Monday, July 28, 2014

The future of golf

The summer is a very exciting time for aspiring golfers in Massachusetts. After suffering through the winter, Junior Golf opportunities are plentiful during school vacation. This past weekend, MGA Links at Mamantapett hosted its annual Club Championship. The event is a 36-hole tournament over two days, and there is also a Kids Division which is a 9-hole event for golfers under age 10.

The tournament was a resounding success - everyone had a great time out on the course. Congratulations to Louis Dion III, winner of the Junior Division, and Kyzar Joshi, Kids Division Champion.

MGA Links is the home of The First Tee of Massachusetts and is a great place for junior golfers to build their skills and learn the game in a stress-free environment. All summer long, we host camps, clinics, and leagues for junior golfers of any ability level. Memberships are reasonably priced - a junior membership is just $150 for the year!

We definitely have Junior Golf on the brain this week, as the 96th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship will take place today through Wednesday. This event has been going on for 100 years (we skipped a few years due to World War I and II) and has some pretty impressive past champions - Ray Ouimet, Fred Wright, Eddie Lowery, James Driscoll, just to name a few.

For a state that has an abbreviated golf season, we have a very strong junior golf program - there are countless opportunities all season for young people to get out on the course and hone their skills. The First Tee of Massachusetts now has four program facilities spread out around the state and provides a life skills curriculum that fosters positive youth development through the game of golf. Just think about the values that are inherent to this game - courtesy and etiquette, patience, perseverance, responsibility - it is such a natural fit. Learn more about The First Tee of Massachusetts

And we can't forget about Drive, Chip and Putt as well! This week there will be the final local qualifier of the season at Granite Links on Wednesday. The regional qualifying stage will be next week at Pinehills, and from there, the qualifiers get to go to a little place called Augusta National next spring. Such a neat opportunity for these young golfers.

Enough can't be said for how much of a difference being involved in activities like golf can make in the life of a young person. That message was really brought home by MGA Links Mom Kim Ryan. She won the Ouimet Fund essay contest last year and her submission was a heartfelt expression of how golf has helped her two sons grow into mature young men. Read it here.

And keep track of the action at the MGA Junior Amateur Championship!

Monday, July 21, 2014

No rest for the weary...

Last week was fantastic! In spite of some weather hiccups, the 106th Massachusetts Amateur Championship was a resounding success. And a great deal of that success is owed to our incredible host venue, Kernwood CC. It seemed like they were three steps ahead of every situation - when we had our rain delays, the staff took it in stride and had a lunch spread prepared before we could even blink! Course superintendent John Eggleston and his crew had the course in amazing shape and dealt with the deluge of rain that hit us on Wednesday like it was no biggie! And head professional Frank Dully and his staff were able to accommodate us even when we had to push the finals back to Saturday. General manager David Mazur and his staff really made us feel at home the whole week - which makes a huge difference when we are on-site for 5+ days!

So let us just say, THANK YOU, Kernwood CC. We couldn't have done it without you!!

But now we must press on, this season knows no breaks! This week we will call Winchester Country Club home, as it plays host to the 85th New England Amateur Championship. Another vintage Donald Ross...could we be luckier?! This will be the first time that Winchester has hosted the New England Am, who’s past champions include Fred Wright, Ted Bishop, Brad Faxon, James Driscoll, and Jim Renner.

Winchester CC

There is one past champion of this event that is not in the field but will certainly be on-site this week. Two-time New England Amateur Champion Jim Salinetti is the head professional at Winchester, but before that, he was one of the most dominant amateur players of his era in this state.

After the New England Am, we go to Concord for the 96th Junior Amateur Championship at Nashawtuc. And after that, we go back down the Cape for our Amateur Public Links Championship at Cranberry Valley GC in Harwich. Boy, this season is going by quickly!

Friday, July 18, 2014

How about we do this again tomorrow?

Why couldn't the weather be like this all week? We had an exciting morning of two semifinal matches here at the Amateur Championship, and the two last men standing are John Kelly and Doug Clapp. They will face off tomorrow morning bright and early for the Massachusetts Cup and 300 MGA Player of the Year points.

View some highlights from today

Today was a tale of two matches. Match 1 seemed like it was over before it started, as John Kelly's putting and short game was absolutely ridiculous. Match 2 seemed like it would never be over, as neither player could really take control until very late. Check out our twitter feed for more in-depth match coverage:

1: Parziale finds the green in 2 on hole 1 to set up his 6th birdie on this hole this week for a quick 1 up lead
2: John has no problem finding the green on hole 2 while Matt gets into fairway bunker trouble. All square thru 2
3: John finds green from nearly behind a tree and Matt gets up and down from short of the green. All square thru 3.
4: Textbook lag putting on the par 3 hole 4 for John and Matt. Still all square
5: John wins putting contest on hole 5. Drains uphill 18 footer to go 1 up
6: This big tree knocked down Matt's 3rd shot & led to bogey. John's short game is masterful so far for 2 up lead thru 6
8: Kelly is unflappable. Made downhill 5 footer to save par and keep his 3 up lead thru 8.
9: Target shooting on 9. John's 3 footer beats out Matt's 6 footer. John is 4 up thru 9
10: Matt's drive on 10 (right). He is 5 down thru 10
11: The putter failed Matt again. A three putt on 11. Kelly is 6 up
12: Match 1 is dormie on 13th tee. Kelly just lagged his 30 foot downhill putt to inches
13: Fitting end. Kelly wins 6 and 5 with a sweet 10 foot putt.

1: Jake makes birdie on 1 to Doug's to a 1up start
2: Jake flies the green while Doug puts his approach in birdie territory. All square after 2
3: Beautiful approach shot by Doug and makes the birdie to go 1up
4: After nearly making a long birdie, Doug misses his par putt and we are back to all square
5: Doug and Jake halve the scenic 5th with pars...we're still AS going to the driveable par4 6th
6: Jake can't get up and down from the deep greenside bunker, allowing Doug to go back to 1up
7: Whoa! Doug just chipped to within an inch...but Jake answers emphatically with a birdie to square the match
8: . throwin' darts on the 8th, stuck his approach to 2 feet and goes 1up
9: Well, Doug answers with a long birdie putt on 9 to square the match again
10: Both Doug and Jake have trouble with the sloping 10th green, and we are still all square
11: Meanwhile, across the road we are STILL all square and heading back across Kernwood Street...someone's gotta make a move soon!
12: Annnnd Jake and Doug halve the par 3 12th with pars. We're still AS. Tees are back on 13, let's see what happens
13: Great par save by Doug after an errant drive left of the f'way. And Jake lips his short birdie putt. We are STILL all square
14: Both Doug and Jake with great chips out of the rough on 14...and they both make their par putts to remain AS
15: Could be at a turning point here on 15-Jake left drive way left and may have hurt wrist on 2nd shot...we'll see what happens here
- I guess he's ok-just had a masterful chip to within a foot or 2...we'll see what Doug does with his birdie putt
- Another lip out for Jake on a short putt, and Doug makes par. Doug is now 1up with only 3 holes to play
16: Doug misses the chance to go dormie while Jake makes a nice chip from the fringe to save par and halve the hole, and we go to 17!
17: 2013 MGA Player of the Year Doug Clapp is your 2nd finalist and will meet John Kelly tomorrow at 7am

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What a day, what a day

What a great day here at Kernwood! Could the weather be any nicer?! And could the golf be any more exciting?!

We are ready for our two semifinal matches which will be contested tomorrow morning. Because the weather threw a wrench in things yesterday, tomorrow will be a short day, as we are just playing the semi's in the morning and giving the course back to the good people of Kernwood CC for the afternoon! Saturday morning will be our final match and by mid-day we will have crowned the 106th Massachusetts Amateur Champion!

Today was dynamite. The course was superb and the golf even better than that. Here are some highlights about our four semifinalists:

JOHN KELLY (25) - from East Longmeadow and plays out of Twin Hills CC, where he is a six-time club champion. Works as an account rep at Kellco Products. Read more about John from MassLive's Russ Held; watch John's post-match interview.

MATT PARZIALE (27) - from Brockton and plays out of Thorny Lea GC. Last month finished as Low Amateur at the 105th Massachusetts Open Championship. Won the MGA Player of the Year honors in 2009 and finished second last year. Works as a firefighter for the city of Brockton along with his father, Vic, who is on his bag this week. Watch Matt's post-match interview.

JAKE SHUMAN (18) - from Needham and plays out of Blue Hill CC. Is the defending MGA Junior Player of the Year and will take his talents to Duke University in the fall, where he will play on the golf team. This is his first time ever competing in this event. Read this Boston Globe feature on Jake from last fall; watch Jake's post-match interview.

DOUG CLAPP (47) - from Walpole and plays out of Old Sandwich GC. Is the defending MGA Player of the Year, and was a two-time All American golfer at Amherst College. Works as an attorney and has advanced to the semifinal matches twice now. Watch Doug's post-match interview.

Read Mike Whitmer's feature from yesterday

Nothing wrong with this view!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Matches on Matches

We're in it now! All the round of 32 matches have been completed and we have our round of 16 matches playing. The first match of the day provided a highlight - 32 seed Chris Gentle, who advanced to match play through a playoff at dusk yesterday, knocked off the stroke play medalist! He is currently playing John Kelly in the round of 16. Kelly beat Ferncroft's Charlie May 3&2 this morning.

The closest match of the morning was between two veterans to this event - Doug Clapp and John Hadges. These guys were matching each other shot for shot through most of the round, but Clapp was able to pull away on 17.

We have a couple relative unknowns who won their matches this morning as well - Jack Lang, although not unknown to the junior golf community, is playing in his first Mass Amateur, as is Jake Shuman. Austin Smith of Concord CC also won his first match, as did Jason Short of Marlborough CC.

Some familiar faces are making an early exit today - Ben Spitz lost to Victor Galvani in 19 holes, Peter French was defeated by Ben Bridgeo, and Bill Drohen was knocked off by Short.

And here's something to file under 'Not Surprising': Matt Parziale is on fire today. Kid is feeling it. Could be an interesting day!

Stay tuned...

Presenting your Match Play Competitors

It's a little soggy out this morning in Salem and we are keeping a close eye on the weather today, because we need to get both round of 32 AND round of 16 matches in today! Cross your fingers for us!

Keep track of live scoring!

And now, without further are some tidbits about your round of 32.

Match 1: Anthony Vecchiarelli v. Chris Gentle
Anthony plays for the University of Hartford where he is teammates with defending New England Amateur Champion Evan Russell. Chris plays golf for St. Thomas Aquinas College and during the summers works at his home course, Mount Pleasant Golf Club in his hometown of Lowell.

Match 2: John Kelly v. Charlie May
John played for the University of Rhode Island and hails from East Longmeadow. He is currently working as an account rep for Kellco Products. Charlie plays golf for Elon University after an illustrious high school golf career where he won multiple state championships and was named an All-Scholastic by three different newspapers.

Match 3: Brian Higgins v. Ryan Harris
Brian is one of the few veterans in the field and is an MGA past champion and player of the year. He has three big fans rooting for him at home - his three daughters! Ryan just returned from playing in the Eastern Amateur in Virginia.

Match 4: Jack Lang v. Kyle Spellman
Jack will be a senior at Lexington HS this fall and in addition to golf, he plays the piano! Kyle is from Weston and runs a commercial real estate development company. He recently won The Squirrels title at The Country Club.

Match 5: Ben Spitz v. Victor Galvani
Ben balances a job in finance and 1-year-old twin girls, but manages to get his golf in as well, he once said he gets his practice in wherever he can, even if it means making putts on the living room carpet. Victor played on the Elon University golf team and now plays his golf out of Framingham CC.

Match 6: Austin Smith v. Brian Bassett
Austin has never played in this event and lists his 2014 season highlight as making 6 birdies in 7 holes playing with my boss and a company board member. That's one way to impress the big wigs! Brian plays out of Oyster Harbors and is also a newbie to this championship.

Match 7: Peter French v. Ben Bridgeo
Although only 20 years old, we can count Peter as one of our veterans in the field - it seems like he is always in the mix! His family owns Maplegate CC and you'll see his father - his biggest fan - following him this week. Ben is the golf coach for Woburn High School and played his college golf for Providence.

Match 8: Matt Parziale v. Matt Naumec
The battle of Matt's should be a good one. Matt P. is another tournament veteran who, in his non-golf time, is a firefighter for the city of Brockton. Matt N. is from Wilbraham and was selected to play on Team Massachusetts in the New England Junior Invitational last year.

Match 9: Jake Shuman v. DJ Hynes
Jake, who will play for Duke University in the fall, plays multiple sports - soccer, baseball, and basketball - in addition to golf. He said he still plays basketball almost every day in the winter...Blue Devil walk on? (I kid, I kid). DJ has played in this event before and played his college golf at Harvard. We got a couple of smart guys in this match!

Match 10: Cody Booska v. JC Guthrie
Cody is from the northwest corner of Massachusetts - Turners Falls, and plays his golf at Crumpin-Fox. He won the Greenfield Open this year. JC owns Guthrie Brothers Landscaping which he founded in 1999 with his brother Neal.

Match 11: Bill Drohen v. Jason Short
Bill is a past champion of this event who's hobby is chasing his 3 year old daughter and 4 year old son around! He is a high school math teacher. Jason is the defending Marlborough CC club champion, the youngest player to do so.

Match 12: Jack Whelan v. Lucas Hicks
Jack is having a great year, coming off a solid spring season at St. Lawrence University. Lucas is from Milton and just graduated from Nobles, where he played on the varsity golf and ski teams. He was ranked sixth in the country in his ski event this past winter!

Match 13: John Hadges v. Doug Clapp
The battle of the veterans. John and Doug are old hats at this. John has two children that can often be found on the course at Thorny Lea getting their practice in. Doug is an attorney who in spite of billing ridiculous hours last year was able to capture the MGA Player of the Year Award.

Match 14: Thomas McCloskey Jr. v. Zack Ungvarsky
Zack played Division I golf at the University of Hartford. He is a certified personal trainer and owns Alpha Athletics in Wilmington. Thomas is from Northboro and has been having a great year, as he also qualified earlier this season for the Mass Open.

Match 15: Nick Rodriguez v. John Lazor
Nick plays golf for the University of North Texas 'Mean Green' and last season had the fourth-best stroke average on the team. John is playing in his first Amateur Championship and also plays squash and skis in his free time.

Match 16: Billy Walthouse v. Nick McLaughlin
Another Division I battle - Billy plays for the University of Rhode Island and calls Longmeadow Country Club home - he works as a caddie there over the summers. This is his first time playing in this championship. Nick is a Virginia Cavalier who played high school golf at St. John's Prep in Danvers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lucky 32!

After a day of wondering will it rain...will it thunder...we got through the day without a hitch! The cut line fell at +8 and we had a three-for-one playoff between John Hogan of Ferncroft CC, Chris Gentle of Mount Pleasant GC, and John Gilmartin of Indian Ridge CC.

The playoff started at 6:35 on the first hole, a tricky par-5. Gilmartin's drive found the right fringe and Gentle's the left. Hogan's drive found the center of the fairway. Gentle and Hogan found themselves in the two greenside bunkers on their second shots but were able to make par and advance to a second hole, while Gilmartin bogeyed to cut his night short.

On hole #2, it was Gentle who was dead center with his drive while Hogan found a fairway bunker. Gentle was able to two-putt for par and take the final qualifying spot after Hogan made bogey.

Check out tee times and matchups for tomorrow

We will tee off in the first round of Match Play of the 106th Massachusetts Amateur Championship at 7:30am. See you bright and early!

Let's play 2!

This place is MINT

Good morning from Kernwood Country Club! Right now there's just a light mist and it appears that the skies are starting to brighten up, which is great news because this is a big day! By the end of today, we will have our Match Play field of 32 set...and be another step closer to crowning our 106th amateur champion!

We got some great news coverage yesterday - check it out!

The Salem News
The Boston Globe
The Worcester Telegram
The Springfield Republican
The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune

Keep track of live scoring here

We'll see you in a few hours!

Monday, July 14, 2014

18 holes in the books!

A little late-day rain, but we survived! Round 1 of the 106th Massachusetts Amateur is in the books. We had some great play on this historic Donald Ross and are looking forward to another great day tomorrow! At the conclusion of play tomorrow, the low 32 scorers will advance to Match Play...and then we really get going!

Check out a few clips:

The Salem News
The Boston Globe
The Springfield Republican
The Boston Globe

It's here! It's here!

Can you believe it's already the 106th Massachusetts Amateur Championship?! So far, so good!

We have a great field of amateurs who are all looking for their shot at the Massachusetts Cup - and 300 points in the MGA Player of the Year standings! Here are some fun facts you may not know about some of our players:

Michael Ryan lists one of his greatest golf memories as: competing against the Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup team at Longmeadow Country Club prior to their matches at Essex [in 2010]

David Leary is expecting his first daughter in November. He is also an accomplished Boggle champion!

Billy Trainor once got a hole-in-one on a par 4 at Leo J. Martin Golf Course. He also shot a 65 at Oakley CC this year

Zach Ungvarsky has only missed one Championship Proper since 2005

Jack Lang was the 2013 Middlesex League MVP (he plays for Lexington High)

Jesse Morgan is a fine artist working out of Northampton, and also manages and bartends at Old Towne Tavern in Amherst

Brian Foley played hockey and baseball at Holy Cross, but not golf. He also coaches high school hockey at Springfield Cathedral

Brendan Ridge (the youngest player in the field) last month was the youngest player to make the cut at the Hornblower Memorial

Brendan Monahan's father, grandfather and great grandfather have all made it to Match Play in the Mass Amateur

Keith Smith says I have been playing for 45 years...yes, I’m old

Ben Kelly is a math teacher at Milton HS, where he also coaches golf and baseball.

Ben Balter has been playing golf since he was two years old

David Holmes will be playing in the British Amateur in August

Mike Trombley is a retired MLB player and also broke the course record at Tekoa CC earlier this year, shooting a 61

Jake Shuman has never played in the Mass Amateur before

Kevin Carey lost to James Driscoll in 20 holes in the 1996 Mass Am semifinals. 300 people watched the match - my parents, and 298 members from Charles River

The KCC grounds crew led by golf course superintendent John Eggleston (center in red)...thanks for all your hard work - the course is fantastic!
Kernwood CC is killing it with social media so far - keep track of all the action on Facebook and Twitter...and of course we will be providing you updates and original content through our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram feeds.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The countdown is on...

Can you believe that only a weekend stands between us and the 106th Massachusetts Amateur Championship? (Because we sure can't)

This year seems extra exciting. First off, the staff and board at Kernwood Country Club is over the moon excited for the championship. The amateur will be a big part of a season-long centennial celebration at the club. This Donald Ross gem was founded in 1914, boasts waterfront views from almost every hole, and is located in a pretty neat city. The course is in amazing shape and everyone that we have worked with has been absolutely top notch. Looking forward to a fantastic week up on the north shore! Check out what Kernwood put together recently - pretty neat:

For some reason, this year's championship seems like it is completely up for grabs. Anyone, it seems, could hit a hot streak and ride it all the way to Friday. 2013 champion Mike Calef is not in the field this year, as he turned professional over the winter, nor is last year's runner-up Ian Thimble (he also turned pro, and won the Mass Open last month!) Who will take the Massachusetts Cup? Matt Parziale has had a great season so far, as have Ben Spitz and Alex Stimpson. 2013 Junior Player of the Year Jake Shuman could make a run...and then there's always the ever-present threat from veterans like Frank Vana, Brian Higgins, and Ryan Riley...

You never know how a grueling week and unpredictable weather can affect a player. Match play changes everything!

This championship is by far our largest undertaking and we cannot thank those Member Clubs involved enough for their support! Our 10 qualifying sites: Red Tail GC, The Captains GC, New England CC, Dennis Pines GC, LeBaron Hills CC, Far Corner GC, William J. Devine GC, Bass Rocks GC, Highfields G&CC, and Stockbridge GC. And of course, our championship host site, Kernwood CC. We couldn't do any of this without your support!

Itching for more #massam? Check out some championship history and facts in our media guide!

Don't forget to enter our Facebook contest for the chance to win a box of MGA logo'd Titleist ProV1's! Just comment on our Facebook page with who you think will win the 106th Amateur Championship and you'll be entered into the raffle.

Until next week...cross your fingers for good weather!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Honoring the past

Well...the venue is set, the date has been selected, and we are getting ready, slowly but surely! The first ever Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame Gala Celebration is officially on the calendar! This one of a kind event will be held on Thursday, October 16 at Blue Hill Country Club in Canton. Now, I know what you're thinking: October?! I can't even think past July! But we are just so excited about this news that we couldn't wait another minute to share it. The class of 2014 - Ted Bishop, the Curtis Sisters, Joanne Goodwin, Paul Harney, Bob Toski, and Fred Wright- will formally be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

This event is going to be fantastic - we have both living inductees attending (Bob Toski and Joanne Goodwin) and are currently lining up some special guests which we can't wait to share as well! The suspense! All of the inductees - past and present - will have family members in attendance to share this special night. Since we never had a formal celebration for the original class of Pat Bradley, Fred Corcoran, Francis Ouimet and Donald Ross, this will be their night as well.

Tickets are now officially on sale! Individual tickets are $125 which includes an open bar cocktail hour and dinner. We are working with Cramer Productions to create some unique and interesting videos for each inductee, which will then be on permanent display at the Massachusetts Golf Museum here on the grounds of TPC. This state has such a rich golf history that it is high time we celebrate it in a formal setting! Join us in October for what is sure to be a great and memorable night.

Click here for ticket information

Thursday, July 3, 2014

It's a family affair

For a lot of us, the Fourth of July is spent with family...which is a perfect segue to this shameless event plug! Next Thursday is the entry close for our annual Father & Daughter Championship. This event is definitely one of my favorites - who wouldn't love to spend a day on a nice golf course playing with Dad?

This year's championship is at Wellesley Country Club - which is reason enough to sign up! Wellesley is a fantastic place. They host our annual Salute to Champions Dinner and also hosted the 2010 Massachusetts Open Championship. Such a neat, old, historic metro-Boston club. We have changed things up a bit from previous years - you can now choose which division you'd like to play in. The Championship Division will play from the green tees, which are 5,800 yards (for the daughters) and the Forward Division will play the red tees, which are 5,300 yards. The fathers will play from the white tees, which are 6,300 yards.

Read our blog post about Wellesley from earlier this year

So over the weekend while you're grilling and relaxing with family, make sure to register for this great event - everyone has a lot of fun and it's a nice way to spend some quality time together. The MGA Father & Daughter Championship will be held on Thursday, August 14. Click here for more information and to register!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Golf For All: making a difference for our bravest

We've talked about Golf For All before - the organization that is making a difference in the lives of disabled people by bringing them the game of golf. We have been fortunate enough to work closely with Golf For All on many occasions. Most recently, executive director Fred Corcoran was able to help us arrange something very special at the 105th Massachusetts Open Championship - two veterans tended the flagstick on the 18th hole during the final round. We felt it important to recognize their service and are continually impressed by the work that Golf For All and Bob Beach in particular, is doing for disabled veterans in New England.

Last month at Weston GC: L: Jack Morris, Air Force; R: Bryan Simpson, Navy
Last week, Bob Beach was recognized as a Myra Kraft Community MVP. Each year, the Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation’s Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards place a spotlight on those who give their time to help others and exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving their communities through volunteerism. Annually, the Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation host the awards program as part of the ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative in honor of Myra Kraft’s example of being a lifelong volunteer.

Bob was recognized specifically for the work he does with Golf For All. For a lot of us, golf is just a leisurely pursuit - a way to relax. For disabled veterans, it is often a way to re-integrate and feel connected to something again. So inspiring. So as we celebrate the independence of our great land this weekend, take a moment to give thanks for those who put their lives on the line for us. Thank you, Bob Beach, Fred Corcoran, and Golf For All, for giving back to our bravest citizens!