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 pga.com

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 Florida...you 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 mgalinks.org

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." (time.com) 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 -