Monday, April 28, 2014

Calling All Amateurs!

It's hard to believe that entries close for the 2014 Massachusetts Amateur Championship this Thursday! (Actually, it's hard to believe that this Thursday is May 1...where did April go?)

The Mass Amateur is really our flagship championship - not to take anything away from our other ten championships, but this one is really the biggie. And rightfully so! It is our oldest and most storied event, lasts an entire week, and puts players through a grueling test. Add in some amazing venues over the years, and past champions named Ouimet, Guilford, Bishop, Johnson, Salinetti, Driscoll, and's really an incredible event.

The week begins with a flurry of activity, as a field of 150 golfers descend on the championship course for round 1 of stroke play qualifying. We go off two tees in both a morning and afternoon wave. Repeat this on Tuesday - but with a lot more at stake, as the qualifying cut is made at the end of the day. The top 32 will move on to match play. Starting around late afternoon, a crowd gathers at the scoreboard and doesn't leave until the cut is made. Some players cruise through stroke play qualifying - but that doesn't guarantee success in the match play rounds. In fact, in the last 15 years, the stroke play medalist has won only twice (John Hadges in 2008, and Mike Calef in 2012), and has been knocked out in the first round of match play four times!

Wednesday is really the craziest day of the Championship - with the rounds of 32 and 16 all crammed into one day. By the time sunset hits on Wednesday evening, we have the quarterfinal matchups set...and everyone could really use a cold beverage!

Now it's Thursday morning and what was once a field of 150 golfers has been whittled down to 8. The feeling on the course is a lot more calm, but the competitors know what's at stake - just two more wins to get to the final match. For the two golfers that emerge at the end of the day, they will have played more than 100 holes of golf, probably under beating sun and humidity - and they have 36 more to go on Friday. By the time we get to the final match, it is really a test of mental and physical fortitude. Both players are exhausted, no doubt, so it all comes down to who wants it more.

Working at the Mass Amateur last year is what made me fall in love with working in the golf industry. Yes, it is a tiring, crazy week - and even more so for the players! - but it is just an incredible tournament that showcases the best of the best in our fair state.

Qualifying for the 2014 Massachusetts Amateur Championship will take place at ten different golf courses across the state. Entries close on Thursday, May 1 - don't miss out on your chance to play at this fantastic championship! Click here for more information

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Get your auction face on

It really doesn't feel like golf weather AT ALL today. But here's something that will get you in the mood to hit the links. The New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation is running its annual Tee-Up New England online auction, and it features some great courses! Bid for your chance to play at places like Dedham Country & Polo Club, Renaissance, Thorny Lea Golf Club, Cohasset Golf Club, Black Rock Country Club, Nashawtuc Country Club, and many many more great MGA Member Clubs.

The auction benefits the NERTF's important research - that really helps the golf industry here in New England. We don't always realize it, but the golf industry is an important part of our regional economy, and the NERTF helps to fund studies and research, and models best practices for keeping golf courses in good, sustainable shape for the future.

Click here for the online auction!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


There's not much that we can say about April 15th that hasn't already been said in the barrage of ongoing media coverage around the Marathon. Working in golf may sometimes seem like the pursuit of a leisure activity, but throughout last year, we saw how athletes and competitors in this sport and others can take what they do to an inspiring level.

Click here to read the article in the winter 2013 edition of MassGolfer about Evan Harmeling's grand gesture. In case you've been living under a rock, he donated his entire win check from the Mass Open (his first professional win check, mind you) to The One Fund. This story will never get old.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Drive, Chip, and Putt...AKA the coolest thing ever!

Imagine not only being able to go to Augusta, but getting the chance to PLAY at Augusta? The Drive, Chip & Putt Championship is such a neat opportunity for young golfers! The qualifying sites for next year were recently announced:

Sunday, June 29: Cyprian Keyes GC
Wednesday, July 9: LeBaron Hills CC
Tuesday, July 15: The Bay Club at Mattapoisett
Wednesday, July 30: Granite Links GC

Those who advance from Local Qualifying will continue to the sub-regional stage:
Wednesday, August 6: Pinehills GC

And those lucky few who advance from there will travel to Bethpage for the final regional qualifying round. From there, it's off to Augusta!

We saw Patrick Welch light it up at Thorny Lea GC last year during the US Junior Local Qualifying. I think it is safe to say that we will be seeing much more of this young talent over the next few years! If you have an aspiring young golfer in your life, why not take a shot at qualifying for next year?

Visit the official Drive Chip & Putt website for more information.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Let's go down the Cape!

Can you believe that we already have our SECOND Championship entry close tomorrow?! This one is the Senior Four-Ball, which will be held this year at Bayberry Hills GC and Bass River GC, two great courses run by the town of Yarmouth. This year, they're doing something pretty neat. On Saturday, April 26, Bayberry Hills is running a 'Demo Day' at the course as part of the ongoing Yarmouth Golf Festival. Be sure to check it out - its a good excuse to go down the Cape for a nice little afternoon! Vendors like Nike Golf, Titleist, Ping, Cleveland, and TaylorMade will be there giving away free stuff...and if the National Golf Expo taught me anything, it's that golfers love free swag!

Special thanks go to the Town of Yarmouth Golf Courses for presenting great opportunities like this! It's always nice to be able to golf somewhere new without breaking the bank.

Click here to learn more about this event

Monday, April 7, 2014

For love of the game

Like many 501(c)(3) organizations, the MGA is governed by a Board of Directors. We refer to these individuals as our officers. Our president serves a two-year term, and individuals who served a term as MGA President have come from all over the state. Our current president, Clarence Bennett, was elected last fall, replacing Dr. Paul Burke of Vesper Country Club.

Clarence Bennett

Clarence comes from Springfield and is a member of Longmeadow Country Club - a great spot out in the Springfield area that hosted the 2013 MGA Amateur Championship. I could go off on a tangent about how Longmeadow is the prettiest town ever...but I won't.

Clarence has quite an interesting life story - read an article written by Springfield Republican sportswriter Russ Held.

What all of our officers and committee members have in common is that they are volunteers...and without them as well as our more than 100 additional rules, course rating, and junior golf volunteers, it is quite certain that we wouldn't be able to do much of anything. Our volunteers are men and women from all over Massachusetts that love the game of golf and give their time to the MGA throughout the year. Whether it be helping Scott Whitcomb out with course rating, serving as a rules official at an MGA qualifier or championship, or volunteering at a First Tee clinic, our volunteers are really the lifeblood of the MGA. Can you imagine running the Amateur Championship - a weeklong event that begins with a field of 150 golfers - without rules officials? Or going through the Course Rating process for our more than 360 Member Clubs without the assistance of volunteers? I mean, Scott Whitcomb is good, but he's not THAT good.

Top: braving the rain last season
Bottom: L: volunteers at a The First Tee clinic R: rules officials at the MGA Amateur Championship

And while being on a different course every week sounds like a dream life, it's not all fun and games. These guys and gals are out there regardless of the weather...which could be anything here in New England! Heat, cold, rain, fog, humidity - they take it all in stride. As another golf season begins, we look forward to seeing all of our dedicated volunteers. From the MGA, a heartfelt THANK YOU!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It's already April?

I always loved April Vacation week. It was a teeny tiny preview of summer - the weather was usually starting to get nicer, lots of outdoor activities, and no school of course. This year MGA Links, our Junior Golf headquarters, is offering a way for kids to get outside and on the course. We are offering April Vacation golf lessons from Tuesday to Thursday (4/22 - 4/24) for only 15 bucks! This week will serve as the real kick-off to the junior golf season and we are so excited to get back out there!

MGA Links is a perfect, stress-free place for kids to learn to love golf. We have some great instructors, led by PGA Professional Pete Walsh, and dedicated volunteers that make every experience at the Links enjoyable. We have a great lineup of junior golf programming set for this season. And our junior membership is a great deal - $150 for the entire season, which gets your junior golfer full course access as well as access to a lot of the activities shown below.

To learn more about MGA Links and our junior golf offerings, visit, or stop by the clubhouse - 300 West Main Street in Norton.