Monday, June 15, 2015

Successfully Shipped Up to Boston - Thanks For the Memories

Nearly eight months ago, Barry McNulty from the PGA Tour made a visit to Golf House in Norton. Joe McCabe, the executive director of The First Tee of Massachusetts and our junior golf leader, had a chance to speak with Barry that day and learned the exciting news.

The  Constellation Senior Players Championship was coming to Boston!

This was exciting news and – quite frankly – news that we did not expect. The buzz through our office was palpable. The PGA Tour was going to host a FedEx Playoff event (the Deutsche Bank Championship – our Labor Day Tradition) and a Constellation Senior Players Championship in our state in 2015.

We later learned that the Symetra Tour would be hosting an event at Thorny Lea GC in August. Such developments earned a feature story in our spring issue of MassGolfer magazine (click here to read that story).

The MGA was fortunate and honored to work with the operations team at the Constellation Seniors Players Championship. As the weeks and months passed, we connected with them to see how we could help. Whether it was securing volunteers, helping to organize the Tuesday kids' clinic or letting the public know that tickets were available… we were able to see first hand how much work and effort go into hosting a major event on our soil.

The end result was something for the record books. The world's top golfers came to Belmont Country Club last week and put on a show. Defending champion Bernard Langer was nothing short of brilliant with his six-shot victory.

In honor of such a monumental event, we would like to highlight just some of the other "winners" from the 2015 Constellation Senior Players Championship.

Belmont Country Club and its membership for opening its doors to a major event and making everyone feel welcome.

Joe Rotellini, executive director of the event, and his entire team for their incredible efforts managing this event. Kudos also go to Katelyn DiCristofano who was responsible for securing and organizing the 600+ volunteers.

Mike Rose, the golf course superintendent at Belmont Country Club, and his entire staff for having the course ready to go and in prime condition even after the challenging winter of 2014-15.

Brad Faxon for giving 6-year-old Ryan McGuire a putting lesson on the eve of day 1 of the event. McGuire is looking to raise money for Golf Fights Cancer at MGA Links on June 17 in memory of his kindergarten friend Danny Nickerson.

The Ouimet Fund caddies who proudly walked stride-for-stride with each professional player during Wednesday's Pro-Am.

Bernard Langer who became the first player since Arnold Palmer (1984-85) to win consecutive Constellation Senior Players titles.

The FANS who came out each day to celebrate professional golf played on a historic layout.

The local, regional and national media that converged on Belmont Country Club last week to cover such an amazing event.

The PGA Tour for making charity a key part of all of their events. The Constellation Senior Players Championship will be making critical donations to many local charities, including The First Tee of Massachusetts.

Although the event will not be returning to the Bay State in 2016 (they are off to Philadelphia), we were honored to be a part of such an incredible experience and we hope that Boston will be a future destination.

In "A Commonwealth of Golfers", John English penned that, "the introduction of golf in Massachusetts apparently took place on July 13, 1728…"

Our state has a history that is matched by few. We hope that major Tours will continue to help us create more memories.

In the meantime, we thank you for Shipping Up to Boston in 2015.

Posted by Becky Blaeser, who is now a Champions Tour fan for life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Watching the Future of the Sport - Part II of II

video
It is yet another windy day here at Black Rock Country Club. The wind has died down a bit which means - in Black Rock Country Club land - that the gusts are only topping the high 20s. It is a unique experience for everyone.

Here is the second installment of fun player tidbits.

Nick Drago is from Marshfield and cites winning back-to-back high school state championships for Marshfield High School as his best golf moment. His best score ever was a 62 at Plymouth Country Club.

Philippe Gariepy from Quebec has a very unique putting stroke. Check out the video to the right from the par-3 15th hole.

Alex Jeffers is the assistant general manager at Cape Cod National Golf Club. His best finish at the Massachusetts Open Championship was T29.

Shuvam Bhaumik is the managing director at Stone Toro Wealth Management and is playing in his first-ever Massachusetts Open Championship. He started playing golf in high school because he was “too small to play any other sport.” He grew up playing golf in Brooklyn, New York because it was “a safe haven for me and kept me out of trouble.”

Hunter Stone’s greatest golf memory is playing in the 2006 Junior World Championship and the 2007 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. His aunt was the 2014 USA Olympic ice hockey coach and his dad played professional baseball.

Greg Farland was quarterback for the University of Rhode Island football team from 1984 to 1987. He scored his first ever hole in one at the 2014 New England Open.

Nicholas Chakalis is a caddy at the Boston Golf Club He was a member of the Boston College High School class of 2014.

Kip Webber is an environmental engineer for GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. He attended Acton Boxborough Regional High School and then the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he was a Division I gymnast.

Josh Biren recently received his MBA at Babson College and is about to start working for Fidelity Investments. He attended Lincoln-Sudbury High School where he was the 2005 Dual County League Champion. At Trinity College,  he was captain of the golf team.

Michael Willock is a senior vice president at Asset Allocation Technology at Fidelity Investments, and most recently won the 2014 Southeastern Amateur Championship. He attended  Rockland High School and then Worcester Polytechnic Institute where he was a Second Team GTE All American.

Dylan Newman started playing golf when he was three years old and turned pro last December. When not playing on the pro circuit he is a DJ who specializes in bar/bat mitzvas and sweet 16 graduation parties.

Mark Purrington’s nickname is simply “pure” and has his own web site, markpurrington.com. In addition to playing golf, he is a professional drummer.

Lucas Cromeenes’ hometown is Metropolis, Illinois but he currently works in Maine were he serves as the assistant golf professional at Boothbay Harbor Country Club.

Billy Walthouse is from Longmeadow and was an Atlantic 10 All-Conference Team selection and the University of Rhode Island Player of the Year. He was a two-time Western Massachusetts High School Champion from Longmeadow High School.


Untitled Document It is yet another windy day here at Black Rock Country Club. The wind has died down a bit which means - in Black Rock Country Club land - that the gusts are only topping the high 20s. It is a unique experience for everyone. Here is the second installment of fun player tidbits.
Nick Drago is from Marshfield and cites winning back-to-back high school state championships for Marshfield High School as his best golf moment. His best score ever was a 62 at Plymouth Country Club.
Alex Jeffers is the assistant general manager at Cape Cod National Golf Club. His best finish at the Massachusetts Open Championship was T29.
Shuvam Bhaumik is the managing director at Stone Toro Wealth Management and is playing in his first-ever Massachusetts Open Championship. He started playing golf in high school because he was “too small to play any other sport.” He grew up playing golf in Brooklyn, New York because it was “a safe haven for me and kept me out of trouble.”
Hunter Stone’s greatest golf memory is playing in the 2006 Junior World Championship and the 2007 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. His aunt was the 2014 USA Olympic ice hockey coach and his dad played professional baseball.
Greg Farland was quarterback for the University of Rhode Island football team from 1984 to 1987. He scored his first ever hole in one at the 2014 New England Open.
Nicholas Chakalis is a caddy at the Boston Golf Club He was a member of the Boston College High School class of 2014.
Kip Webber is an environmental engineer for GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. He attended Acton Boxborough Regional High School and then the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he was a Division I gymnast.
Josh Biren recently received his MBA at Babson College and is about to start working for Fidelity Investments. HE attended Lincoln-Sudbury High School where he was the 2005 Dual County League Champion. He attended Trinity College where he was captain of the golf team.
Michael Willock is a senior vice president at Asset Allocation Technology at Fidelity Investments, and most recently won the 2014 Southeastern Amateur Championship. He attended  Rockland High School and then Worcester Polytechnic Institute where he was a Second Team GTE All American.
Dylan Newman started playing golf when he was three years old and turned pro last December. When not playing on the pro circuit he is a DJ who specializes in bar/bat mitzvas and sweet 16 graduation parties.
Mark Purrington’s nickname is simply “pure” and has his own web site, markpurrington.com. In addition to playing golf, he is a professional drummer.
Lucas Cromeenes’ hometown is Metropolis, Illinois but he currently works in Maine were he serves as the assistant golf professional at Boothbay Harbor Country Club.
Billy Walthouse is from Longmeadow and was an Atlantic 10 All-Conference Team selection and the University of Rhode Island Player of the Year. He was a two-time Western Massachusetts High School Champion from Longmeadow High School.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Watching the Future of the Sport - Part I of II

These photos have nothing to do with the blog, but they are still neat.
Above is the artwork of the MGA Championship staff directly in front of the clubhouse.
Here is MGA Rules Official Doug Mitchell (left) with Black Rock CC Owner George McGoldrick, Jr.
Check out the cool MGA hat that was made just for this event! The red one is only for volunteers, however.
So here we are at the 106th playing of the Massachusetts Open Championship. We are surrounded by one of the most breathtaking modern classics in Black Rock Country Club. We gaze around and keep thinking... am I looking at a future PGA Tour or Champions Tour star?

The answer might be yes if you take a look at the list of past champions and consider that many of these touring pros are just waiting for their big break. Just think about Jon Curran and Jim Renner. Just a few years ago they were in this field and wondering what their future might hold.

The future held a PGA Tour card as both competitors made the show and used this State Open as a stepping stone. In fact, I clearly remember sitting across from Jon Curran when he said that his game was "almost there." He has already made $800,000+ during his rookie PGA Tour season... I believe that he was 100% correct in his assessment.

Since it is impossible to cover every single competitor (all 150 deserve a feature story of two, believe me!), we decided to give you a glimpse into the lives of just some of them who graciously took a moment to tell us about themselves. This will be Part I... Part II to come tomorrow following the second round of play.

Read and enjoy...

James Smith is a Dartmouth College graduate who notes the following as his most favorite courses to play – Black Rock Country Club, Kittansett Club and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. 

Benjamin "Ben" Conroy finished T3 at the 2015 Cape Cod Open. He turned pro in 2013 and didn't take long to make his mark as he fired a course record 65 at Torrington Country Club during the 2013 Connecticut Open. He finished tied for second in that event. In addition to golf, he is also a skilled pianist!

Eric Dugas has plenty of frequent-flyer miles as he currently competes on the PGA Tour Latin America where is stands in the top 15 on the money list. One year ago, Dugas was one of four who advanced to a playoff at the Massachusetts Open Championship. His best score posted was a 61, and he turned pro in 2005.

He may be an amateur on this day, but Chris Wiatr just graduated from the University of Connecticut and is planning to turn pro this coming fall. His best finish in 2105 thus far was an impressive third place at the Russell Palmer Cup held in Connecticut.

Chris Gentile is playing in only his second career Masachusetts Open Championship, but one year ago he advanced to the Round of 16 at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. The Lowell native said that he picked up a club at 11 months old and started playing in tournaments at 9 years old. He currently works at the pro shop at Mount Pleasant Golf Club.

Kevin Gately has scored two holes in one in his career, one at the age of 10 and then his second six years later. He is a Ping DIV 2 All regional standout for St Thomas Aquinas College where he competed at the 2014 NCAA Div II Championship.

Charlie May graduated from Masconomet Regional High School in 2013. He was named the 2012 Division 2 Boston Globe Golfer of the Year. He currently attends Elon University, but cites his best moment in golf as winning the 2011 MIAA Division 2 High School Individual State Championship by making a 10-ft birdie putt on the 1st sudden-death playoff hole. He is very interested in numbers and statistics and keeps several Microsoft Excel documents on his computer that keeps track of his golf performance, including one that has every round he has played since 2009.

Brian Higgins won the 2010 New England Amateur Championship, but says that the most important fact about him is that he is the father of three beautiful daughters ages 13, 11 & 6. He is also a small business owner who enjoys the time he gets to spend with his family and on the golf course competing in tournaments.

Jason Short is not only a fine golfer but he finished in the top 10% of his graduating class at Marlborough High School, who will be playing for the University of Rhode Island in the fall.

Brandon Parker lives in Auburn and he is the current head men's and women's golf coach at Assumption College. He turned pro in 2011, but is currently in the process of applying for a reinstatement of his amateur status. His best golf moment in golf was making five birdies in a row during Monday qualifying at the 2012 Web.com Tour Miccosukee Classic. He is writing a book.

Pete Weatherby is an assistant golf professional who claims that he currently lives in a haunted house in Plymouth. His highlight from 2015 is that he has "yet to break a club", and he would rather "be fishing".  Pete will be here all week, folks.

Dan Woodbury is from Upton and currently attends Virginia Tech University. He has scored two holes in one, but one was at 9:00 p.m. in the pitch black back in 2012.

Dave Houghton is the oldest competitor in the field at 70 years old. He is also a retired US Navy Captain (thank you, Dave!). He was a member of the Brown University men's golf team from 1963 to 1966, was a professional golfer from 1993 to 1995. One year ago e won the 2014 Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship.

Michael Carbone is from Brewster and currently is a pro golfer and a caddy at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, FL. A graduate of Nauset Regional High, Carbone has been a pro for 13 years and has claimed many impressive titles including the 2009 Rhode Island Open, 2011 Maine Open and 2014 Brooklyn Open champion.

Chip Johnson is the head golf professional at Hatherly Country Club whose best finish at this event is second. He has been married to Pamela Kerrigan, LPGA Tour Player for eight years. His brother  
Kevin Johnson is also in this week's field.

Philip Cardwell is a teaching professional at Sankaty Head Golf Club. He is a testament of courage as he is blind in his right eye. He has survived three brain tumor surgeries.
There are many more player highlights to come tomorrow... what a group!

Posted by Becky Blaeser, whose hoping these articles will be printed in Sports Illustrated when these guys make it big.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hail to Our Seniors

On Tuesday afternoon, the temperatures had dropped into the mid-40s and the rain which had begun nearly 36 hours previously was still coming down as if a faucet was left wide open in the skies above.

From the comfortable perch of the MGA media center at Pembroke Country Club, we watched as more than 100 dedicated senior amateurs made it around the course. The same was happening 10 miles away at the sister course of Indian Pond Country Club.

Each competitor walked to the scoring table one after another with rain still dripping from every part of their rain suits. They feverishly tried to find a dry spot on their paper scorecards to write in their final scores.

Meanwhile on the 12th green, I saw two MGA officials taking turns standing alongside the green. When there was a break between groups, they would run to the green surface, push any standing water over the back of the green so that the next group could proceed. They began this tag-team operation during the early morning and did not stop until late afternoon.

Throughout the entire day, there was not one complaint or one foul word uttered. In fact, it was amazing how jovial and downright positive the atmosphere was. A total of 118 teams – many of whom traveled upwards of two hours to compete at the MGA Senior Four-Ball – came prepared with everything including great attitudes.

Instead of going home or asking for another tee time, we heard the following.

“You can’t change the weather.”

“It could be worse.”

“Tomorrow will be better.”

“The courses held up great.”

And remember that each and every one of those players and rules officials had taken a day off of work or a day away from their home and loved ones to be there. It’s not what you would think of when you envision a free day but there they were… wet, cold and playing and officiating golf in some of the worst conditions possible.

But what happened at the MGA Senior Four-Ball was special. And special is a perfect word for the sport of golf.

Regardless of one’s age, gender, skill level or even the weather outside… golf brings people together and unites them in a way that helps build lasting friendship and true character.

I did not have the opportunity to play golf when I was young, but I did play plenty of soccer. I can honestly say that memories of the days playing in what felt like puddles up to my knees and snow covering my cleats are clear today as they ever were. I have no recollection of being cold or unhappy. I just remember enjoying the game I love.

Golf is our game and the love for it was evident this week.

It seems only fitting that we take a minute to watch a fun video produced by the USGA called, "A Lot to Love About Golf

So we could not go one more minute without saluting the competitors, the rules officials and the staff at every club that was open on Monday and Tuesday. Your heart and love for the sport is inspiring, and we hope that everyone will look back with a chuckle and say “Remember that day when we played in the…”

Those are memories for a lifetime. Thank you for letting us be a passenger on your journey this week.

Posted by Becky Blaeser, who marveled at the toughness of the competitors but was comfy under her eight layers!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Toasting to Firsts, Farewells & the Future


Networking, top-notch speakers and cocktails on the patio of The Country Club. What a great first MGA Speaker Series Event!
Firsts are always scary, but they are also the pathway to great opportunity.

Last night, the MGA partnered with First Republic Bank to host the organization’s first-ever MGA Member Speaker Series event. Representatives from the MGA, First Republic Bank and a group of MGA golfers came together at The Country Club.

The goal of the event was to allow Bay State golfers to come together, network with fellow members and learn more about important and relevant issues. The first event focused on the state of the real estate market.

It was incredible! Three outstanding speakers provided us all with the latest market trends. Rene Rodriguez and Eric Shabshelowitz from Cabot & Company joined Deb Taylor – founder & president of LINK – and touched on the history of the real estate market here in Massachusetts, spoke about how the Boston market compares to others and provided helpful hints for those looking to invest or purchase homes and property in and around Boston.

One highlight was an interactive discussion about the future of Boston housing market and the neighborhoods that are undergoing the biggest transformations. It was fascinating to learn about Mayor Walsh’s plans for the city and that more than 72 construction projects are already underway, of which 60% are residential!

Special thanks to Cabot & Company’s Paula Luccio who was on hand (did you know that Paula’s father was the one who was behind the emergence of the condo market in Boston?), Andy Wiles and Lindsay Harlow of First Republic Bank for coordinating the event and The Country Club for being such a great host.

While everyone enjoyed the evening, there was a bitter-sweet component as we took a moment to toast the MGA’s own Erin Engelson, who was enjoying her final day as a member of the MGA staff.

Erin began with the MGA two years ago as a USGA Boatwright intern. She has since been a key player with our member services and communications team. We can’t thank Erin enough for her great work – especially all of her outstanding blog postings – and wish her the best at her new position with the Marathon Sports marketing team.

We also wanted to thank Scott Guild, who also recently left the MGA to pursue some exciting professional opportunities. Scott was the one who was in his car traveling to every part of the state to assist our Member Clubs with the GHIN Handicapping program. We could not possibly begin to count the number of miles he logged over the past eight years or the number of calls he fielded whether it was day or night.

While it’s always sad to see valued staff members leave, we are truly a family at the MGA and family never leaves.

From our staff to our Executive Committee members to our more than 200+ volunteers to our Member Clubs to our huge network of golfers that now number 84,000… we consider us all one big family and we look forward to meeting many of you.

Let’s make a pact to continue to connect whether it be through our weekly emails, our Championship Program, Members Days, The First Tee of Massachusetts and now through this MGA Speaker Series.

We are excited to serve your needs. We are and will always be MGA FAMILY!

Posted by Becky Blaeser, who is missing her colleagues but excited about new adventures to come!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Reward your golf-loving dad this Father's Day!

There's a lot we can thank our dads for, especially if he was the one who helped us develop a love for the game of golf. So what better way to celebrate dad than rewarding him with this fantastic offer from Club Champion?!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR FATHER'S DAY GIFT

If you're unfamiliar with Club Champion, you should definitely check them out! The company is based in Chicago and opened their Boston-area location last year. A visit to Club Champion is more than your average shopping experience:




Visit Club Champion at 924 Great Plain Ave. in Needham - your dad will love it!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

'The future looks bright for golf'

Can you believe that The Masters is already next week?! A sure sign of better weather to come. But before we get there, a lucky group of young people will have their moment in the sun at Augusta National. The Drive, Chip & Putt national finals are this Sunday and our fair state is well-represented with THREE participants!

Here are some fun facts about our DCP participants:

-The best piece of golf advice Joey Lenane ever received was: 'Have fun!'
-Joey would serve the following at his Masters Champions Dinner: 'Steak, lobster, and pasta'

Also, if you want a good cry, check out this short profile that The Golf Channel put together on Joey: http://www.golfchannel.com/media/drive-chip-and-putt-meet-joey-lenane/

-Conner Willett thinks that the hardest part about golf is: 'To come back after a bad hole'
-Conner said the best club in his bag is his putter and he always plays ProV1's
-Conner would serve the following at his Masters Champions Dinner: 'Steak and creme brulee'

-Molly Smith would serve the following at her Masters Champions Dinner: 'I would start by serving RobinTales with Pigs in a Blanket and spinach and artichoke dip for our appetizers. Prime rib with baby back ribs and mashed potato. Dessert would be cookie cake or grasshopper pie ice cream from Sullivan Farms ice cream parlor.'
-Molly's favorite part about golf is 'Seeing how much better I'm getting'
-Molly (along with her dad, Phil) is a defending MGA Champion! They won the 2014 Father & Daughter Championship - Forward Division at Wellesley Country Club last August.

Meet all the Drive Chip & Putt finalists

Be sure to catch these three talented junior golfers compete in the national finals on Easter Sunday at 8:00am on The Golf Channel! And follow all the action on Twitter:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

And so it begins...kinda

This is not an April Fools gag - it's the 'official' start of the golf season here in Massachusetts! So why does it look like this outside...

The 9th fairway at TPC Boston
Although, to be fair, this is about a billion times better than it was just a couple weeks ago!

So what does April 1st mean for golfers? Simply put, you can start posting scores for rounds played in Massachusetts now, and they will count toward your Handicap Index.

And in an exciting development, we will soon be rolling out MGA MembersNow! - a program that allows golfers to sign up for and renew their GHIN number online (with participating MGA Member Clubs). Up until now, renewing your GHIN number for the season meant making a special trip to the Pro Shop to pay your fee in person. But now, you'll be able to do it online! We hope to have this program up and running within the next week or two, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, who is open for public play today??

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What a great day for golf!

Last Friday was the first ever Massachusetts Golf Day. This event, held at the Massachusetts State House, was a celebration of our industry's huge economic, social, and environmental impact.


We were lucky enough to be joined by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito as well as many legislators, aides, and State House staff members. Everyone had a great time!



Delicious We Are Golf Cupcakes thanks to Ceysa at Nom Cupcakes! The golf balls are chocolate!!

Extra special thanks to the NEPGA Professionals who volunteered their time to give lessons to our legislators! And thank you to all who came out in support of this multi-billion dollar industry!

Now if we can just get some warm temperatures, melt the rest of this snow, and get out on the course!

Click here to learn more about the Massachusetts Golf Industry

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Let's make a day of it!

Ok, we get it. It's hard to think about golf right now. But in just two weeks, Bay State golf industry leaders will be looking ahead to warm weather at Massachusetts Golf Day!



The Alliance of Massachusetts Golf Organizations released an Economic Impact Report last year and this event is the culmination. The event will bring together state legislators, golf industry leaders, reps from some major brands, and special guest, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

As golf enthusiasts, you probably have some idea that golf is an influential business here in Massachusetts. But I bet you didn't know that our little industry, with a total size of $1.7 billion, generates a total annual economic impact of $2.7 BILLION...that's almost enough to fix the MBTA! Ha ha...too soon?

You probably also didn't realize that the golf industry here supports 25,500 jobs which generate nearly $800 million in wage income! This number includes not only golf-specific jobs like pros and supers, but also hospitality positions at each club, positions in major golf manufacturers like Callaway Golf and Titleist, and positions in golf retail.

Oh and did you know that we give back to charity as well? The biggest golf event that takes place here in Massachusetts - the Deutsche Bank Championship - has raised more than $24 million for charity since its inception. The Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund will award $1.6 million in scholarships next year. And The First Tee of Massachusetts uses the game of golf to help children develop into wonderful people. All told, the golf industry in Massachusetts gives back $74.3 million annually.

And the craziest thing about these numbers is that our golf season is what...6-8 months if we're lucky? But our total impact is more than all other spectator sports (football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer) COMBINED!

So think warm thoughts. We will be celebrating this great game in two weeks and hopefully will be PLAYING this great game shortly thereafter!

Click here to learn more about the Economic Impact Report and Mass Golf Day

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Championship Sneak Peek: The Mass Amateur

Another historic championship, another awesome club. Ho hum.



Just kidding! We are so excited to bring our oldest and most venerated event, the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, to Oak Hill Country Club in Fitchburg. Oak Hill is plenty historic, but surprisingly has only hosted this event once before! The club, officially organized in 1921, has hosted the Mass Open six times in its history, as well as a handful of other MGA, NEGA, and WGAM Championships.

The story of Oak Hill goes back nearly a century and is similar to many of our most historic Member Clubs - a group of friends who loved golf wanted a place where they could play and socialize. So ground was broken on a new Wayne Stiles-designed nine-hole golf course in May of 1919, with the club open for play on July 4, 1921.

And then came along our old friend Donald Ross. Oak Hill hired him in 1925 to design a second 9 holes, which opened in 1927 with an exhibition match between Tommy Armour and Johnny Farrell. The membership liked Ross's 9 so much that they hired him again the following year to re-design the original 9 holes.

The first tee at the 1935 Mass Open at Oak Hill: (L-R) Champion Gene Sarazen, Dave Hackney, Jesse Guilford


From a 2007 Worcester Telegram article:


Oak Hill Country Club in Fitchburg is scheduled to host the 2011 Massachusetts Open and the 2015 Massachusetts Amateur and the members plan to make the course better than ever before then. 

Ron Pritchard, a Donald Ross restoration expert, is preparing a master plan to update Oak Hill. Ross designed Oak Hill’s back nine, which opened in 1927, and later renovated the front nine, a Wayne Stiles design, which opened in 1921. 

“Most of what he’ll do,” Tom Bagley, a former Oak Hill president and current member of the grounds committee, said, “is try to restore as much of the lost character as he can, but making allowances for the fact that the golf ball is going farther than it ever had and repositioning tees and perhaps adding a bunker or two.” 

The master plan will need board approval and work may not begin for a couple of years, but it should be finished by the 2011 Mass. Open. Bagley figures another 200 yards could be added to stretch Oak Hill beyond 6,800. 

Bagley has begun research for a book celebrating the club’s 100th anniversary and he has found documentation that Ross visited Oak Hill in 1925. As many as 400 Ross designs are dismissed as courses Ross designed on paper, but never visited. Courses where Ross was known to have been directly involved in construction are considered superior to courses where he wasn’t, Bagley said. 

Ross returned to Oak Hill in 1935 when Gene Sarazen won the Massachusetts Open and Ross was presented with a medal by the Massachusetts Golf Association in recognition of his Mass. Open title 30 years before. Sarazen won the second Masters earlier that year and made his famous double-eagle on the 15th hole. 



Circa 1926 - the original clubhouse with golfers on the Wayne Stiles-designed 5th green



After a fire destroyed the clubhouse in 1941, the members rebuilt, with the structure of the 1942 clubhouse still standing today. Though the interior of clubhouse has been renovated and brought into the 21st century, you can just feel the history in a place like this - just think of the names that have played at Oak Hill and been through the clubhouse: Ouimet, Guilford, Sarazen, Bishop, Zaharias...some heavy hitters for sure!

And in just a few short months, Oak Hill will host the state's best amateur golfers for five grueling days of championship golf. Who will take the title this year and add his name to our impressive list of past champions?

Qualifying for the Massachusetts Amateur Championship begins on June 4 and wraps up on July 1.

Click here to read a MassGolfer feature on Oak Hill from 2011

Click here for Championship History


Friday, February 13, 2015

Leading the charge

Inspired by USGA Handicap Week, we decided to pore through our MassGolfer Magazine archives for some content. While Championships are the 'pretty' part of our business, a lot of people don't realize that without the Handicapping and Course Rating departments, we wouldn't have much of a reason to exist. These two services are by far the most important and highly utilized member services that we provide.

Back in 2007, we published a feature story called 'How (and why) We Rate.' Did you know that the MGA created the first ever Course Rating System all the way back in the 1920's? We truly were at the forefront of the movement to make the game of golf more equitable (and more enjoyable) for golfers of ALL abilities.

Well we know how Handicapping factors in, but how does a Course Rating work in tandem with handicapping to help make the game more equitable? Using slope ratings established as part of the Course Rating process, 'a golfer's handicap established at one course is adjusted for another course. The result: handicap portability and equitability.'

So how does your course handicap work? Well we've explained that as well!

So once this snow ever melts and you get back out on the course, take a moment to appreciate the work that is done by your friendly Course Raters.

And if you don't have a Handicap Index, you should get one! Out of the 25 million people that play golf in the United States, only about 3 million of them have a Handicap Index. Well that is just ridiculous. You're leaving all these Member Benefits on the table! Establish your index with us this season! With a GHIN number and an active index held at a club in Massachusetts, you can play in outings, your buddy's Member-Guest Tournament, MGA events, and more. And you can also track your progress and take advantage of the many benefits that we provide to our Member Golfers!

If you have questions about obtaining a GHIN number, please contact Scott Guild at sguild@mgalinks.org.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What's your handicap?

Did you know that this week is USGA Handicap Week? Handicapping is one of the most important services that we provide to our individual members and Member Clubs. The USGA Handicap System allows golfers of all skill levels to compete on an equitable basis...and have fun while playing! And isn't that the most important thing?

The active Handicapping season in Massachusetts begins on April 1st...we're almost there!

There are so many resources available to help you learn more about why handicaps are important. Check out what the USGA has to offer by clicking here.


Additionally, we are joining forces with the USGA to host a Handicap Seminar at Pleasant Valley Country Club on March 25. This seminar, which is invaluable for club personnel and especially Handicap Chairmen, is open to the public. Scott Guild, our director of handicapping, will be staying after the formal portion of the seminar to host an informal Q&A where attendees can ask anything and everything.

Stay up to date with all the resources presented during Handicap Week by searching #USGAHandicapWeek on your social networks. Only a few weeks until we can start posting scores again!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Championship Sneak Peek: The Mass Open

Instead of looking outside and seeing this:



Wouldn't you like to see this?


Well in just four short months (aka an ETERNITY), you will be able to! Let's not even talk about the fact that I had a dream last night that it was snowing the week of the Mass Open...


But I digress. The 106th Massachusetts Open Championship will take place at the very scenic Black Rock Country Club in Hingham. While Black Rock may not enjoy a long and storied history, having been founded in 2002, it is a pretty neat place and a club that we are thrilled to bring one of our most historic events to - there are so many interesting and different elements on this golf course that will definitely challenge our best players.

Did you know that Black Rock is situated within a rock quarry that was active as recently as 1998?! The owners of the land selected Brian Silva to create a championship caliber golf course among this unconventional piece of land. Silva has designed some of the Bay State's most acclaimed new courses, including Cape Cod National and Renaissance. Silva knew he had a challenge on his hands but wanted to incorporate the natural elements of the rock quarry. What he ended up with was ranked in GolfWeek's 'Top 100 Modern Courses.' But this project may not have come to fruition without an owner like George McGoldrick.

The story begins in 1992 when George McGoldrick moved to the south shore. Though he loved the area, a key attribute was missing and that was the ability to play a golf course nearby. The private clubs had a ten year plus waiting list, leaving McGoldrick and his friends little option but to drive for an hour just for the opportunity of playing a five hour round at a crowded public course.

As a developer, McGoldrick appreciated that the high end demographics of those around the greater Hingham area thirty minutes south of Boston supported a golf course. The rub was where to find a block of land big enough for both a course and real estate component. McGoldrick became aware of a 200 acre rock quarry that recently traded hands and was presently owned by Jim Read. Of course, a rock quarry presented all kinds of construction challenges but it did have one benefit: other parcels of land around it were available for sale as no person or business voluntarily elects to locate beside an active rock quarry!
Now it is one of the most sought-after residential golf course developments in eastern Massachusetts. It is really interesting to read the story of how this course was built (in the words of Brian Silva):

Finally there are 18 holes on paper.And in the best situation – and I had the best situation at Black Rock – there is a guy like George McGoldrick who sticks with you. Without that, the majority of the paper holes have no chance of becoming golf holes on a site like this. And it keeps going along – some holes fit land in a good way – 7, 16, 2, 9, 12, 14, 15 – while others are what the hell can be done to make this a golf hole! I need as good a client as I can ever find to make it work type of golf holes. Some holes jump at you off the background map – some you recognize walking the land – some finally become golf holes about five minutes before you seed them.

Click here to read the entire article on Golfclubatlas.com. 

So hang in there - we'll get through this winter together! Soon enough we'll be teeing off at Black Rock. It will be hard to beat the excitement of last year, with a four-man playoff, but I think Black Rock is up to the challenge! Do you think Ian Thimble will defend his title? Or maybe we'll see an amateur champion for the first time since 1999!

Left: The Commonwealth Cup, given to Low Amateur; Right: The Clarence Cochrane Memorial Trophy, given to overall champion


Qualifying rounds for the Mass Open begin on May 4th at Longmeadow Country Club and wrap up on May 27th.

Monday, January 26, 2015

One step closer!

Well unless you've been living under a rock the last few days, you know what's coming. While you're stuck in the house starving to death because the supermarket shelves were bare by the time you got there, why not plan out your 2015 MGA competition season?



Online registration for 2015 MGA Championships will open a week from Thursday. That's right. A. Week. From. Thursday. Can you believe it?! (Because we kind of can't.)

And the lineup of Championship Proper and qualifying sites we have is a little ridiculous. We spend a majority of the season in Central Mass - with highlights being a trip to the historic Oak Hill CC for the Amateur Championship, and the Amateur Public Links Championship at the scenic Red Tail GC. Mid-Amateurs will face the challenging greens of Marlborough CC, and the Juniors will be tested on Hopkinton CC's layout.


The courses that have stepped forward to host qualifying rounds aren't too shabby, either! We've got Willowbend, Tedesco, Dedham C&PC, Plymouth, Concord, Brae Burn, and Turner Hill, just to name a few.

But before we even get to these sites, we have something pretty cool lined up for the Four-Ball Championship. We will spend two days in the city of Boston at George Wright and William J. Devine! This will be a great way to kick off the 2015 season in the greatest city in America.


And the biggest development of all - starting this year, the Open Championship will be truly OPEN. Now, amateurs from ANYWHERE (as long as you have an active USGA GHIN number and meet eligibility requirements) can try for their shot at the historic Massachusetts Open title at Black Rock Country Club.

So while you're snowed in the next few days, get excited! Plan out your 2015 golf schedule! Click here for the complete 2015 Championship Schedule

Friday, January 9, 2015

Another one in the books!



Another MGA Salute to Champions Dinner is in the books! The prevailing theme of the night was the importance of family and friends. We couldn't help but be reminded of what Paul Harney's son said back in October at the Mass Golf Hall of Fame Gala - golf brings good people together. It seemed like every champion that took the microphone had glowing things to say about the support of their loved ones. It was truly an awesome night at Wellesley Country Club.

Click here to view event photos

We were lucky enough to have Megan Khang in attendance - in case you didn't know, she's pretty good at golf. At age 17 she has already competed in national championships and represented our country on an international stage. And she's hilarious! Check out this short Q&A that we featured last night:



We also had our state amateur champion in attendance. John Kelly gave us a week to remember up at Kernwood Country Club in July, and we can't wait to see him come back in 2015 and defend his title at Oak Hill!


We cannot thank everyone enough for making the 2014 season a memorable one! See you in a couple months!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Drum roll please...

Happy 2015 everyone! Can you believe it? We're sad to see 2014 end - we had such a good time! Finally at number 1 on our top 14 of 2014, but before we get to that, 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
3: Herbie Aikens breaks through at the Pub Links
2: John Kelly and a Saturday finish at the Mass Am

Now without any further wait, here's NUMBER 1!

There's nothing more exciting than a playoff. Well at the Massachusetts Open Championship this past year, we had a FOUR WAY playoff. One amateur, one new professional, and two seasoned pros. 

The playoff featured some familiar faces - as the lone amateur, Matt Parziale was trying to become the first amateur player to win this event since Kevin Quinn in 1999. Ian Thimble, born and raised in Boston, had just turned pro after a runner-up finish in the 2013 Mass Amateur. Rounding out the foursome were Eric Dugas, a longtime Cape Cod professional, and Kyle Gallo, 2011 Mass Open Champion.


The playoff began on the tricky 16th hole - a driveable par-4. The only one that laid up and didn't try to drive the green was Thimble; coincidentally he was the only one that made birdie on that first playoff hole. That set him up for the putt of his young career on 18:



This was definitely an exciting three holes for the gallery, but even more exciting (obviously) for Thimble, who was born and raised in Boston. And even though Matt Parziale didn't come out on top, his strong performance in this event sort of paved the way for an incredible season en route to his second MGA Player of the Year award. We can only hope that the 2015 Mass Open at Black Rock CC will be as exciting!

Click here for the final round story




Well it certainly has been an incredible year for the MGA. We can't wait to see what the 2015 season holds for all of us!

Have a great New Years Day, everyone!