Friday, May 30, 2014

50 and fabulous

This morning began round one of the Hornblower Memorial Tournament at Plymouth Country Club. This year marks the event's 50th anniversary, and it stands as one of the most highly regarded golf events in the Commonwealth. The list of past champions reads like a who's who of Massachusetts Golf - Fordie Pitts, Geoff Sisk, James Driscoll, Steve Tasho, Jack Kearney, John Hadges...just to name a few.

The tournament is named for Henry Hornblower, who founded Plymouth Country Club in the early 1900's. It has a pretty interesting history - the 'Hornblower Trophy' was originally a silver bowl given to Henry Hornblower as a token of thanks for his efforts to keep Plymouth CC from going under during the Great Depression. Apparently, the 'trophy' was then stored in a closet for years:

Fast forward to 1962, an old silver bowl with "Hornblower Trophy" engraved thereon was discovered in a dusty closet. With its discovery came a growing interest in the history of the Club and Mr. Hornblower's role in the development of this Plymouth hillside, and also spreading the game of golf for all. At the same time as Arnold Palmer was assembling his "army", members of Plymouth CC, under the leadership of primarily A. Linwood Ellis III (a/k/a "Skeet") were relearning the legacy of Henry Hornblower, whose original tournament had begun just about the time that Palmer was born.

Not bad!

Meanwhile, Hornblower decided to create a tournament at his beloved club that would attract top amateur talent from around the region. The first Hornblower Tournament was played in 1935, and the event took place annually until 1940, when Hornblower passed away; World War II also played a part in putting the event on hold - it wasn't resumed as an annual event until 1965. Since then it has been a staple of the Massachusetts golf season.

Read about the history of the Hornblower Memorial

Plymouth Country Club is a beautiful seaside course designed by none other than Donald Ross. The tournament is 36-holes over two days, with a cut to the low 70 and ties at the end of the day today. The field is perennially filled with the very best of the best amateur golfers from New England.

The 2013 Hornblower Memorial

This year brings a couple new things for the Hornblower - for the first time there will be a separate Senior Championship - this event will take place on August 18-19. Additionally, Plymouth CC hosted a 'Pro'-Am yesterday to celebrate the tournament. In this case, the 'pros' are competitors in this year's field, who were paired with special guests - our own Jesse Menachem was invited to take part in the event and had a great time on a perfect day!

The Hornblower Memorial is a major points event in the MGA's Player of the Year points system. The winner receives 150 Player of the Year points - and it's no surprise that Hornblower past champions have gone on to win the Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year award as well.

Looking forward to seeing who will come out on top this year - the field is pretty stacked, as usual! Enjoy it, Hornblower Memorial! You don't look so bad for 50!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A hub of Championship golf!

Another day...another big Championship coming to one of our Member Clubs...yawn.

Just kidding, this is super exciting! Today, the USGA announced that Salem Country Club will host the 2017 U.S. Senior Open Championship. So we got 2013 U.S. Amateur, 2015 (and 2016...and hopefully longer) Constellation Senior Players Championship, 2016 U.S. Senior Women's Amateur, 2017 U.S. Senior Open, and of course the Deutsche Bank Championship every Labor Day weekend...

Not bad for a small state that only gets six good golfing months per year if we're lucky! This latest announcement really speaks to the strength of not only the golf courses in Massachusetts, but also the fantastic golf community we have. Massachusetts is a great state for golf!

Read a great article by the Globe's Mike Whitmer about the announcement

Which of course, circles back to our big announcement from last week regarding the release of our Economic Impact Report. See, everything ties together. Golf continues to have a huge effect on not only the state economy but also, in a more specific sense, the local economies surrounding Championship host sites.

Be sure to check out the dedicated website we've created for the Economic Impact Report

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Being this busy keeps us young!

The past few days have been very eventful in the Mass Golf Kingdom! Not only are we all over the state with events, we also just released something very interesting and exciting (well, exciting to us at least!)

First thing's first - events! A Member Day, 3 Mass Open qualifiers, and the Senior Four-Ball Championship! The Highland Country Club Member Day kicked off the week on Monday. For those of you who haven't heard of it, Highland is a really neat little hidden gem in Attleboro. The highlight of that day (other than the course and the weather) was a net double eagle from Sally Degan of Sagamore Spring GC! Good start to the week!

Tuesday brought us to Glen Ellen, a club that has been a wonderful host to many MGA events - most recently last year's Amateur Public Links Championship - for our second Open qualifier of the year. BC Eagle Nick Pandelena posted the low round at 3-under on another beautiful day.

Early morning in the Berkshires...ahhh
Hump day split the squad - we had another Open qualifier at Wahconah in the scenic Berkshires, and the opening round of the Senior Four-Ball Championship at Bayberry Hills and Bass River, two great courses operated by the town of Yarmouth. Again, couldn't have asked for a nicer day! Wahconah is out's pretty much as far out as you can go and still be in Massachusetts, and the views are awesome. And round 1 of the Senior Four-Ball went off without a hitch on the Cape. I'd be remiss if I didn't express our gratitude to all of our host clubs for being so hospitable and providing our players with a great experience!

Also on Wednesday, the Perkins School for the Blind had their annual student outing at MGA Links. To say that this is a great and inspiring day is an understatement. Seeing these students feel empowered by hitting a golf ball or making a putt is amazing.
A perfect day at MGA Links!

This morning brings the team back together down the Cape - our fourth Open qualifier is at Woods Hole GC - talk about great views! There's something about being right next to the water that is hard to describe. And another great crew at this club that is making everyone's experience fantastic. Down the road, we are wrapping up the Senior Four-Ball.
Early morning on Buzzards Bay...ahhh

But the biggest news of today is the release of our latest Massachusetts Golf Economic Impact Study. Did you know that the golf industry contributes more to the state economy than all other sports COMBINED?? There are so many positive things that the golf industry is doing for this state - tourism, manufacturing, jobs, youth development, economic development...the list goes on. So remember that by playing and promoting golf, you are doing matter how well you play. You can learn more about our Economic Impact Report here. The report was commissioned by the Alliance of Massachusetts Golf Organizations (AMGO). Spread the word about our impact! Golf is great!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A century-long tradition

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship! We've had some pretty impressive names engraved on the trophy over the past century - Ray Ouimet, Eddie Lowery, Mass Golf Hall of Fame inductee Fred Wright, Kevin Johnson, James Driscoll, defending Mass Open Champion Evan get the point.

Entries for this year's Championship close next Thursday and we are all looking forward to what is sure to be a great event at Nashawtuc CC in Concord. We already have a ridiculous field of exempt competitors - Paul Lei will be back to try and defend his title, but first he will have to compete with Steven DiLisio, who recently made news as the medalist at our first MGA Open Championship qualifier. He is only 16 years old! I'm sure we'll be seeing his name in golf news more frequently.

And you never know, we might see a player come through one of the qualifying rounds to win the title! We have some great courses lined up to host the qualifying rounds - Dudley Hill, Southers Marsh, CC of Billerica, The Blandford Club, Needham GC, and Amherst GC. Qualifying takes place from July 1-July 10. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

If you don't like the weather...wait 5 minutes

Boy, is it cold out today! We are just about wrapping up the 34th MGA Four-Ball Championship. After what felt like July weather yesterday, we are now in the arctic. Kidding obviously, it's not THAT cold out...but I think the 40 degree temperature drop and whipping winds really threw some people for a loop!

Nonetheless, we had a fantastic tournament and saw some great golf. Alex Stimpson & James Kroeger, who were the 2012 Four-Ball Champions, posted a ridiculous round to take home the 2014 title.

That's a lot of birdies
These guys also happen to be employees of our valued Patron, Titleist! So not only do we congratulate them, but we also thank them for all they do for the MGA. 

Additionally, we have to extend our sincere appreciation to our two host sites, Ferncroft CC, and The Golf Club at Turner Hill for helping us put on our largest event of the year, with nearly 400 golfers...that is a LOT of people. Especially impressive is the fact that this part of the state had a horrible winter, and these two courses put in a lot of work to get ready to host us.

Also, I didn't hate hanging out in a turn of the century mansion for two days...if you haven't been to Turner Hill, the place is pretty sweet. I took the opportunity to wander around the mansion for a minute - you know, because it was so cold out and I just had to stay inside - and it's pretty impressive. No wonder so many people I know got married here!

Anyway, back to golf. Another thank you has to be extended to our Rules Officials. These guys kill it out there! It's easy to do what they do on a day like Monday, when it was perfect and summery. But today, they were out there too. It was not quite as pleasant outside today, but they went out there with a smile on their faces because they love the game of golf and love the MGA. Couldn't ask for anything more!!

We're off and running with the 2014 season! Next week, the Senior Four-Ball down the Cape. Keep up with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

Monday, May 12, 2014

On the road again...

We got some big things going on! Today kicks off both the Championship AND Member Days season! And we couldn't ask for a nicer day for it. Currently I am sitting on the patio at Renaissance soaking up the sun and watching some nice putting on the 18th green. Meanwhile, down the road, the rest of our Championship staff is hard at work running the 34th Four-Ball Championship at both Ferncroft CC and The GC at Turner Hill. After this long, terrible winter, we are finally into the most exciting part of the year and we couldn't be happier about it!
L: Ferncroft CC R: Renaissance
Sunny skies at Renaissance

The always impressive GC at Turner Hill

Friday, May 9, 2014

Everybody needs a good tailor

Last night we had to pleasure of welcoming Club Champion as a new MGA sponsor! We attended the grand opening event at their new location in downtown Needham.
Club Champion is a really interesting concept. It's not like walking into GolfSmith or Dick's Sporting Goods. They are custom club-fitting and that's all. And they do it well! They have two hitting bays and a putting green set up for the club fitting process, and are fully stocked with components from every brand. They can build you a dream set of clubs that are perfectly made for you, and are definitely a must-see for the dedicated golfer. Their commitment to quality is what sets them apart and why we think they are a great fit for our newest sponsor.

Another thing that sets them apart from your everyday retail store is the staff. These guys know their stuff! They'll be able to accommodate your needs and wishes, whether you are looking for a full set of clubs or just a new driver, or if you're just exploring your options. It's like going to a good tailor - makes all the difference!

This is the first Club Champion location in New England and we are excited to welcome them to a great community of golfers here in Massachusetts! The shop is at 924 Great Plain Ave. in Needham. Like their Boston-specific Facebook page to keep up with news and events!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Introducing the class of 2014

Today is a very exciting day for golf in Massachusetts. We just announced that we are inducting a class into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame for 2014!

I know what you're thinking: 'I didn't even know there was a Mass Golf Hall of Fame?!'

To be fair, we haven't inducted a class since the inaugural one in 2002. This coincided with the MGA Centennial Celebration. That first class welcomed Pat Bradley, Fred Corcoran, Francis Ouimet, and Donald Ross into the HOF. While there were plans to continue with a HOF class every few years, they never materialized, and more than a decade went by.

Meanwhile, last fall, Jesse Menachem, was named the new executive director of the MGA. Our fearless leader made it a point to revitalize the Mass Golf Hall of Fame - and here we are! A committee was formed earlier this year and through some research and hard work, a 2014 class was nominated and approved!

Now, I think this is super exciting, and you should too. Massachusetts has produced some pretty impactful golf figures during the past century or so. We came up with an initial list during one of our first meetings this year and it felt impossible to narrow it down to just a few inductees! But after careful deliberation, we settled upon seven individuals who really left their mark on golf in the Bay State.

Presenting your Mass Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2014...drum roll...

TED BISHOP - one of the most dominant amateur players of the WWII era
THE CURTIS SISTERS (Harriot & Margaret) - trailblazers who changed women's golf forever
JOANNE GOODWIN - the quiet gal from Plymouth CC who dominated women's golf in MA in the middle of the 20th century
PAUL HARNEY - (in my opinion) the best professional player ever to come out of MA, and by all accounts, an even better human being
BOB TOSKI - the ageless wonder who left the Tour in the prime of his career to teach and raise a family
FRED WRIGHT - the seven-time Mass Amateur Champion who was selected to the first ever Walker Cup team

We are all pretty jazzed about this announcement. Later this month we will release details about a gala celebration to honor these individuals, which will take place this fall. Check out the website we created for the Mass Golf Hall of Fame - we will continually update it with new articles, photos, and resources.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Our little state sure does pack a punch!

This morning, the PGA Tour announced that a Champions Tour event was coming back to Boston! The last time our state was home to a stop on the Champions Tour was from 1981-2008, when Nashawtuc Country Club annually hosted the Bank of America Championship. Starting in 2015, Belmont Country Club will host the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship.

The scenic Belmont Country Club

Obviously this is huge news! It is a great honor for one of our oldest Member Clubs, and a nice feather in the cap for the state of Massachusetts. Belmont recently completed a massive clubhouse renovation and the place is GORGEOUS! Definitely a worthy venue for a PGA Championship.

Although we are a small state, we are no slouch when it comes to hosting big golf championships. Earlier this year, the USGA announced that Wellesley Country Club will host the 2016 U.S. Women's Senior Amateur Championship, and The Country Club played host to last year's U.S. Amateur Championship. And of course we cannot forget about the Deutsche Bank Championship that each labor day weekend brings the best of the best to our little town here in Norton. These events are immense undertakings for the host clubs, and can bring a great boon to the local economies surrounding the venue.

Since 1980, Massachusetts has welcomed not only the Bank of America and Deutsche Bank Championships, but also:

U.S. Amateur: 2013, 1982
U.S. Open: 1988
U.S. Women's Open: 2004, 1984
U.S. Women's Amateur: 1997, 1995
U.S. Senior Open: 2001
U.S. Senior Amateur: 1996
U.S Junior Amateur: 2005, 1992 (when a young man named Tiger took the title)
U.S. Girls Junior: 1995, 1987
Curtis Cup: 2010
Ryder Cup: 1997

Not bad for a state that only has golf weather for six months out of the year! Read more about the Constellation Championship.