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MARION | MATTAPOISETT, Massachusetts – There was an overwhelming sense of joy with the commencement of the 112th Massachusetts Amateur Championship on Monday, as it was a moment many thought might never arrive due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Things looked different than past years. Handshakes and high-fives were replaced by fist pumps and elbow bumps, masks were needed on the range and putting green, and there no spectators. The only carts used were to shuttle players on the spaced-out holes.
But regardless, it was a banner day, featuring clear skies and a mild coastal breeze. And when first tee shots went off without a hitch at 7:30 a.m., both at The Kittansett Club and The Bay Club at Mattapoisett, it officially marked the start of the first Mass Golf Championship of the season.
“It’s a pleasure to see everybody back into doing what they love,” said Jesse Menachem, Mass Golf/Executive Director/CEO. “Things do look and feel a little bit different, but it’s nice to get back into competitive golf. We’re appreciative that we were able to get to this point and get the Amateur Championship on the schedule in its current form for what is the pinnacle of the season.”
WATCH: DAY 1 SIGHTS & SOUNDS
“It’s definitely a sense of normalcy for all of us,” added James Pleat, one of the 144 competitors in the championship field.
Each amateur golfer was split between two courses for 18 holes of stroke play. Tuesday for 18 more holes of stroke play, with the top-32 advancing to match play Wednesday at Kittansett. Jeremy Meade (Nashawtuc CC) has the solo lead after firing a 4-under 71 in the opening round.
It was a proud day for the scenic Kittansett Club in Marion, which is hosting its sixth Mass Amateur and first since 2008. A gradually increasing wind made afternoon rounds much more challenging for the later competitors.
But The Bay Club also had reason to celebrate, as it was the first time the young club (opened in 2004) hosted the Championship Proper. The parkland course is lined with fescue and cuts through dense forest and is spaced out through neighborhoods on the property. And a particularly special rule there: if you can find your ball, you can play it.
“There’s so much pride in the team, whether it’s the golf staff the food and beverage or certainly the maintenance staff,” said Greg Yeomans, General Manager/Director of Golf at The Bay Club. “The members rally around this stuff. Events like this now so there’s a there was a community pride community excitement about bringing this event in and obviously today for us.”
The following is a daily video recap and a collection of highlights as well as other information about those participating or involved with the Mass Amateur.
Jeremy Meade, 39 of Wayland, hit the exact number he needed to qualify for the Mass Amateur last month at Pocasset GC (77). In Monday’s first round of the Championship Proper at The Bay Club, he not only shot 10 strokes better, but he finished the day in the lead with a 4-under-par 67.
“It feels good but a lot of golf left tomorrow,” said Meade, a former standout for Division III Ohio Wesleyan University.
Meade knows the challenge ahead as he played his first Mass Amateur back in 1999 at Kittansett, which he described as “not great.”
Despite holding the lead, it wasn’t a perfect round for Meade, who had a few three-putts on the front nine. But after making the turn at even-par, he caught fire, making three birdies and throwing his hands up in excitement when he holed out for an eagle from about 95 yards on the par-5 11th. His shot landed left of the pin, spun right and dropped.
“It was really just hitting some fairways and greens,” Meade said. “I hit some awful putts on the front, holed a few on the back. I really just kept it out in front of me and knocked it close on a couple of holes. I sort of just hung on, nothing special.”
Meade will tee off at Kittansett at 7:42 Tuesday morning with the same playing partners, David Spitz (South Shore CC) and Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich GC).
There can be an added level of pressure when your group is the first to tee off in a championship event. But for Natick’s Andrew McInerney (Charter Oak CC), he couldn’t have planned a much better start. After hitting into the middle of the fairway on Hole 1, a 368-yard, par-4 dogleg right at The Bay Club, McInerney holed out using a 56-degree wedge, starting his round with an eagle. He followed that up with three birdies and was sitting at 5-under through six holes.
“It was definitely big to get off to a strong start,” said McInerney, a rising senior for the University of Richmond Spiders. “I know we’re going to need to low out here if you want to make it to match play, and I think this course is doable, especially with Kittansett tomorrow. It was good to get into the red as early as I could.
McInerney, a two-time state champion at Xaverian Brothers, qualified for the U.S. Junor Amateur Mass Amateur back in 2016, but this was his first Mass Amateur since 2015. After his torrid start, McInerney made bogey three times on the back nine but still finished at 3-under.
McInerney’s score matched Chris Francoeur (Amesbury G & CC), who held the solo lead after the first round of last year’s championship at The Country Club. Francoeur, a rising senior standout at the University of Rhode Island, was the top scorer at Kittansett, as he made par on the entire front nine and collected a birdie on the 11th, 14th and 18th.
“That was my first time I’d even been to the course,” Francoeur said of Kittansett. “I played more conservative than I would if I had known the layout. I just tried to keep everything in front of me.
“I’m just going to try to do what I did today tomorrow and not get ahead of myself,” he added. “I’m just gonna take it one round at a time.”
In total, 11 players shot par or better. Among them was 2017 champion Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea), who was fresh off his victory at the Norfolk County Classic over the weekend. He finished 2-under at Kittansett, starting with a birdie on the first two holes and finishing with another on the par-5 18th.
Rob Owen (The Country Club), who also has a membership at Kittansett, also finished 2-under, turning a rough start into a tremendous finish at Kittansett. After making double bogey on the first hole and finishing 2-over on the front nine, he pulled back even with birdies on holes 14 and 15 and closed it out with an eagle on the 18th.
Not only has Greg Yeomans had a tremendous amount of success in golf, for one winter he had an unforgettable experience playing college basketball for UConn during the 1994-95 season when the Huskies reached No. 1 in the country and made the Elite 8.
Yeomans, a Ledyard, Connecticut, native, got the opportunity to walk-on and appear in 17 games during his senior year at UConn. His teammates included former Boston Celtics champion Ray Allen and former pro and NBA announcer Donny Marshall. To this day, they all keep in touch, with Yeomans occasionally playing golf with both former teammates.
“I always say it was definitely the right place at the right time,” Yeomans said. “It’s nice to see those guys. Ray’s such a good golfer now, and it’s nice to stay in touch with him.”
Yeomans actually started his college career at Assumption College in Worcester and didn’t make the basketball squad there. After visiting his brother at Boston College, he knew he wanted a large college experience so after taking a year off in Florida to play golf, he enrolled at UConn. He became golf captain for three years, winning six individual tournaments and finishing the second six other times.
Winter offered a break from golf, and during that time, the 6-foot-1 Yeomans got asked to practice again the women’s basketball team, which won the national title and went 35-0 that year. One day, a men’s assistant coach approached him about possibly joining the team as a walk-on.
As Yeomans waited for word over the weekend, he staffed an exhibition as the visiting team host, opening the locker room for UConn’s opponents. In the next game, he was in uniform. He arrived early for the knee-knocking first practice, but he said he stayed humble and his teammates appreciated his hustle and dedication.
Yeomans never scored in the fives shots he attempted, only grabbing a few rebounds.
“I just knew my role,” he said. “I’d been a captain on golf so I kind of knew a little bit of the leadership pieces.”
Though he did play in an NCAA Tournament game, he said the pinnacle moment came on senior night, when Yeomans played the final minutes and the crowd chanted his name at Gampel Pavillion.
Yeomans, now a Marion resident, still takes time to coach basketball in the winter. He’s an assistant coach for Tabor Academy and coaches various other teams in the area.
But he’s still competing well in golf, most recently winning the NEPGA Pro-Assistant with John Paesani on June 29 at The Bay Club.
“My competitive juices still flow,” Yeomans said. “Everybody here knows it the members know how competitive I am.”
James Pleat (Granite Links GC) said he was a little tired entering Monday’s opening round at the Mass Amateur, and understandably so.
Less than 48 hours after winning the New Hampshire Amateur Championship, the former Dartmouth College standout teed off at the Bay Club in pursuit of another state amateur championship. Pleat, 29 of Cambridge, finished 1-over, making birdie on the fifth to pull to even before rolling in 11 straight pars. A bogey on 17 pushed him above par, but he’s still in contention to make match play.
“I think this is a great event,” Pleat, 29 of Cambridge, said. “This is my second year competing so I’m happy to be here. I hadn’t played here for a while, so I’d forgotten most of the golf course. It was good to plot my way around. I would’ve like to have seen some putts fall, but I can’t really complain.”
Much has changed since John Hadges bested fellow Thorny Lea GC member Matt Parziale in the final match of the 2008 Massachusetts Amateur at Kittansett.
Parziale, then a fresh-faced 21-year-old senior at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, has gone on to have tremendous success on the amateur level. Now 33, Parziale has won the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur, which has earned him two consecutive trips to the U.S. Open, plus The 2018 Masters, where he played a practice round with Tiger Woods.
“I’m probably smarter now then I was then,” Parziale said. “Golf is about the experience. I’ve always tried to improve whether it be physically or mentally. I feel like I’ve done a good job of just trying to keep getting better. That’s what keeps me going. I don’t like to judge 2008-to-2020, I just like playing golf in 2020 because it’s been a crazy first half of the year.”
That doesn’t mean he still doesn’t think about the 2008 match where Hadges, won the title after also winning medalist honors.
“It was a great match with John, and we still talk about it to this day,” Parziale said. “Those are memories I’ll never forget.”
Back then, Hadges was past his prime but still winning, taking the title again in 2010. He couldn’t outdrive Parziale, but Hadges had the better short game and was often set up in front of the fringe. On the 36th hole, Parziale ended up on the left edge of the green. Whereas, Hadges hit his approach to 10 feet left of the pin and sank the winning putt.
“Obviously it was great,” Hadges said. “I had been doing it a long time prior. To be honest, I thought my time had come and gone. It just kind of worked out that week. It was a beautiful week. There wasn’t a breath of air until the last five or six holes. I remember we had a great match and it came down to the last hole. I made a putt, that’s what it came down to. It was a dream come true.”
Speaking of past winners, here’s a list of how all 11 fared Monday.
2019 – Steven DiLisio (+5) (T63)
2018 – Patrick Frodigh (+1) (T12)
2017 – Matt Parziale (-2) (T4)
2015 – Nick McLaughlin (+1) (T12)
2012 & 2013 – Mike Calef (+1) (T12)
2011 – Ryan Riley (+5) (T63)
2008 & 2010 – John Hadges (+8) (T96)
2006 – Ben Spitz (E) (T8)
2004 & 2005 – Frank Vana Jr. (+5) (T63)
2001 – Brendan Hester (+8) (T96)
1981 & 1985 – Steve Tasho (+5). (T63)
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Spectators have previously been allowed to attend the Massachusetts Amateur free of charge. However, due to the Massachusetts COVID-19 Guidelines for Outdoor Competitions & Tournaments, NO SPECTATORS will be permitted to attend the event this year.
To help individuals follow along, Click Here to view Round 2 starting times.
ABOUT THE AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
This year marks the 112th playing of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. The first Massachusetts Amateur, played in 1903 at Myopia Hunt Club, was conducted for a total of 54 golfers. The championship has been conducted every year except for 1917 and 1918 and 1942-45 due to WWI and WWII, respectively. It is the oldest of Mass Golf’s Championships. Only the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur (est. 1900) has been contested for longer.
Eligibility: Entries are open to amateur golfers who have an active Mass Golf/GHIN Handicap Index at any public, private, semi-private, municipal or non-real estate Mass Golf member course/club not exceeding 4.4 (as determined by the May 21, 2020 Handicap Revision), or who have completed their handicap certification.
Prizes: The Massachusetts Cup and a gold medal will be presented to the Champion. Merchandise certificates will be awarded to the 32 Match Play Qualifiers and are only redeemable at the host site.
The individual (or individuals) who post the lowest cumulative score following the 36-hole stroke-play portion of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship will be awarded the Harry B. McCracken, Jr. – Stroke Play Medalist Award. McCracken, a longtime executive and volunteer in the New England golf community, died this past October at age 94.
Qualifying: Sectional qualifying, played over 18 holes, was conducted at nine sites across the state between June 15 to June 29. CLICK HERE for highlights from each qualifying site.
Championship Field: The starting field of 144 golfers will be cut after 36 holes to the low 32 scorers who will advance to Match Play on July 15. A tie for the final qualifying places shall be determined by a hole-by-hole playoff.
Schedule of Play
Stroke Play: The remaining 18 holes of stroke play will take place at The Kittansett Club and The Bay Club at Mattapoisett. A tie for the final qualifying places shall be determined by a hole-by-hole playoff at The Kittansett Club on July 15.
Match Play: All match play will take place at The Kittansett Club. A general numeric draw will be used. For purposes of determining places in the draw, ties in qualifying rounds shall be decided by the order in which scores are returned, except that places of those participating in a play-off shall be determined by performance in the play-off and if necessary, a blind draw.
Par and Yardage
The Kittansett Club will be set up at approximately 6,934 yards and will play to a par of 35-36–71. The Bay Club at Mattapoisett will be set up at approximately 7,008 yards and will play to a par of 35-36–71.
The Kittansett Club
The Bay Club at Mattapoisett