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Headline: A $5 Million Investment By Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Renovation Breaths New Life Into Ponkapoag Course #1
For Immediate Release: June 29, 2016
|Ponkapoag GC was a perfect site and host for the MGA APL Qualifier.|
Canton, MA — With the summer golf season in full swing, the MGA’s Championship schedule sees various qualifiers being held nearly every day.
On Wednesday, it was two qualifiers taking place in Canton and Hyannis for the Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship - which is scheduled for August 8-9 at Waubeeka Golf Links - which took center stage.
But for Ponkapoag Golf Course, located within the Blue Hills State Reservation in Canton, Wednesday not only marked the first of six qualifying sites for the 2016 MGA APL, but it was a sign of new beginnings at the historic Donald Ross-designed course.
That’s because it was the MGA’s first Tournament event to be held at the course since it officially reopened in October 2015. With more than $5 million invested by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Ponkapoag was able to make improvements and repairs that had closed sections of the course dating back to 2003.
“Everyone is happy about it,” said Bob Rundlett, one of Ponkapoag’s two golf professionals. “It’s a difficult course, and it is going to attract better golfers.”
Rundlett added that in the months since reopening back to a complete 36-hole facility, “the course has continued to receive positive feedback.”
The improvements to one of the two 18-hole courses on the site are the result of flooding that caused damage to sections of the course. In 2003, holes 3 through 8 and 11 through 13 on Ponkapoag Course #1 were damaged and closed for use. In April 2014, golf course architect Brian Silva spearheaded the project which saw the course, one of the oldest public courses in the United States, return to its original 1936 design.
Among the work that took place over the 18-month construction period to Ponkapoag Course #1 was the removal of hazardous trees and invasive overgrowth, improvements and installation to the drainage and irrigation system, reconstruction of all tees and restoration and reshaping of all bunkers.
Other work included repairing the damaged holes – the result of flooding in 2003 – and a new water retention pond for irrigation built along hole No. 13.
As much as Ponkapoag GC is happy to be completely functioning again, the MGA is just as grateful to be able to return to the site for Wednesday's qualifier.
On Wednesday, 76 players competed for the 19 spots that were up for grabs at that site for the Championship Proper.
“The MGA has enjoyed a very strong relationship with the DCR and Ponkapoag Golf Course for many years, and it is a privilege to have Course #1 back on our Championship schedule for state-wide competitions,” said Jesse Menachem, the MGA's executive director. “The investment and renovation of the golf course has been very well received since last fall, and the 77 competitors vying for a spot in the MGA Amateur Public Links Qualifier will enjoy a great test at the storied - and newly restored - venue. “
Having a state qualifier at Ponkapoag has not only had a positive response from the MGA, but staff at the course say there are lasting results that they hope will continue the growth of the course.
“When you have an event like this people, some people haven’t played here in 15-20 years,” said Rundlett, who has is in his fourth season working at Ponkapoag. “When they come back and play it, they talk to their friends and communicate their positive experiences. As a result, we get more people coming here, which is also positive.”
Together, the MGA and the Commonwealth are excited for the opportunities that expanding the public golf scene in the state provides for the sport at a whole.
"Ponkapoag Golf Course has played a significant role in expanding recreation opportunities for all citizens of the Commonwealth," said Matthew Beaton, secretary for the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs at the time of the official reopening in October 2015. "With these improvements, the more than 60,000 annual visitors will be able to enjoy Course #1 as Donald Ross envisioned it in 1930."
The MGA hopes this is just the beginning for Ponkapoag’s two courses to be considered for local, regional and national events in the near future.
To learn more, CLICK HERE to view the Mass.gov Energy and Environmental Affairs page.