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Headline: Mark and Michael Souliotis Find Their Way to the Winner's Circle; Capture Senior Division Title at the 40th MGA Father & Son Championship
For Immediate Release: August 15, 2016
Mark and Michael Souliotis won the senior division title of the 40th MGA Father & Son Championship
Plymouth, MA — Four years ago, Mark Souliotis (Haverhill CC) and Michael Souliotis (Haverhill CC) came one round from winning a state title. On this day at Plymouth Country Club, nothing was going to keep them from adding their names to the MGA history books.
The Souliotis team fired a score of 5-under par 64 on Monday afternoon to capture the 40th Massachusetts Father & Son Championship.
Senior Division Links
They finished one stroke ahead of Joe Monahan (Winchester CC) and Brendan Monahan (Winchester CC) and two strokes better than the teams of Jim Bandera (Plymouth CC) and Jack Bandera (Plymouth CC) and Howard Hunter (Red Tail GC) and Brendan Hunter (Red Tail GC).
“This is exciting,” said Mark. “It was a lot of fun.
The Souliotis name is a familiar one in amateur circles. After all, in 2012, Mark Souliotis marched his way to the finals of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. Throughout that five-day journey which ended up with Mark finishing as runner up, Michael – who was 19 years old at the time – served as his caddie.
“It’s hard not to remember it,” said Mark. “I remember so many holes so vividly and having Michael on the bag it was a great time and something that I will never forget. This is something that we have worked really hard at getting ready to play and thought that we could always win.”
This time around in Plymouth, Michael was once again by his side but the pair were combining efforts and the end result was an untouchable and victorious dynamic duo.
What makes the journey to this moment even more poignant is the fact that since 2013, Mark has been sidelined with a debilitating back injury that required surgery and kept him from touching a golf club for more than a year. In fact, Mark has been hampered with pain since his memorable run back in July of 2012.
“That summer [of 2012] was exhausting, and I was exhausted the rest of the summer,” said Mark. “Coming around the next year is when the pain really kicked in. But you know what, it’s alright. Pain is something you deal with. It happens and you live through it. I don’t regret the surgery and missing the year because it was a quality of life thing and it was good to start getting stronger. I am getting better, but I am still a little more erratic and not as straight as I had been but I am trying to get that back.”
With partial and most likely permanent numbness in his left arm and into several fingers, Mark was forced to change his putting grip. On Monday, he was happy to lean on the strength and power of his son Michael.
“I was nervous that he wasn’t going to be anywhere near the golfer that he was because of the surgery,” said Michael, a 2015 graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who now works as a mechanical engineer at Raytheon. “I was worried that it was going to affect his quality of life to be honest. It was good to see that he is starting to get stronger and find his game. It’s not that I haven’t always been there, but to come together on the same day is what happened today. To have us both play good golf on the same day for the first time in a while was huge.”
The day began for Souliotis duo on the 343-yard, par 4 1st hole where Michael almost drove the green en route to a birdie. A three-putt bogey from six feet on the very next hole did not sit well with them at the time, but it proved to be the only miscue on their scorecard.
Although Michael was quick to admit with a laugh that he “ran the first putt by on him,” his father was quick to chime in with his recollection of the four-foot par putt he missed.
“My putting stroke is just not where it needs to be,” said Mark. “It’s not competitive ready yet, so I was still nervous. I am nervous on the green, I am nervous on the first tee. It really takes me three or four holes to get the nerves out and that was just one of those shots and we ended up bogeying that hole.”
They would rebound with a birdie on the 385-yard, par 4 4th hole and then Mark came through with perhaps the key shot of the round on the 334-yard, par 4 7th hole.
After Michael sent his approach over the green, Mark used the contour of the green to land his third shot to three feet.
“It was the best chip I have ever seen,” said Michael.
The back nine was near perfection beginning with a key moment on the 392-yard, par 4 11th hole where Mark made a 25-foot downhill birdie putt.
“That 11th hole was huge,” said Mark. “We then started building momentum from that point.”
They went on to make birdie on the, 13th, 16th and 17th holes. They also made a clutch par on the final hole to secure what ended up being a one-stroke victory.
“We finished strong and that was the key,” said Mark. “We were into the final four or five holes and we had a similar thing happen before when we were in the hunt with only a few holes left and we faded… I told him that we have to get stronger, stay focused and finish these last four strong.”
And there is no question that after four long years, the definition and appreciation of strength has taken on a whole new meaning for the Souliotis family.
“It’s good to be back to playing good golf and playing with him,” said Mark. “It was a lot of fun. These are the things that you won’t forget as you get older. There are some things that you can look back on and say that they were a lot of fun. This is one of those moments”
Although they didn’t walk away with the trophy on Monday, the team of Joe and Jay Monahan are still considered one of the most dominating father and son teams in the state.
Just last month, the Monahans were victorious at the 2016 Father & Son Invitational held at Winchester Country Club. It was the ninth victory for Joe and Brendan and is the most such titles captured by any team in the event’s history.
The annual father-son tournament at Winchester Country Club is the oldest in the nation, dating back to 1919, and the dominant name throughout most of its storied 93-year history has been Monahan.
The late Judge Joe Monahan began the family legacy at that event by winning with his son, Joe, Jr. a total of seven times in 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1948, 1955, and 1958.
Joe, Jr.’s son – Joe Monahan III – continued his grandfather’s winning ways with his three sons – Brendan, Jay and Justin. Joe and Brendan hold the most titles with nine dating back to 1991. Joe won three titles with Justin and four with Jay. While both Justin and Brendan live locally, Jay currently resides in Florida where he serves as deputy commissioner of the PGA Tour and works closely with Commissioner Tim Finchem.
The three-day invitational at Winchester features the same alternate shot format as the one played this week in Plymouth.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the historic Winchester Father & Son.
This year's senior division featured 84 teams and tee times that ranged from 7:30 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. Here are some additional facts about Monday's field.
Average Age: 43.26
Common First Name: Stephen (8), David (7), Michael (7)
Youngest Player: Zachary Margarian, Nick Sexeny, Sean Ryan, Steven Tasho (18)
Oldest Player: Frank Vana Sr. (78)
Number of MGA Clubs Represented: 75
Most Clubs Represented: Plymouth CC (7), Harmon GC (5), Vesper CC (5), Brae Burn CC (4), CC of Wilbraham (4), CC of Halifax (4), Concord CC (4), Elmcrest CC (4), Haverhill CC (4), Kernwood CC (4), Longmeadow CC (4), Woodland CC (4)
Most Number of Towns: 72
Average Handicap: 4.07
Geographic Breakdown: South Shore: 48; Greater Boston: 39; North Shore: 25; Greater Springfield: 19; Cape Cod:15; Greater Worcester:14; Berkshires: 6; Non Real Estate: 2.