Monday, March 31, 2014

Let the games begin...sort of.

Well, the day has arrived. Tomorrow marks the 'official' beginning of the golf season here in Massachusetts (terrible weather notwithstanding). What this means is that scores that you post will now count toward your handicap index.

Unfortunately, what this doesn't mean is that all courses immediately become playable. This winter has been a bear for all of us, especially course superintendents. Hopefully things will start looking up soon, and we can get out there! We just hosted the New England Green Section Seminar last week, which serves as sort of an unofficial kick-off to the season for superintendents, pros, green committees, and club managers. So everyone is ready to we just need Mother Nature to cooperate.

We have a lot of good stuff on the docket for the 2014 season. So stay tuned, cross your fingers for weather improvements, and we'll see you out there!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Members Only

Did you know that being an MGA Member is really easy? If you're a golfer in the state of Massachusetts, there's really no excuse not to be a member. All you have to do is maintain an active Handicap Index with an MGA Member Club...which, incidentally, is almost every club in the state. What are you waiting for? The season officially begins on APRIL 1! What does this mean? Rounds you play in Mass now count toward your Handicap Index. This winter has been so cruel, I think we deserve a great golf season...*fingers crossed*

And don't forget to download the My MGA Home mobile app so you can take us with you on the go! The app has everything you would find on your My MGA Home portal - score posting, event management, club information, golf news, and more. Just trying to make things convenient for our Members across the state!

We have a lot of great things coming up this season, so don't miss out - contact a club near you to reactivate your Handicap Index for the 2014 season.

To learn more about our Member Benefits, click here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The golf course and you: a primer

We are just a week away from the 2014 New England Green Section Seminar, which will be held at Andover Country Club. The seminar is an annual event that is presented by the MGA, Golf Course Superintendents Association of New England (GCSANE), and the USGA with the goal of educating superintendents, golf professionals, green committee members, club managers, and club personnel on new topics that have come up in the industry. This seminar can be useful for your average golf geek as well - there is some really interesting information that is presented each year.

This year we are focusing on something that any golfer can relate to - how do all the different parts of a golf course or country club come together to impact your golfing experience? We're talking about issues that affect everyone who steps to the tee - from the championship player to the high handicapper to the 5 round a year golfer. Every part of golf course operation affects you whether you realize it or not! What we as an industry constantly strive toward is making the golfer experience a positive one each time he or she heads out for a round. Especially these days, when people have so many options for leisure time activities, it is imperative that we give you a worthwhile experience - whether you're out shooting 90's or going for the course record.

This year's Keynote Speaker, Jim Remy (left), just hangin' out with Jim Nantz
Learn more about the New England Green Section Seminar. Did you know that we are one of the largest events of this kind in the nation? If you're free on Tuesday, stop by Andover Country Club for what is sure to be a great day.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The changing way we get our golf news

You don't have to be a media analyst to notice that the way people get their news is changing every day. We are bombarded with the internet all the time - which is why it is nice to get out on the course where you can be off the grid, if only for a few hours! We have been stepping up our digital and social media game lately, most recently by inking a partnership with Global Golf Post.

This partnership gives us another way to connect with our Members. The first release of MGA Must-Read Mondays, brought to you by Global Golf Post, hit your inbox this morning. These weekly emails will give you a good combination of local and national golf news and it's a nice little addition to a Monday morning. Monday mornings need all the help they can get! So before you dig into your work, relax, have a cup of coffee, and catch up on your golf news. We will give you fresh, interesting content each Monday.

We hope you like it! And don't forget to follow us on all our other outlets: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. I can't wait for the season to begin so we can start posting some great course photos on Instagram!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Open to the public

It's interesting when you think of the beginnings of the game of golf versus where we are today. In particular, the move toward public facilities has signaled a definite shift in the dynamics of golf that allow so many more people to enjoy this great game.

Reading a biography of the late, great, Dick Haskell inspired this post. Mr. Haskell was the executive director of the MGA for 29 years, and during his tenure, the number of MGA Member Golfers increased by more than 400%! In his obituary, former Boston Globe golf writer Paul Harber said:

"...most important, he helped the MGA make the uneasy transition from an organization dominated by exclusive an organization whose majority of members play public golf."

Public Courses abound!
Top Row L-R: South Shore CC, George Wright GC, Pinehills GC
Middle Row L-R: Glen Ellen CC, New England CC, Brookmeadow CC
Bottom Row L-R: Stow Acres CC, Granite Links GC, Bass River GC

As we stand now, more than two-thirds of our 360 Member Clubs are open for public access for all or part of the year. And nearly half of our 84,000 Member Golfers are enrolled at public facilities.

Now, this is not to say that we don't have some absolutely stunning private facilities in this state. In fact, we have some of the country's best and most historic clubs - The Country Club, Essex County Club, Worcester CC, Longmeadow CC, Brae Burn, Winchester...just to name a few. We really are spoiled with all these amazing clubs.

But, private course membership just isn't realistic for a lot of people. Outside of purely financial concerns, I've heard from a handful of people that they just don't have enough time to make private club membership worthwhile. People are busy! Between work and carting the kids back and forth, it's hard to get a lot of rounds in during our short and hectic season.

At the National Golf Expo a few weeks ago, the most popular answer to "Where do you play?" was "Everywhere!" I think a lot of people like having the opportunity to play all over the place and see a different course every weekend. And I am happy that as the seventh-largest state golf association in the country, we have a wealth of public-access facilities for our members to enjoy. Now that the weather is (hopefully) starting to turn, grab your clubs and get out there!

Click here for a listing of MGA Member Clubs. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Championship sneak peek: Wellesley Country Club

It is pretty remarkable to reflect on how many great and historic golf courses there are in our relatively small state. The site of this year's MGA Father & Daughter Championship illustrates that point. Wellesley Country Club is a club with a rich and interesting history. It is also a club that has been a great friend to the MGA over the years, hosting countless Championships, and serving as the host venue for our annual Salute to Champions Dinner.

Wellesley is an interesting course in that it has been touched by three of the greats - Donald Ross, Wayne Stiles, and Geoffrey Cornish. Ross designed the original 9 in 1910, Stiles remodeled the course in the 1920s, and Cornish was brought in in 1961 to expand the course to 18 holes. Since then, famed golf course architects Brian Silva and Mark Mungeam have made renovations to the course. Not too shabby!

When they celebrated their centennial in 2010, Wellesley CC created a time capsule that will be opened in 2060. The story of the clubhouse is pretty interesting - it was originally designated as the town hall and 'poor farm.' Looking at it now, you would never even entertain that possibility - place is gorgeous!

From an article written about the club's beginnings:
The yearly lease was $300 and came with a few stipulations: Wellesley would continue to haul rock and stone from the gravel pit on site and no liquor was to be sold on the premises. Of the 33 founding members to sign for the incorporation of the newly named “Wellesley Country Club,” three were women.

The estimated cost to build a nine-hole course (designed by Donald Ross), two tennis courts, and a croquet area was $2,300. A similar amount was needed to convert the existing building into a clubhouse. The former town hall meeting space became the ballroom; the small pox hospital, the pro shop.

Wellesley has hosted the Mass Open twice, Junior Amateur twice, Senior Amateur twice, and Father & Son once. It also hosted the 2003 USGA Women's State Team Championship, and was just chosen as the site of the 2016 U.S. Women's Senior Open.

The original clubhouse (left); some players on the original course (right)

The 2014 MGA Father & Daughter Championship will be on August 14. The event features two divisions - the Championship Division and the Forward Division. Father/Daughter teams will be paired in an 18-hole selected drive-alternate shot format. Learn more here.

Read an interesting article about the club published in 2010