Headline: Champions, Friends of Golf Come Together to Celebrate the 2015 Season at the 21st Annual MGA Salute to Champions Dinner

For Immediate Release: January 10, 2016

2015 Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year Nick McLaughlin celebrated a memorable year at Wellesley CC alongside his parents Wendy and Bill

More than 230 members of the golf community enjoyed a special evening at Wellesley CC.
Important funds were raised for The First Tee of Massachusetts through a silent auction.
The MGA extends a special thanks to its Patrons of Golf.

Norton, MA — It was an evening of celebration, and it was a true night to remember.

The 21st Annual MGA Salute to Champions Dinner was held last Thursday at Wellesley Country Club. It was an evening where more than 230 members of the golf community came together and paid tribute to the MGA champions from the 2015 season as well as the MGA and WGAM Players of the Year.

“This one could have been the best ever,” said Don Page, a longtime member at Wellesley Country Club, former MGA Executive Committee member and the event’s honorary evening chairman. “This evening continues to exceed our expectations and it is truly unique each year because of the champions who provide such emotional and genuine contributions.”

Indeed, highlights of the evening include the speeches given by each champion and special honorees whom had family and friends in attendance supporting their efforts.

While accepting the award for 2015 George M. Cohen MGA Senior Player of the Year award, Jack Kearney commented.

“I played in the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship and I had my wife alongside me and my roommate from the Air Force Academy on my bag,” said Kearney. “So to all of the young guys here tonight, I encourage you to keep playing because the game continues to give back.”

With music contributions from the Bo Winiker Band, the event was masterfully led by longtime master of ceremonies, Mike Dowling, who has missed just two Salute to Champions Dinners over the past two decades.

“The evening would not be right without Mike,” said Jesse Menachem, the MGA’s executive director. “He is a huge part of this night, and we are fortunate to consider him a part of our MGA family.”

Here are some additional highlights from the evening.

Richard Connolly, Jr. was honored with the Frank H. Sellman Distinguished Service Award. He becomes only the 15th individual to be awarded this honor since its inception in 1988. In addition to being a successful businessman and philanthropist, Connolly has proudly served the Ouimet Fund as a director, trustee and former president for more than 38 years. For the past 37 years, he has been the Chairman of the Francis Ouimet Memorial Tournament. He was a member of the MGA Executive Committee from 1982 to 1984 and currently serves on the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame Committee (click here to view his acceptance speech).

All attendees were surprised with a special congratulatory video from Connolly’s longtime friend and client Arnold Palmer. Palmer acknowledged Connolly’s many contributions and said “It is always special when the good works of a close friend are recognized in this way.”

Click here to view that congratulatory message from Palmer.

Arthur Phillips, a member of the MGA’s course rating team for more than three decades, accepted the Andrew J. Blau MGA Volunteer of the Year Award. In addition to his work as a course rater, Phillips has been an integral part of the Needham Golf Club community and was surrounded by friends and family as he received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Phillips drew a laugh during his acceptance speech when he proclaimed, "I always get asked 'what the heck do you guys do out there all day?' But in the end, what we do is a true labor of love."

Following the dinner break, Mike Dowling welcomed a quartet of outstanding female golfers to the stage to take part in a panel discussion about the 2015 season.

Included on stage were Chelsea Curtis (William J. Devine GC), Pam Kuong (Charles River CC) and Shannon Johnson (Foxborough CC) – members of Team Massachusetts which finished fourth at the 2015 USGA Women’s State Team Championship – as well as Megan Khang (Rockland, MA), the 2015 Anne Marie Tobin WGAM Player of the Year who will be making her LPGA debut later this month.

In addition to speaking about their team success, Johnson spoke about setting a USGA record while finishing as individual medalist at the USGA Women’s State Team Championship, while Kuong touched on her experience advancing to the finals of the 2015 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship.

Khang also updated the crowd on her plans to make her LPGA debut later in the month in the Bahamas (click here for a story on her debut).

Click here to view that panel discussion.

Also deserving recognition was the WGAM Junior Amateur Champion - Angela Garvin - who was on hand in Wellesley. Garvin captured the 2015 Championship Flight with a score of 149 (a two-stroke victory) at Indian Ridge CC.

The evening was capped off with a celebration of what was coined “The Summer of Nick”. Nick McLaughlin (Far Corner GC) earned 2015 Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year honors after collecting 1,050 points during just three months of competitive play. He captured five titles including the following major Championships - Massachusetts Amateur Championship, New England Amateur Championship and Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship.

Before receiving his standing ovation and approaching the podium to the tune of Superman, McLaughlin enjoyed a special and surprise greeting from his teammates at the University of Virginia.

Click here to view that special congratulations.

Representatives from some of the major golf organizations - Women's Golf Association of Massachusetts (WGAM), New England Golf Course Owners Association (NEGCOA), New England PGA (NEPGA), Connecticut Section PGA, New England Golf Association (NEGA), Rhode Island State Golf Association (RIGA), Golf Course Superintendents of New England (GCSANE), and Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund - were on hand to join in on the celebration.

Menachem took a moment to thank the MGA's dedicated Patrons of Golf - Liberty Mutual, First Republic Bank and Titleist - for their longstanding support of the organization.

He also recognized the MGA’s sponsors from the 2015 season – Tournament Solutions, Global Golf Post and Club Champion.

"We don't often have a chance to publicly thank you for your support, but the MGA is grateful to its patrons for supporting amateur golf and making evenings like this possible."

Throughout the evening, video highlights were shown from three of the major MGA Championships – Amateur, Open and Junior Amateur.

Online registration for all MGA Championships goes live on Thursday, February 4th!