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LYNN, Massachusetts – Thirteen years ago the headline read the same – Drohen Wins Amateur Public Links Championship. For the fourth time in his career and for the first time since 2007, Bill Drohen (Brookmeadow CC) is the Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Champion.
For the second straight day, Drohen shot an even-par 70, for a total score of 140. That was good enough for a one-shot victory over Daniel Falcucci (Cyprian Keyes GC) who shot 141. After two hot and sunny days at Gannon Golf Club, the championship came down to the final hole. Playing in the penultimate group, Drohen played his third shot to 8 feet on the par-5 18th hole. After studying the putt from all angles, he just missed his birdie putt, leaving it outside-right of the hole. He tapped in for par and then had to wait out the final group as they played 18.
Falcucci stepped up to the 18th hole trailing by one. And just like Drohen did, hit a tidy wedge for his third shot inside 8 feet. That shot gave him a good look at birdie and a chance to force a playoff. Putting along the exact same line as Drohen did, Falcucci missed his birdie outside-right, just as Drohen did.
Talking about the win, Drohen said “It’s pretty special, it’s been 13 years since I won in ’07. You know when you get up in your 40’s or 50’s you don’t know if you’re going to win one of these. There is so much good talent.” And he couldn’t sign off without giving a shout-out to his 10-year-old son Matthew “I have to mention my son Matthew who gave me some good advice. He’s been playing in tournaments and saying it’s just a game, go out there and have fun.” It’s probably safe to say Bill had some fun.
Rounding out the top of the leaderboard was Sam Hood (Sandwich Hollows) and David Spitz (South Shore CC) who both finished with two-day totals of 143. Hood was the talk of the morning after he made a hole-in-one on the 197-yard uphill 9th. Hood originally pulled a 5-iron, but ended up switching to a 6-iron before making the perfect swing. His ace capped off an impressive front-nine 32 that vaulted him into contention. Spitz also played well on the front nine, shooting 33, but was unable to make enough birdies on the back nine to chase down the leaders.
Playing “home games,” Robert Thomas (Gannon GC) and Jon Gagnon (Gannon GC) both finished inside the top 20.
As followers of Mass Golf know, this week’s Women’s Amateur Championship is less than 20 miles away at Essex County Club, a familiar place for Gannon Golf Club Superintendent Patrick Manning. Prior to joining Gannon Golf Club in 2016, Manning served as Senior Assistant Superintendent at Essex under the direction of Eric Richardson.
Manning had this to say about his time at Essex, “People have that mentality where if you want to be the best, you need to work with the best and (Eric’s) reputation is second to none for what he’s done over there. The opportunity for me to join Essex was just a no brainer. It was great to be a part of his staff and learn from him and how he maintains the course. The way he does it, he can have a tournament there any day.”
Leaving Essex to take the Superintendent position at Gannon GC had special meaning for Manning “The real reason I came over here was, I have a history here and my father has been a member here for close to 30 years. So I grew up playing golf here and I can remember sitting on this wall on Sunday afternoons when he’d come up nine and then going out and playing another nine in the twilight. It was kind of cool to have that opportunity to manage a golf course that you’d grown up playing on.”
Having a Mass Golf Championship at his course has been one of the highlights of the year. “We were excited to even have the opportunity to host something like this. We always strive to have the place as good as possible for the membership and the public, but knowing that we were going to have (the APL) in middle of August, made us step up our game a little bit more.”
Because of all of the changes and restrictions that have come during this COVID-19 era, the staff has been a bit shorthanded. Even with the short staff, restrictions and speed bumps along the way, Patrick Manning and his team did an excellent job preparing their course for the 39th Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship.
The Massachusetts Amateur Public Championship was created to honor the spirit of public golf in 1982. This event is limited to competitors who are bona fide public course players who do not hold membership at a private club. Traditionally, the competition takes place over a two-day period at public access facilities. Below is a list of the past 10 champions of the event.
2010 – Devin Bibeau (Quashnet Valley CC)
2011 – Scott Congdon (South Shore CC)
2012 – Andy Drohen (George Wright GC)
2013 – Ryan Clancy (Glen Ellen CC)
2014 – Herbie Aikens (Cranberry Valley GC)
2015 – Nick McLaughlin (Red Tail GC)
2016 – Matt Cowgill (Waubeeka GL)
2017 – Ben Spitz (Pinehills GC)
2018 – Owen Quinn (The Ranch GC)
2019 – Ryan Riley (Bayberry Hills GC)