Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let's play 2!

Before you head out for your New Years Eve festivities, check out the runner up in our Top 14 MGA Moments of 2014! But of course, a quick recap:

14: Team Titleist takes the Four-Ball
13: Dave Houghton proves that age is just a number
12: Colin Brennan's auspicious professional debut
11: A marathon playoff at the Senior Four-Ball
10: Two unbeatable families
9: Graham DeLaet joins our juniors for an ice bath
8: Jack O'Donnell's playoff bomb
7: Matt Naumec's come from behind victory
6: A very exciting Mid-Am finish
5: A brand new MGA Championship
4: Celebrating the past and the future at the MGHOF gala
3: Herbie Aikens breaks through at the Pub Links

Number 2 is a biggie! Brand new champion, Saturday finish, amazing golf course - it's all there!

The state amateur is far and away our biggest event. A unique and grueling test of golf, this championship crowns the very best after five long days.

Well in 2014, it was SIX days - thanks to Mother Nature, we had a Saturday finish for the first time in recent memory. And it sure was an exciting finish.

With a large gallery of spectators and perfect playing conditions (finally!) the relatively unknown Kelly took on Doug Clapp, the 2013 MGA Player of the Year. Kelly entered the final match on a tear, having played 10-under-par golf over the past 30 holes, but Clapp wasn't ready to concede quite yet. I'll let our videographer, Don Coyne, tell you all about it:

Click here to read the final round recap!

Click here for the Mass Am photo gallery

This was a fantastic, exciting final round between two tough competitors - definitely worthy of our number 2 moment of the year. Happy New Year everyone! We'll see you tomorrow to unveil NUMBER 1!

A breakthrough victory at number 3!

It's New Years Eve! Which means we're only one day away from number 1! But first we have to get numbers 3 and 2 out of the way. Before we get into it, here's a recap:

14: Team Titleist takes the Four-Ball
13: Dave Houghton proves that age is just a number
12: Colin Brennan's auspicious professional debut
11: A marathon playoff at the Senior Four-Ball
10: Two unbeatable families
9: Graham DeLaet joins our juniors for an ice bath
8: Jack O'Donnell's playoff bomb
7: Matt Naumec's come from behind victory
6: A very exciting Mid-Am finish
5: A brand new MGA Championship
4: Celebrating the past and the future at the MGHOF gala

How about number 3!

Didn't we say that Herbie Aikens would make another appearance on this countdown? Well he checks in at number 3 with his breakthrough victory at the MGA Amateur Public Links Championship in August.

We all knew Herbie was a great player, but he could never seem to capture that elusive first individual championship. Well he must have been eating his Wheaties down in Harwich because he posted an impressive 8-under par 136 to edge out Billy Van Stratum by one stroke. 

The last few holes of the final round were pretty exciting, and 18 was made even more exciting by this masterful shot:

In front of a gallery of all his friends, with his dad on the bag, Herbie sank the putt and finally claimed that elusive first individual championship!

This definitely opened the proverbial floodgates for Aikens, as just a month later he captured his second straight MGA Championship!

Check back later today for number 2!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

5 and 4 comin' at ya!

Only two days until the new year! What's your resolution? Our immediate resolution is to finish this countdown! We're down to numbers 5 and 4 on this frigid afternoon. But first a recap:

14: Team Titleist takes the Four-Ball
13: Dave Houghton proves that age is just a number
12: Colin Brennan's auspicious professional debut
11: A marathon playoff at the Senior Four-Ball
10: Two unbeatable families
9: Graham DeLaet joins our juniors for an ice bath
8: Jack O'Donnell's playoff bomb
7: Matt Naumec's come from behind victory
6: A very exciting Mid-Am finish

And now, number 5!

It's been a while since we introduced a new championship to the roster, but the guys were definitely clamoring for this one. We must have underestimated the demand, because in no time we had filled the field for the first ever MGA Super Senior Amateur Championship, and had a healthy wait list.

Thanks to the good folks at Cohasset Golf Club, we were able to expand the field from 80 to 120 and get everyone in. And what a great day it was down at Cohasset! First of all, the scenery there is stunning. A great Donald Ross at the beginning of the fall, as the foliage is just starting to turn - can't get much better than that.

The last time we added a new championship to the schedule was 1997 with the introduction of the Senior Four-Ball, but the last time we added a new individual championship was way back in 1984 with the Mid-Amateur. 

And a quiet, humble guy named Peter Brumme - who has only been playing golf for 10 years, mind you, joins names like Donald Ross, Arthur Lockwood, and William Blaney as competitors who captured inaugural MGA indivudual championships.

With his victory, Brumme joins the prestigious company of Donald Ross,Arthur LockwoodRaymond Ouimet,William BlaneyDon Reycroft and Peter Drooker who all captured inaugural MGA individual championship titles.
"I'm not like them, but it still feels great," said Brumme, who began playing competitive golf in 2004. "I have been doing this for about 10 years now and this is the first time that I have won."
He was able to accomplish this feat under blue skies but often gusty conditions in Cohasset. On a classic Donald Ross layout that measured 6,140 yards, Brumme carded two birdies and three bogeys en route to his 1-over par score. It was an especially strong score given that the entire field managed just 96 birdies and the average score was 84.
"The putter was working," said Brumme. "I birdied the first hole and missed a few putts but made three more and that is what I needed."
Following his opening birdie on the 372-yard, par 4 1st hole – a downhill slider that he was “glad hit the hole” – Brumme would go on to make the turn at 1-over par 37. While his fellow competitors fell back, Brumme remained strong.
He carded his second birdie of the day on the 267-yard, par 4 13th hole and then gave it back quickly with what proved to be his final bogey of the day. He finished his round with four straight pars to secure a two-stroke margin of victory.
“I played as a kid and then I had a family and a job so I only just started competing in MGA events when I was 55,” said Brumme. “When I heard about the Super Senior I was very happy because I turned 65 last month. It was perfect timing."
And next year, the Super Senior Amateur Championship will be expanded to a two-day event and will take place at the beautiful Bass Rocks Golf Club.



And number 4, ah number 4. What a night it was. It had been more than a decade since we had inducted anyone new into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame, so a real celebration was in order! On October 16, we inducted six new members into the MGHOF and it was a celebration indeed. We were incredibly privileged to have three living legends in attendance - Pat Bradley, Bob Toski, and Joanne Goodwin, and they did not disappoint. 

From Pat Bradley's welcome address, to the family members of all inductees enjoying memories of their loved ones, to Joanne Goodwin making the crowd laugh with her funny stories, it was a fun, emotional, and inspiring night for all in attendance. Can't wait to do it again in two years!

See you tomorrow as we break into the top 3!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

A double dip - getting down to crunch time!

Whoa, there's only three days until 2015! When did that happen? Well since we're running out of time let's double dip today - presenting number 7 and 6 in our top 14 moments.

But first, a recap of course:

14: Team Titleist takes the Four-Ball
13: Dave Houghton proves that age is just a number
12: Colin Brennan's auspicious professional debut
11: A marathon playoff at the Senior Four-Ball
10: Two unbeatable families
9: Graham DeLaet joins our juniors for an ice bath
8: Jack O'Donnell's playoff bomb

With number 7 we'll stay with the Juniors. 2014 marked the centennial year of the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship [click here for Junior Am history] and the championship's final round did not disappoint. Matt Naumec came into the final round 5 strokes off the lead but was able to take the title with a blistering back-9.

Concord, MA — One hundred years ago, the Massachusetts Golf Association introduced a special event in order to give youngsters “their day”.
On Wednesday under perfect conditions at Nashawtuc Country Club, Matthew Naumec (CC of Wilbraham) enjoyed hisday by capturing the 2014 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship. It marks the first MGA Championship title for the 17 year old from Wilbraham.
“This morning I was looking at the board and saw the list of the past champions,” said Naumec. “I said to myself that it would be sweet to have my name up there and it came true.”
Today’s performance was especially meaningful for Naumec who just one year ago finished second overall. This time around, Naumec entered the final round five strokes back of the leader, but capped off a stunning come-from-behind win by playing his final five holes at 3-under par.
“I knew coming into this back nine that it was gettable,” said Naumec, who finished with a third-round score of 2-under par 70. “I knew I needed to make one or two birdies and I was able to do that.”
Naumec began his run to the top of leaderboard by reaching the 502-yard, par 5 14th hole in two and two putting for par. On the very next hole, he pulled his drive but – like most champions – enjoyed a fortuitous bounce off a tree. He took advantage of Lady Luck and knocked his approach to 20 feet and made that birdie putt.
He would go on to lip out for birdie on the 16th hole from 10 feet and then make a key par on 17 which set the stage for a dramatic finish on the 505-yard, par 5 18th hole… a hole where Naumec had made birdie twice before.
“I reached it in two yesterday and felt comfortable there all week,” said Naumec. “I heard it was a hard hole but I tried to attack it.”
Although his drive sailed right, Naumec set himself up for an 80-yard approach from the fairway. His third shot landed six feet from the hole. With friends and family gathered around the perched green, Naumec sank the putt.

We will celebrate the BC-bound Naumec next week at our Salute to Champions Dinner - not only did he win the Junior Amateur, but he was also named the 2014 Junior Player of the Year.

Number 6 brings us to another MGA championship - the Mid-Amateur at Blue Hill Country Club, and a final stretch that was exciting, to say the least.

Herbie Aikens entered the final round at Blue Hill with a three-stroke lead over Ben Spitz - but Ben wasn't going down so easily! As the pair approached the 16th tee, Spitz had pulled ahead by one stroke. But a bogey on 16 followed by an Aikens birdie on 17 was making everyone sweat as the duo teed off on 18...and things got even more interesting when this happened:

But Ben was unable to capitalize, while Herbie made an incredible 5 to secure his second MGA Championship of the season! 

The road to the winner’s circle was not an easy one as Aikens had to fend off a challenge by Ben Spitz (George Wright GC), who entered the final round three strokes back but managed to pull ahead by one stroke with just three holes remaining.
“This one was really nerve wracking,” said Aikens. “I haven’t won a lot of individual titles so I had never been in a situation where I had a three shot lead. I tried to make sure that I didn’t play differently, but I did and I got a little nervous and my putting left me for a while… and Ben was playing awesome and putting on the pressure on top of it, so it was definitely a mental battle out there.”
Aikens won the battle of the minds down the stretch.
Spitz missed the green on the 16th hole to the left and then pushed his six-foot par putt past the hole. Aikens then made his third birdie of the day on the 17th hole thanks to a wedge approach that landed three feet from the hole.
“I knew we were even and I had been feeling like oil was leaking all over the place and the wheels were falling off,” said Aikens. “I pulled my focus together and hit a really good shot off the tee and then felt really good about the wedge. Even though it was in between yardage for whatever reason it felt good.”
Nerves returned on the 18th tee as Aikens hooked his drive into a native area. His punch-out shot rolled into the heavy rough, which opened the door of opportunity for Spitz who found the middle of the fairway with his drive.
Spitz was unable to capitalize. His approach landed in the greenside bunker and his third shot rolled 20 feet past the hole. Aikens, meanwhile, hit a phenomenal approach to 30 feet right of the hole.
“I almost made a big mistake on 18 but that was probably one of the best 5s I have ever made in my life,” said Aikens, who secured the victory after both players two putted for par. “I was in some real, real bad stuff and I was lucky to get a club on it. Then I got buried in the rough and to even get it on the green was pretty good, so I was happy with how I finished.”

Tomorrow we'll bring you numbers 5 and 4 - we have a feeling Herbie Aikens will make another appearance in this countdown somewhere...

Have a great Monday everyone!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A BOMB for number 8!

We hope everyone had a fantastic, restful, food-filled holiday! As we inch closer to 2015, we can't forget about the rest of our countdown. We are up to number 8, which is pretty darn amazing. But first let's recap:

14: Team Titleist takes the Four-Ball
13: Dave Houghton proves that age is just a number
12: Colin Brennan's auspicious professional debut
11: A marathon playoff at the Senior Four-Ball
10: Two unbeatable families
9: Graham DeLaet joins our juniors for an ice bath

And now, on to number 8!

2014 was the final year of the Boys Division at the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship - next year, the boys get their own show! But that means that a 12-year-old from The Kittansett Club had quite the gallery for his moment in the sun.

First of all, let me just say that these 12- and 13-year-olds play better golf than I could ever dream. But we're getting off topic here.

After shooting a first-round 70 at Nashawtuc, Jack O'Donnell ended up in a sudden-death playoff with 13-year-old David Rogers of Willowbend. As the pair approached the green on the first playoff hole, Jack had visions of an awe-inspiring putt in his head:

Jack O’Donnell (The Kittansett Club) played out his boyhood dream on Wednesday afternoon when he sank a 50-foot birdie putt on the first sudden-death hole to capture the Boys Division title.
Although it was not the 80-foot putt to win the Masters that has played through his mind for most of his 12 years, it was a moment that he won’t soon forget.
“I was thinking going into playoff that I just wanted to make a par and see what would happen,” said O’Donnell, who turns 13 in September. “I was trying to lag that last big putt and fortunately it went in.”
It was a putt that veterans could only dream of making as O’Donnell - with poise beyond his years - sent his third shot on the 502-yard, par 5 1st hole to the back of the green. With his opponent – David Rogers (Willowbend) – on the green in four and facing a challenging downhill putt, O’Donnell was simply looking for a par to place the pressure back on Rogers.
What he delivered was so much more.
O’Donnell struck his putt with confidence and watched as it gained speed down the hill, found the subtle break in the green and then dropped into the bottom of the hole.
It was especially rewarding for O’Donnell who entered the final round with a two-stroke lead after posting a 2-under par 70 on Tuesday. Rogers evened the score heading to the 18th hole, but O’Donnell had a chance to win in regulation but watched his par putt come up inches short. 
“I knew I had to make that putt to win, but it fell just short,” said O’Donnell. “I tapped it in and went to the playoff.”

And what happened next was simply a dream fitting for a new MGA Champion.

Can you imagine being 12 and experiencing this incredible moment?! I don't think we've heard the last of Mr. O'Donnell. Certainly a moment worthy of number 8 on our Top 14 Moments of '14.

We'll see you tomorrow for number 7!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A chilly number 9!

Well since it's going to be unseasonably warm the next few days, we need to provide the chill ourselves. We'll do that with number 9 and the Ice Bucket Challenge!

First, let's recap where we are in the MGA Top 14 Moments of '14:
14: Team Titleist takes the Four-Ball
13: Dave Houghton proves that age is just a number
12: Colin Brennan's auspicious professional debut
11: A marathon playoff at the Senior Four-Ball
10: Two unbeatable families

And now, number 9!

The week of the Deutsche Bank Championship is kooky town around Golf House. But luckily for us some of the players take time out of their crazy schedules to visit with local junior golfers. This year Graham DeLaet had a fun idea...check it out:

You might recognize the kids dumping the water on Mr. DeLaet - MGA Linksters! What a fun day these kids had - earlier in the day they participated in the Deutsche Bank Championship Skills Challenge at MGA Links with Cobra/PUMA, then they got to head over to TPC and do this! Definitely a top 14 moment.

And here's a shameless plug: if you donate to The First Tee of Massachusetts by the end of the month, you're automatically entered into a drawing to win a Titleist 915 Driver! Could be a nice late Christmas present! Click here to learn more.

We hope everyone has a stress-free Christmas eve (easier said than done, right!), and a wonderful, relaxing, food, family, and fun-filled Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Can you say Dynasty?

We're cracking the top 10! We've got a double-dip for this one, with two of the most fun events of the year - the Father & Daughter and Father & Son Championships.

Before we get into that, let's recap what we have so far for the Top 14 of '14:
14: Team Titleist takes the Four-Ball
13: Dave Houghton proves that age is just a number
12: Colin Brennan's auspicious professional debut
11: A marathon playoff at the Senior Four-Ball

And now number 10!

While the Father & Daughter and Father & Son Championships are a heck of a lot of fun for all involved, they also draw some pretty darn good golfers! The champions of both events have built a bit of a reputation for being unbeatable in their respective events.

At the Father & Daughter at Wellesley, John and Mary Mulcahy made it a ridiculous five in a row! Mary has some serious game - she competed in the 2014 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship and has been a perennial contender in WGAM Championships. She currently plays on the golf team at the University of Central Florida.

Wellesley, MA —For a mind-boggling fifth year in a row, the team of John Mulcahy(Hatherly CC) and Mary Mulcahy(Hatherly CC) captured a divisional title at the Massachusetts Father & Daughter Championship.
The Mulcahy duo carded a score of 6-over par 77 at Wellesley Country Club on Thursday to claim the Championship Division title as their own.
The Mulcahys have not lost at this Championship Proper since 2010 when Mary was just 15 years old but the road has never been an easy one. In three of the five years – including 2014 – the duo has captured the title by just one stroke. And despite the string of recent victories, John still can’t forget the championship of 2009 when he sent his 7 iron into a hazard on the final hole to finish T2.
“All I had to do was hit it onto the green and we probably would have won it,” said John. “It was a really long winter thinking about that shot, but to win it again today for a fifth time really feels good.”
On this day, the title looked to be in jeopardy through nine holes as the Mulcahys made the turn at 4-over par 39 and were several shots off the lead.
They capped off the front nine with a birdie – the lone one of the day – on the 425-yard, par 4 9th hole where Mary – from just left of the green – chipped to two feet for a tap-in birdie.
“That got us going in the right direction,” said John. “Through the first eight holes we made five birdies and then after that we were one over. For most people the scores were higher on the back, but that was a big birdie for us and then we got up and down on a few holes and kind of settled down.”

And at the Father & Son at Willowbend, the affable Drohens took the title for the second year in a row and the third time in the past five years. Both Jim and Bill are MGA past champions - Jim in the Senior Amateur and Bill in the Amateur Championship. Both fierce competitors, they always look forward to this event where they can get out on the course and enjoy each other's company.

Mashpee, MA — For the third time in five years, the team of James Drohen (Bradford CC) & Bill Drohen (Brookmeadow CC)walked away from theMassachusetts Father & Son Championship with more than a smile.
The dynamic duo continued their success on the links together by capturing the senior division title at Willowbend to claim the Lester and Peter Oppenheim Trophy as their own.
With their latest victory, the Drohens have now won the senior division title three times – 2010, 2013 and 2014. Only three other teams (see below for the history of this event) have won the title more times since the event was introduced in 1977.
Included in that esteemed list areFordie & Fordie Pitts, Jr. (1984, 1986, 1988, 1990), Joseph & Jason Cook (1987, 1989, 1995, 1998) and Dick & Jim Salinetti (1997, 1999, 2000).
“I looked at the web site last night and saw the names of the teams that have won three times and it includes names like Salinetti, Cook and Pitts,” said James. “That is quite impressive company, so it looks like we need to come back and win a fourth title.”
Whether they won the title or not, the Drohens would be back. This is an event that they look forward to competing in together each and every year. With Bill now working as a full-time teacher and a father to two young children, the opportunities to play 18 holes together are not as plentiful as they used to be.
“It’s nice to win, but whether we received these trophies or not we would not miss this tournament,” said Bill. “We get to play maybe two or three times per year, but nothing is better than playing together.”
James – the 2003 Massachusetts Senior Amateur Champion – echoed his son’s feelings.
“It is perfect day at a perfect place,” said James. “We enjoy each other’s company and look forward to the opportunity to spending this time together.”

And we've got some great sites lined up for next year's Father & Daughter and Father & Son Championships - do you think the Mulcahys and the Drohens will extend their winning streaks?

And stay tuned this week for number 9 in the countdown! Have a great Sunday night everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

11 is a doozy!

We thought we were going to have to turn on all the car headlights to finish this one!

Number 11 brings us back down the Cape last May for the Senior Four-Ball Championship, and two teams that just would not quit. We went to FIVE playoff holes between the teams of Keith Smith/Dave Turgeon and Bob Linn/Jim Hosey. I guess Smith and Turgeon really liked it at Bayberry Hills and wanted to keep playing, because everytime we thought it was over, we were on to another hole.

This playoff went so long our photographer had to leave! So we were left with this when all was said and done -------->

Much better left to the professionals!

Thankfully Keith and Dave were on-site at Oyster Harbors for the Senior Am and we were able to redo the trophy shot:

What a difference a season makes!

So it only took 5 extra holes, but Smith and Turgeon were able to put away the championship. This is what makes golf great - so unpredictable! Read the event recap here.

Stay tuned as we break into the TOP 10 this weekend!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A hole in one? On to number 12

I hope you've all been waiting with nervous anticipation for number 12 in our list of the 14 Best MGA Moments of '14!

You would assume that a guy like Colin Brennan, who has been golfing his whole life, has collected a hole-in-one or two over the course of his golf career. But you know what they say about when you assume...

Let's rewind back to the 2014 Mass Open at Weston GC. First round, hole #3.

(He discusses the hole-in-one during the first 20 seconds of the video...he seems pretty even-keeled, eh!)

First hole-in-one at the Mass Open - not too shabby! And not something we see too often. That front-9 eagle helped him post a first round 68. Colin went on to finish T8 in the championship during his professional debut.

What will number 11 be? Tune in later this week...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lucky #13

This year we introduced a brand new event to the schedule - the Super Senior Amateur Championship, which took place September 8 at Cohasset. Because of that, we eliminated the Super Senior Divisional Championship from the MGA Senior Am. But that didn't stop one 70-year-old from putting his foot on the gas pedal and holding off the field en route to his first MGA Championship.

Introducing, ladies and gentlemen, the #13 best MGA Moment of the year: Dave Houghton's Senior Amateur win at Oyster Harbors.

Houghton, who plays out of The Captains GC in Brewster, claimed his first individual championship - at 70 years young - with a fantastic first round score of 2-under on Oyster Harbors' venerated Donald Ross layout, and then coasted to a three shot victory on day 2.

He could not win a super-senior division title this year, so Dave Houghton (Captains GC) went ahead and claimed the overall prize.
At the age of 70 years old, Houghton captured the 2014 Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship on Tuesday at Oyster Harbors Club with a two-round score of 2-over par 146. It marks his first individual MGA Championship title.
“It is nice to have finally won an individual trophy,” said Houghton, the fifth oldest competitor in the field this week. “I have won numerous things in the past, but it means a lot to win the State Senior Amateur and get my name on there with all of those great players.”
“I am exhausted, but it’s really great,” said Houghton. “It means everything to me.”
Houghton posted what he called an “exceptional” round on Monday to jump out to a two-stroke lead over the field. He backed that up with some impressive play on Tuesday, while the rest of field struggled to handle the frequent gusts of wind and the treacherous Donald Ross greens.
Helping his cause was that – for a second day in a row – Houghton got off to a fast start. On day one, he was 4-under par through his first six holes en route to a 2-under par 70.
One day later, he made birdie on the 4th and 6th holes to go 2-under par for the day. That early burst helped Houghton weather a tough stretch of holes where he made three bogies and one double bogie on his next six holes.
“I three putted 7, 8 and 9 so that was a shock,” said Houghton. “I couldn’t seem to get the ball to go in the hole. I was looking at everyone else around me, and I was a couple of shots up so I said come on let’s get it going on the back side.”
A birdie on the 480-yard, par 5 16th hole – his final birdie of the day – allowed him to cruise to a three-stroke victory over Steve Camara (Ferncroft CC)Gary Palmer (Segregansett CC) and William Boucher (Framingham CC), who finished T2.
“The greens were just so difficult to keep the ball on,” said Houghton. “I never seemed to have the right club in my hand, but I made some good up and downs."
He most certainly did that and much more. And a result of his effort this week he has solidified himself as the most super senior of all.
“I love the golf course and love to play on the Cape,” said Houghton. “it’ great to be here with all of these guys and compete with them.”

Coming at ya early next week: number 12! Have a good weekend everyone!