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HARVARD, Massachusetts – This year’s Massachusetts high school state championship for fall golf might go down as the only one of its kind. Without a traditional MIAA postseason tournament, this year, competitors from all divisions came together to compete in the 18-hole Massachusetts High School Golf Championship on an unseasonable-warm 70-degree Sunday at Shaker Hills Country Club to determine a state champion.
All 104 players had a Handicap Index below 8.0 or a 9-hole scoring average of under 40.
Dan Brooks a senior at Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Dudley, was in the second wave of players to tee off, but his 2-under-par 70 held up as he won the event by one stroke. Brooks, who started on hole 10, made a key five-footer for birdie on the 9th to edge runner-up Josh Lavallee, a senior at Central Catholic High School.
“It’s a great cap to the season,” said Brooks, who made the Round of 16 at the Mass Junior Amateur Championship back in August. “The title has a nice ring to it. Obviously, the season’s been shortened, but this is a great replacement. I’m glad I got to play.”
Brooks, a member at Dudley Hill Golf Club, had a similar experience with Shaker Hills last year as he won the NEPGA Junior Championship with the same score of 70. The Siena College commit said he knew it was a tough course, and the main challenge was keeping it in play.
“It was playing short so I had short clubs in, and I made my wedges count,” said Brooks, who made five birdies, including the par-3s on holes 6 and 13.
Lavallee, who won the Division II individual state title in 2018, was the only other player to go under par as he made birdie three times. He said placing highly in a tournament with players from all divisions was a huge accomplishment.
“I think I’m just proud with how I played today,” said Lavallee, who said he’s planning to take a post-grad year in Florida to focus on golf.
As an added bonus, the top 10 finishers and ties (13 players total) earn an exemption into the 2021 National High School State Championship at Pinehurst (NC) in the spring.
Liam Gill (Wayland HS; Marlborough CC), Alex Landry (St. John’s Prep; Andover CC) and Jack Moy (Sutton HS; Pleasant Valley CC) all shot even-par 72 to finish T3, and Cade Cedorchuk (Andover; Andover CC) and Ryan Cote (Greenfield HS; CC of Greenfield) each carded 73s.
Molly Smith (Westford Academy; Mt Pleasant GC), the low female of the competition, shot a 74 finish T8 with Aidan LeBlanc (St. John’s Prep; MIAA), Ethan Doyle (Salem; MIAA), Spencer Scali (Belmont; Bayberry Hills GC), Mason Dumas (Monson; Quaboag CC), and Galen Fowles (Northampton; The Ranch GC). Smith, who has qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball with her sister, Morgan Smith, was 3-over through her first nine but rallied by making birdie on holes 5 and 7.
Event organizations were quick to praise Shaker Hills owner Fred Curtis and head golf professional Andy Jordan for opening the course to high school players from across the state. The original event was scheduled to be played the week prior in the midst of a weekend snowstorm, but Curtis and his team made sure the event was able to take place the following weekend.
“It’s like rags-to-riches story; first the kids had nothing, and then they ended up with a historical and championship,” said Curtis, who has owned Shaker Hills since 2012.
The Shaker Hills property sits on over 250 acres of rolling terrain and spectacular views, especially during the foliage. Observation binoculars have been placed on several high points on the course, including by the pavilion near the par-3 6th and even on the top deck of the clubhouse.
Since Curtis purchased Shaker Hills, the course has undergone significant renovations, including the shifting of the driving range to be nestled between holes 10 and 18, and the expansion of hole 18 into a 550-yard, par-5 dogleg with a green perched right up against the clubhouse.
In the past decade, Shaker Hills has hosted qualifying for the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship as well as the 2014 Mass Public Links Amateur Championship.
But on a warm, sunny November day, all the course’s scenic elements were on full display for some of the best high school golfers in the state.
“I think it’s not just the scores, as much as this beautiful day that we had and the excitement that was in the air,” Curtis said.
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