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After months of waiting, the PGA TOUR officially restarted its season down in Texas on Thursday. And whew, Mass Golfers won’t be far behind from beginning theirs. If you close your eyes and breathe in, imagine that freshly-cut, event-ready grass that greets you when you step out of your car and lets you know today’s going to be a good day.
From The Berkshires to Cape Cod, Monday marks the return of state-wide competition as there will be qualifying events at Marshfield Country Club, Stockbridge Golf Club and Pocasset Golf Club, with hundreds of golfers competing for spots in the Mass Amateur Championship.
ONLINE: MASSACHUSETTS PHASE II GOLF GUIDELINES | MASS AMATEUR EXEMPTION LIST | MARSHFIELD CC QUALIFIER TEE TIMES | POCASSET GC QUALIFIER START LIST | STOCKBRIDGE CC QUALIFIER START TEE TIMES | GREEN HILL GC QUALIFIER TEE TIMES (THURSDAY)
Everybody from high school seniors to, well, seniors will be battling it out to earn a spot in the Championship Proper at The Kittansett Club, a marvelous seaside track in Marion that Golf Digest has ranked in its top 100 courses in the U.S. (The Bay Club At Mattapoisett will be lending a hand for stroke play.)
Among Monday’s entries is former NHL pro and now Barstool podcast host Ryan Whitney (Old Sandwich GC), who will play in the Marshfield qualifier. Whitney, like many others, has been anxiously awaiting a chance for championship-level play ever since the USGA called off the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball — which he qualified for — along with most other national events. His playing partner Andrew DiRamio, will represent his home course in the Marshfield field. (Say “Marshfield field” five times fast.)
The field also includes Michigan-bound Jack O’Donnell (Boston GC), Notre Dame rising senior Alex Jamieson (Marshfield CC), two-time champion John Hadges (Thorny Lea GC) and two-time Mass Mid-Amateur champion Brian Higgins (Franklin CC).
Out in the Berkshires at historic Stockbridge Golf Club, you have 2003 champion Andy Drohen (The Ranch GC), as well as Kevin Quinn (Charles River CC), the last amateur to win the Mass Open. And there’s Trevor Lopez (Winchester CC), who won an MIAA state title in the fall and was a finalist in last year’s Mass Junior Amateur.
The Pocasset qualifier, taking place in one of Bourne’s coastal villages, will include Hartford University standout Ryan Tomaso (KOHR Golf), Babson College captain Bryan Eger (Kittansett), 2016 Mass Amateur semifinalist Dan Capucci (Boston GC), and then there’s Kevin Blaser (Fall River CC), who, fun fact, once made 3 aces in 24 hours.
Monday also marks the first Member Day at Indian Pond CC in Kingston. These single-day events give Mass Golfer the chance for Mass Golf to play one of many exclusive courses throughout the Bay State. And with most people relegated to their homes for the past few months, meeting new people on the golf course will feel even more like a luxury (just keep your distance).
In short, we’re finally keeping score again.
If nothing else, that’s at least one sign we’re inching back to the new normal, whatever that ends up being once the uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
But these are just the formalities in the grand scheme of things. What’s really been missing is the shared struggles and achievements that take place on the golf course, plus the joy of traveling to different clubs across the state, some familiar, some not so much.
So, here are five things we’ve missed and we’re looking forward to as we begin to gear up for the competitive season.
One final note to the players: Be safe, play well and welcome back!