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MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, Massachusetts – The 117th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship is returning to one of the most historic sites for golf in the Bay State, especially for the women’s game. Essex County Club was the sixth Member Club to join the USGA (in 1896), and when it hosted the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1897, it was the first USGA national championship held in Massachusetts.
Now the longest-tenured Mass Golf event, the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur will take place at Essex for the third time overall (1954, 1991). Beginning Tuesday, August 11, 95 of the top female amateur golfers in the state will compete at the course that Donald Ross designed while also serving as a club professional and superintendent. The home he lived in sits behind the 15th tee. Essex was also home to the Curtis Sisters — Margaret and Harriot — who won four USGA champions combined and have been inducted into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame inductees.
“Female golf is a strong part of our history,” said Jack Davis, Head Golf Professional at Essex County Club. “It’s exciting for us to open up for a week and let the best women in the state play here.”
In the past 25 years, Essex has hosted both the 1995 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and 2010 Curtis Cup. The Curtis Cup is an international team event between the top U.S. women’s amateurs and the top amateur women from Great Britain & Ireland. The trophy, a silver bowl of Paul Revere design, was donated by Harriot Curtis for the inaugural playing in 1932, giving the event its present name. Margaret Curtis also won the U.S. Women’s Amateur when it was played at Essex in 1912.
“You just can’t play Essex without thinking of things like this,” said Anne Marie Tobin, who holds the record with seven Mass Women’s Amateur titles, including her 1991 victory at Essex.
With sizable hazards, blind tee shots and greens with subtle tiers spread out throughout the course, Essex provides few to no let-up holes, forcing players to carefully contemplate each shot.
“You don’t have the luxury of maybe regrouping after a bad hole with an easy next one,” Tobin said. “Every hole is followed by a hole that’s even harder or more challenging.
“The best thing about Essex is the fact that good shots are rewarded, for the most part,” she added. “If you can stay in the middle and out of the tall stuff and below the hole, you should be able to post a decent score.”
Under the direction of Director of Grounds, Eric Richardson, Essex has removed upwards of 15,000 trees to open up the course, while also adding tees and restoring some greens and bunkers back to their original shapes. These alterations allow Richardson to set up a championship-level course.
“He primes up for these things like you wouldn’t believe,” Davis said of Richardson. “He wants to give them the best playing conditions. You can tell when you’re on the first tee that you’re playing in a tournament.
Before starting her first year at the University of Maryland, Angela Garvin (The Ranch Golf Club) became the fourth person to win the Girls’ Junior Amateur and Women’s Amateur Championship in the same year. Joanne Goodwin was the first to do so, winning the Mass Amateur at Essex in 1954, followed by Loren Milhench in 1985 and Chelsea Curtis in 2005.
In the 2019 Championship Match, Garvin defeated Anne Walsh (The Country Club), 4&3. Garvin won three straight holes (11-13), including two birdies to build a 4-up lead and finish the match by winning the 15th hole.
“Being the defending champion gives me some extra confidence, but I still look at it as any other tournament,” said Garvin, who finished 10th last week at the Ouimet Memorial Tournament. “I’m just excited to play my game and have fun.”
Walsh, who will attend Columbia University in the fall, is coming off a win in the Women’s Division at the Ouimet Memorial Tournament and a runner-up finish at the Girls’ Junior Amateur this Tuesday at Hatherly Country Club in Scituate. Rebecca Skoler (Pine Brook Country Club), who is bound for the University of Virginia this fall, won the Girls’ Junior Amateur on Tuesday, edging Walsh by a stroke. She was runner-up in the Ouimet.
Shannon Johnson (Thorny Lea Golf Club), who didn’t play in last year’s Championship Proper, is coming off her appearance at the U.S. Women’s Amateur this week where she finished 17-over and missed the cut. Johnson finished second at the 2020 New England Women’s Amateur and won the Women’s Four-Ball Championship for the Townshend Cup with clubmate Megan Buck. After winning the New England Women’s Amateur, Buck finished fourth at the Ouimet Memorial Tournament.
In total, 13 of the players who made match play in the Championship Flight are back competing this year. Among them are Pam Kuong (Charles River Country Club), who won Mass Golf Women’s Player of the Year and was a semifinalist last year, as well as former Merrimack standout Krystal Knight (Bradford Country Club) and Westford Academy sisters Morgan Smith and Molly Smith (Mount Pleasant Golf Club / Vesper Country Club).
Also returning to the field for the first time in years is Mary Mulcahy (Hatherly Country Club), a former Scituate High School and University of Central Florida standout.
For the second consecutive year, the stroke-play qualifier will include 36 holes contested over the first two days. The low 16 stroke play scorers will advance to the Championship Flight of match play on Thursday, August 13, with the semifinals and Championship Match taking place the following day. The next lowest 16 competitors will advance to the President’s Cup Flight (match play).
TUESDAY AUGUST 11: 18 Holes, Stroke Play (Starting Times Begin at 7:30 a.m.)
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12: 18 Holes, Stroke Play (Starting Times Begin at 7:30 a.m.)
THURSDAY, AUGUST 13: Round Of 16 and Quarterfinals
FRIDAY, AUGUST 14: Semifinals and Championship Match
FOLLOW THE ACTION
Per the State’s (EEA) guidelines surrounding outdoor competitors and tournaments, NO SPECTATORS WILL BE PERMITTED at any point of the championship (stroke or match play). This includes family members, relatives, members of the same household, general spectators, etc.
To help individuals follow along, Click Here to view Round 1 starting times. Round 2 starting times are available by using the drop-down menu at the top left.
This year marks the 117th playing of the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship. The first Massachusetts Women’s Amateur, played in 1900 at Oakley Country Club, was conducted for a total of 54 golfers. Grace Keyes, a pioneer for Women’s Amateur golf in the Bay State was its first Champion. The championship was held every year except for 1918 and 1943-45 due to WWI and WWII, respectively.
The Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship is the oldest championship conducted by Mass Golf.
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 14.0 – Class A (as determined by the July 23, 2020 Handicap Revision), or who have completed their handicap certification.
Prizes: Stroke Play Medalist | Low Net Qualifier – Osgood Memorial Cup | Amateur Champion – Gold medal and Championship Bowl | Amateur Finalist – Curtis Memorial Trophy | President’s Cup Champion – President’s Trophy | President’s Cup Finalist – Finalist Tray.
Championship Field: The starting field of 95 golfers will be cut after 36 holes to the low 16 scorers who will advance to Match Play in the Championship Flight. Low finishers 17-32 will advance to Match Play in the President’s Cup Flight.
Championship Format: Eighteen holes of stroke play are scheduled on Tuesday, August 11 and Wednesday, August 12 at Essex County Club. The low 16 competitors will advance to the Championship Flight (match play). Any ties for the final Championship Flight qualifying place(s) will be determined by a hole-by-hole playoff.
The next lowest 16 competitors will advance to the President’s Cup Flight (match play). Any ties for the final President’s Cup qualifying place(s) will be determined by a USGA match of cards. Competitors who “opted out” of the President’s Cup Flight will not be counted in the match play seeding.
Match Play: 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.
In the event of a tied match, (a) the winner shall be decided immediately by a hole-by-hole play-off, and (b) the stipulated round is deemed to extend to as many holes as are required for a match to be won.
Past Champions in the Field
The following competitors have been victorious at this event in the past and are a part of the 2020 Championship Proper.
Essex County Club will be set up at approximately 5,970 yards and will play to a par of 38-35–73.
Essex County Club
Most Victories: Anne Marie Tobin (7, 1988, 1991-95, 2000)
Most Times as a Host Club: 15 (Brae Burn Country Club)
Past Women’s Amateur Championships at Essex: 2 (1954, 1999)
Last Competitor to Win Consecutive Titles: Isabel Southard (2014-15)
Average Age Of Player: 34.7 years
Youngest Player: Isabel Brozena (Indian Ridge Country Club) (14 years, 1 month)
Oldest Player: Karen Richardson (Ould Newbury Golf Club) (72 years, 1 month)
Most Common Names in the 2020 Field: Morgan (3), Jacqueline/Jacquelyn (3), Emily (3), Anne/Annie (3).
Number Of Rules Officials/Volunteers: 20
Number Of Mass Golf Member Clubs/Organizations Represented: 65
Most Represented Mass Golf Member Clubs/Organizations: Nashawtuc Country Club (4), Thorny Lea Golf Club (4), MIAA (4) Boston Golf Club (3), LPGA Amateurs Boston (3).