this great article in Golf & Leisure Cape Cod about the time that Jack spent at the Hyannisport Club. Here is an excerpt:
[Tom] Niblet, who went on to build both The Ridge Club and Holly Ridge Golf Club in South Sandwich, has rarely talked publicly about JFK since Nov. 22, 1963. Even now, many decades later, his voice begins to choke up as he remembers those heady times. In a personal memoir, he wrote: 

“When he died, so did a little bit of me.”
The 31-year-old pro met the dashing young president for the first time in 1961. He was preparing to lock up the pro shop when he spotted a couple walking across the empty parking lot. The man had a walking stick and was arm-in-arm with the woman. As they approached, Niblet recognized the president and Jacqueline Kennedy.
“Jack, I’d like you to meet Tom Niblet,” the First Lady said.
“My knees were a little weak but I was able to say it was an honor and a privilege,” Niblet recalls.
Being president has its privileges, yet JFK would always phone to check if the first tee was open before coming to the golf course. He once personally called to cancel a scheduled golf lesson, telling Niblet that “something came up.” “A few minutes later I saw Marine helicopters landing alongside the 14th fairway and an entourage of officials getting off. They were having some problems in Laos,” Niblet says.
Later that day Kennedy appeared in the pro shop and asked the young pro if he was busy. “Get your sticks,” he told Niblet, “and we’ll go play.”
A nervous Niblet scurried to the bag room to retrieve his clubs, only to learn that White House press secretary Pierre Salinger was on the course using them. With a borrowed set, he rushed to the tee, where the president and Chuck Spaulding, an investment banker, were waiting. “It’s your honor, Tom,” JFK said.
Despite his anxiousness, Niblet hit a solid drive. Spaulding then knocked it 10 yards further. At that point, Kennedy put his driver back into his bag, pulled out a 5-wood and hit his tee shot 175 yards down the middle. “I never wanted to be a big hitter,” he said. “I just like to be with big hitters.”
They played nine holes, a rarity for Kennedy, who usually only played Hyannisport’s inside loop comprised of No. 1, 2, 16, 17 and 18. “I played pretty good, made a couple of birdies,” Niblet recalled.
Afterward, Niblet thanked the president for inviting him to play. “Tom, we’ll do this more often,” JFK replied.
It was August 18, 1963. “We never had the chance,” Niblet said.

Read the full article here

Friday, November 15, 2013

A quick season recap

The day we dread has arrived. Today, the last GHIN revision of the active season marks the official end to the golf season here in Massachusetts, and the beginning of a long, cold winter. Break out the snuggies!

As we wrap up the season, let’s take a quick recap of what a great time we’ve all had…  

Mobile App: Early in the spring we launched our mobile app, bringing us squarely into the 21st century! The biggest advantage: mobile score posting. No more waiting at the GHIN computer in the pro shop. And for those of you who are woefully behind at score posting – you have no excuse now! Download it in your app store: search “MGAhome”  

Evan Harmeling gives back: Evan Harmeling winning the Massachusetts Open Championship in a 3-hole playoff in the rain was exciting enough. He faced his buddy and roommate Chris Fitzpatrick. The story was written. Then he got into the media room, began talking, and the room went silent. I’m talking pin-drop silence. As soon as he said, “I’d like to donate my winnings to The One Fund,” everyone in the room stopped and stared, thinking Is he serious? The Andover native went on to donate his first professional win check to The One Fund. Amazing story.  


US Amateur: What an amazing experience. Many of us had the opportunity to head over to Charles River and The Country Club to watch the world’s best amateurs in action. Let me tell you, both clubs had their party dresses on – the courses looked immaculate, and club staff were friendly and accommodating. Scott Guild and Scott Whitcomb were invited to assist with scoring at the Championship, which was a real feather in our cap.  
If you zoom way in and squint your eyes, you can see the ever-capable Scott Whitcomb dutifully reading scores!

MGA Junior Golf Fund Tournament: What a perfect day down at TPC Boston on October 28th! The annual tournament, in its 7th year, once again raised funds to support the important work that The First Tee does in Massachusetts. Our friends from Liberty Mutual played in the event, and said it was “a great time for a great cause.” Once again, the field filled up quickly, and despite a short frost delay, the day went off without a hitch.  

Bob Beach honored with Patriot Award: There are so many great stories this year about golf giving back, and Bob Beach is another one of them. Beach, the head pro at Braintree Municipal, was awarded the PGA Patriot Award. Bob has shown a great dedication to making the game of golf accessible to the disabled, including veterans, and we are so proud to have one of our own travel to San Diego to accept this honor. We'll feature more on Bob's charitable endeavors in an upcoming blog.

Bob Beach (in red) at a Special Needs Golf Clinic over the summer. Photo courtesy of Golf for All

Thanks for tuning in! We'll be posting once or twice per week through the winter months. Feel free to reach out to us with any interesting news or topics you'd like us to delve into.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

We're Back!

Hi everyone -
You might be scratching your head, thinking didn't they already try this? The answer to that is yes, but we have decided to re-launch the MGA blog so that it can serve as a real asset for all of our member golfers. It will provide you with stories from the season, an occasional look inside the MGA, photos and video, interesting golf tidbits we think you might be interested in, and helpful tips from our handicapping and course rating departments.

We plan on publishing once or twice per week through the winter months, keeping you all in the loop regarding what's going on with amateur golf in Massachusetts. Obviously, the Championship season provides us with a lot more ready-made content, so you will see a lot more of us then!

Please feel free to email us with any content suggestions. We look forward to keeping you connected! Thanks for supporting the MGA.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Scenes from the Season

- Hittin' the squegee's hard at the Mass Open - Early morning fog burning off at the Four Ball - Team MA wins the New England Junior Title! - PubLinks champ Ryan Clancy and a young fan - F&D champs the Lapierre's sizing up a putt - The First Tee at Dennis Highlands GC
 Harry McCracken holding court at NE Senior - Getting greens ready for Sr. Four Ball at Stow Acres CC - Standard bearers at the Mass Am - Getting ready to start at an MGA Member Day - The First Tee 'Careers on Course' - Keeping geese away at Indian Pond CC -