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Headline: The Newest Face of the NEGA - Laura Nochta - Talks About Exciting Changes in 2017 Ahead of the June 1st New Engand Amateur Entry Close Date
The NEGA Dream Team of Laura Nochta and Harry McCracken.
For Immediate Release: May 13, 2017
Norton, MA — One of the MGA’s newest employees, Laura Nochta, has had a very busy few months since joining the staff at MGA Headquarters in Norton back in February as the Manager of NEGA Operations and USGA Events.
Her new position, that coincides with the role that longtime NEGA Executive Secretary Harry McCracken has held with the organization since 1987, entrusts her with the operations of the popular New England Amateur Championship, New England Senior Amateur Championship and the annual six-team New England Amateur Junior Invitational that rotate at clubs across the region on a yearly-basis.
Additionally, the Ohio native and former Indiana Hoosiers student-athlete Nochta is charged with overseeing the nearly 20 USGA qualifiers held annually at Massachusetts courses, coordinating the volunteer base needed for each event, and new to the docket for 2017, managing the four New England Amateur qualifiers and three New England Senior Amateur qualifiers that were added to the tournament format.
Ahead of the June 1 Deadline for the 88th playing of the New England Amateur Championship, we sat down with Laura Nochta to discuss her experience at the MGA so far, what some of the changes she has experienced from a golf operations standpoint, and her overall take on living in Massachusetts for the first time.
MGA: Laura, you have been with the MGA nearly 4 months now. What has the experience been like for you so far?
LN: The experience has been a blast so far! Everything I hoped for and then some. I wasn’t sure what to expect joining this team, but everyone has been unbelievably warm and welcoming. Mother Nature hasn’t been so accommodating these first few months of my new residency, but I’m looking forward to seeing the beauty of New England this summer.
MGA: Moving from the Arkansas State Golf Association with a staff of four employees to the Massachusetts Golf Association, which holds a staff of 13 full-time employees must be a big adjustment. What has that adjustment been like so far?
LN: The support from fellow staff members has been incredible. I’ve been asking a lot of questions these last few months and everyone has taken time out of their busy schedules to help me settle in. Everyone here gives 150% and it shows. It has truly been inspiring to see the amount of work everyone puts in daily (even in the “off season”). There is always something to do or a project to work on here at Golf House. Having this large staff allows the MGA to service golfers and member clubs in the Commonwealth at a high level and it’s nice to be a part of this diverse team of talented people.
MGA: Obviously, the difference in weather is a notable change between Arkansas and the Bay State. How has that adjustment been so far?
LN: Growing up in the snow belt of northeast Ohio and playing Big Ten golf, I got use to the cold winters, but it’s been a long winter and chilly spring – I think we are all ready for a warm New England summer!
MGA: With the June 1st deadline to sign up for the New England Amateur Championship quickly approaching, can you talk about the decision to add qualifiers ahead of the respective Championship Proper’s and why the decision was made to add them?
LN: The new qualifying system mimics how surrounding state associations determine their amateur championship fields. With the continued growth of NEGA championships and demand outweighing supply, it made sense for New England Golf to make this transition. As a former player, I appreciate this process to “earn” your way into a tournament rather than being hand selected by a committee. It gives a player who may not have participated in the past a chance to compete for his way into the championship proper. Qualifiers are hosted at fantastic venues and no matter what state you are from you can compete at any of the locations – adding another perk to this new process.
MGA: What are some of the different things that players can expect from this year’s New England Amateur Championship?
LN: In addition to the new qualifiers, when competitors step out onto the course in July at Metacomet Country Club in Rhode Island, they’ll experience one of the area’s top courses that will undoubtedly be in near-perfect shape. The folks down at the Rhode Island Golf Association, who work with the Metacomet staff on a regular basis for their various championships, have a great relationship and always put on a top-notch event. With the regular crop of very talented golfers in the field, we expect the competition itself to be a memorable one, as this is one of the only events where the top golfers from each of the six-member states get to showcase their talents for three-days.
MGA: What is the best way for interested golfers to sign up for this event and which players are eligible for competition?
LN: The registration process is easy. Simply visit the NEGA website (www.negagolf.org). By selecting the New England Amateur, this page will give you information about the championship proper, eligibility, and more. This page also provides a gateway to the list of qualifying sites, as well as the exemption list for the championship. To register, select the “REGISTER OLINE” tab – shown on multiple pages of the website. This will direct you to the registration page where you will fill out your information and select a qualifying location (unless otherwise exempt – note: exempt players must still complete the registration process).
A handicap requirement of 6.4 (as of the June 1st revision date) is the main criteria for eligibility to compete in the New England Amateur. A player interested in competing in this event must have an active handicap meeting this requirement and complete the registration process by the entry deadline of June 1st.
MGA: What can competitors expect from the other two NEGA Championships this season as well?
LN: Wethersfield Country Club and Manchester Country Club are two fantastic sites. Wethersfield, CT, will accommodate a great competitive venue for the New England Senior Championship come September. Senior golf has grown tremendously in the last several years, making this championship even more exciting. The range of talent in this age group is not far from those who compete in the amateur – some players will even compete in both championships. The staff at the Connecticut State Golf Association set the bar high for their events and players can expect nothing but top notch conditions and an experience to match.
The New England Junior is a special event, where each of the New England states select seven of the best golfers from their state to compete in a team and individual competition. Manchester Country Club plays host to this year’s event and will be a great setting for what will surely be a memorial experience for all. The Vermont Golf Association is thrilled to be a part of the New England Junior this year and will showcase the best of Vermont golf.
MGA: Thanks, Laura!
For more information about the New England Golf Association visit www.negagolf.org.