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FALMOUTH, Massachusetts – With daylight fading quickly, Pam Kuong (Charles River Country Club) sank the winning six-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to give her and Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich Golf Club) a thrilling victory in the newly-formated Mixed Four-Ball Championship for the Stone Cup on Wednesday at The Cape Club.
Kuong, the 2019 Mass Golf Women’s Player of the Year, and Clapp, the 2013 Mass Golf Player of the year, shot 5-under-par 63 in 17 holes of regulation (Hole 1 was not played due to construction), matching the team of Sue Curtin (Boston Golf Club) and Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC).
They ended up playing 18 holes after all, as both pairs squared off in a playoff on the par-5 10th hole. Clapp reached the green in two, and though Kuong hit into the right rough twice, she hit her approach shot to about six feet in front of the pin and nailed the putt after everybody else missed their birdie bids.
“I birdied it from almost the same sport this morning, but Doug hit two amazing shots so it freed me up to play and just get up and down,” said Kuong, who won the Stone Cup back in 2010 with Paul Heffernan.
Wednesday’s one-day tournament was the final Championship event on the Mass Golf calendar. The format was four-ball stroke play tournament with men and women playing from separate tees.
Clapp and Kuong both work in Boston, but Wednesday was the first time the pair got to play golf together. Clapp said he’s always admired Kuong’s playing abilities and has been lobbying to get an event where they could play as a team since the early 2000s.
“I’m like ‘refresh, refresh’ whenever she’s playing in a tournament and watching her move up the leaderboard,” Clapp said of Kuong. “It’s great to have people to follow and root for who you know are solid people.”
Kuong got the pair rolling with a birdie on the opening hole, the 147-yard, par-3 2nd, but the pair rallied in the middle of their round with birdies on holes 9, 10, 12 and 13 to move to 5-under.
“He made some of the most unbelievable up-and-downs [with] Phil Mickelson-style flop shots,” Kuong said of Clapp, who birdied holes 9 and 12. “I think that energizes you in the round. It was comforting to know he was always in the hole.”
“It was a good partnership all day,” Clapp added. “Luckily we only had to play the one [playoff] hole.”
Vana and Curtin were even-par through the front nine but rallied together for five birdies on the back nine, including on holes 10, 11 and 13. After Vana made his lone birdie on the par-3 16th, Curtin came up clutch on the 18th, almost propelling the team to victory. After her second shot just missed the front of the green to the left, Curtin rolled her 30-plus foot eagle putt just left of the cup and it came to rest mere inches in front. Still, she tapped in for birdie to pull even with Kuong and Clapp.
During the playoff, Curtin also reached the green in two but left herself a 40-footer from the front of the green, and she was unable to 2-putt for birdie.
“I couldn’t believe how much slower the green was compared to two hours earlier,” Curtin said. “I thought I made a good putt, but it just stopped.”
Still, Curtin said she was just flattered to play with Vana, a Mass Golf Hall of Fame inductee.
“That was a bonus coming in,” Curtin said.
“We’re all golf junkies so playing in anything is a good thing, and it’s something different, which is nice,” Vana added. “These guys were nice here, and we had a blast.”
Megan Buck (Thorny Lea GC), the New England Women’s Amateur Champion, and Herbie Aikens (Old Sandwich GC) also had a chance to make the playoff. The pair made four birdies on the front nine but gave one back with a bogey on the 10th. Buck was able to chip to about 5 feet on her third shot on the 18th, but the birdie putt just lipped out as the pair finished 4-under.
Thorny Lea’s Shannon Johnson & Steve Tasho finished 3-under, tying Allen Chase & Danielle Lee, of The International GC. Lee almost holed out for eagle on the 18th to pull into a tie, but her shot shot barely missed the hole.
Playoff – Mixed Four-Ball Championship https://t.co/S35IXlIC7y
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) October 21, 2020
Among notable names in this year’s field was film director Bobby Farrelly, who made his Mass Golf debut on Wednesday when he played alongside fellow New Seabury member Evelyn Metsisto.
Farrelly, along with his brother Peter, have directed films such as “Fever Pitch”, “Dumb and Dumber”, “Kingpin” and “Me, Myself & Irene”. But in addition to producing comedy, both brothers are also golfers. Farrelly said he’s hoping to produce something with golf as the genre.
A 10-handicap, Farrelly made a birdie on the par-5 3rd hole as his team finished with a 9-over 77. But playing alongside fellow New Seabury member Scott Nickerson and MJ O’Neill (GC at Turner Hill), there were plenty of laughs shared amongst the foursome.
Ryan Payne, the Head Golf Professional at The Cape Club, said the club will complete in transformation over the next few years.
Since new ownership purchased the former Ballymeade Country Club in 2014, it has completely transformed the golf course and clubhouse, bulldozing the old layout and installing new greens, tees and bunkers, plus reshaped fairways and installing a new irrigation system. The cart paths materials were even created using white crushed stone to match the look of the Augusta white-sand bunkers.
The course re-opened for play in 2017 as a semi-private course that is open for public play.
“We moved a lot of earth out there to make the golf course more player-friendly,” Payne said. “The old Ballymeade was a very difficult golf course. It was target golf. The fairways were very narrow, and there were a lot blind shots.”
There is still plenty of work underway. The plan is to build 28 single-family homes on the property where the old driving range once stood. Three units have already been built with the foundation poured for several more.
“The houses are selling like crazy,” Payne said.
But as part of the construction, the first fairway is being shifted and is currently only open for play as a 95-yard par-3 with a hitting matt placed in the middle. The hole was not used for Wednesday’s competition.
Part of the renovation include new amenities. In early winter, work is scheduled to begin on 80 golf villa cottages. Along with that is set to be a new fitness center, with a spa, a new pool and tennis courts.
“Within 3-5 years or so, it’s going to be more of a resort-style golf course,” Payne said.
HISTORY OF THE STONE CUP: First held in 1924, the Stone Cup Trophy was originally donated in 1927 by Katherine Stone of Oakley Country Club. Stone won the WGAM Championship in 1924 and also served on the USGA women’s committee. Past winners of the Cup include World Golf Hall of Fame member, Pat Bradley, who won the event in 1971. Mass Golf Hall of Fame Members Anne Marie Tobin (1987) and Joanne Goodwin (1955, 1978) have also won, as have esteemed past players Edith Baker, Jesse Guilford and Pippy O’Connor.
In past years, the event has used a match play format. Originally scheduled to take place in May, this year’s event was also moved to the fall and elevated from a Mixed Team Tournament to a Mass Golf Championship event using Four-Ball stroke play.
FITTING FAREWELL: Cape Cod native Scott Nickerson (The Club at New Seabury) played in what will perhaps be his final Mass Golf event. Nickerson, who has been the lead agronomist at New Seabury since 1998, is retiring within the next month and is planning to move to close to his alma mater St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, located in northern New York near the Canadian border. Nickerson, who has a tattoo on his arm of the university’s logo, played Division I ice hockey for four years for the Saints.
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS: Three frontrunners for 2020 Mass Golf Player of the Year honors were on site today. Shannon Johnson leads by 137 points in the race for the Anne Marie Tobin Women’s Player of the Year. Frank Vana, Jr. is on the verge of winning his fourth consecutive George M. Cohen Senior Player of the Year as he leads by 99 points; and Pam Kuong leads the first-ever Women’s Senior Player of the Year by 17 points.
THREE CHEERS: Earlier this year, Olivia Winchenbaugh (Oyster Harbors) raised $4,400 for First Tee of Massachusetts through participating in the first annual Mass Cup at Boston Golf Club. Winchenbaugh, a junior golfer from Weston, made her 2020 season debut in a Mass Golf event this year by shooting 3-over with Mike Collins Jr. on Wednesday. She sank the pair’s lone birdie on the par-3 11th.
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS: Jack Bohman (Old Sandwich GC) & Georgia Peirce (Eastward Ho!), who won the Stone Cup together in 2016 and 2019 finished 14th overall with a 2-over 70.
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