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MATTAPOISETT, Massachusetts – Westwood native Gunther Guleserian (Blue Hill Country Club) proved that being a couple of years older can be a huge benefit. After two previous finishes in the middle of the pack at the Young Golfers’ Amateur Championship, he rose all the way to the top this year.
On Monday, Guleserian was the steadiest player in the field on the nine-hole Reservation Golf Club course and was rewarded with his first Mass Golf Championship title. After starting with a birdie, he went on to par 14 of the remaining 17 holes, including holes 2 through 11 to win the Young Golfers’ Amateur title on the 5,000-yard layout.
The Young Golfers’ Amateur became a Mass Golf Championship event in 2015 and is open to all youth golfers aged 13 and under with a Mass Golf/GHIN Handicap. This year’s field had 28 players.
Guleserian shot a 2-over 72 and won this year’s title 34 Stableford points, edging runners-up North Dartmouth’s Matthew Oliveira (Allendale CC) and Wellesley’s Aarav Lavu (MIAA) by three points. In this scoring format, each competitor received four points for an eagle, three points for a birdie, two points for a par, one point for a bogey, and no points for a double bogey or worse. Lavu and Oliveria both carded a 75, making three and two birdies, respectively.
“It feels pretty good,” said Guleserian, a former junior club champion at Blue Hill. “I was playing pretty good on the first few holes. It kind of got my confidence up. I just tried to stay there and tried to keep making pars the rest of the round.”
The players got two cracks at the nine-hole course that is separated with a freshly-paved road right down the middle leading out toward Mattapoisett Harbor.
“It was pretty tough,” Guleserian said. “It was sort of hilly and the greens were fast. There was a lot of out of bounds, like on the road here, so you had to really had hit it in the fairway a lot of times.”
Reilly Fowles (The Ranch GC), the 2018 champion, finished T4 with 30 points along with Terrence Manning (MIAA) and Drew Golden (Black Rock CC). There were also several female competitors including Aarav’s brother, Alika Lavu (MIAA), who was the highest-placing girl, finishing T14 with 23 points (83 stroke play score).
For many of the top competitors, Monday’s event was a warm-up for the next couple of weeks. Guleserian and Oliveira will both play in the U.S. Kids World Teen Championships, this Thursday-Saturday at Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club, just five miles east of Pinehurst in North Carolina.
Aarav Lavu will be playing the Boys 11 U.S. Kids World Championship from July 30-August 1 at Talamore Golf Club, just down the road from Mid Pines. Abby Zhu (MIAA), who finished 18th (20 points) at the YGA Championship, will compete in the Girls 12 U.S. Kids World Championship on July 30-August 1 at Pinehurst No. 5.
Reservation Golf Club is turning 125 years old this year, as it’s one of only a few Massachusetts Golf Clubs that was founded before 1900.
Originally a Wampanoag camping ground, Charles King bought up property at the head of Mattapoisett Harbor and built a summer home known as the Reservation. King also designed the current golf course, which has mostly kept its original design over time.
“I consider what we have is a niche,” said Richard Daprato, the President at Reservation Golf. Club. “It’s a great course older players because you can walk it, and it’s not long. It’s a great course for beginners and juniors.”
Deprato had been planning a celebration for the club which has survived natural disasters, such as Hurricane Bob (1992), which dumped water 8 feet onto the course. It’s also survived economic recessions, as membership has tripled since its lowest point of the economic recession of 2008.
But because of COVID-19, Daprato said he’s pushing any major celebration of the 125-year anniversary to next year.
Daprato still took the time to recognize his membership, which he said has been the most important part of operating for 125 years. He said membership has helped with renovation and expansion projects such as adding a new deck to the clubhouse or acquiring land that will soon be used for a bike trail currently under construction along the harbor.
“It’s a private club, but it’s a middle-class club with a lot of hardworking people that really reach out and help out when we need them to.”
Among noted members is Helen Robinson, whose handwriting became the Titleist script that is still used today. Robinson was an office secretary for Phil Young and Fred Bommer, the founders of the Acushnet Company, which is a short drive from Reservation. As the story goes, Young and Boomer asked Robinson to write ‘Titleist’ on a piece of paper, and the signature remains today. A plaque on the fourth fairway at Reservation honors Robinson’s legacy.
Peter Randazzo, a first-year Mass Golf volunteer, also played a part in bringing the YGA to Reservation GC, where he’s been a member for five years. Reservation hosted a qualifier for the Junior Amateur in 2018 and the Super Senior Amateur last year.
“We thought it’d be a great course for the kids to compete,” Randazzo said.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Since it first became a Championship event in 2015, the winners of the Young Golfers’ Amateur have gone on to have spectacular success when they get older.
Take a look at where each victor has ended up.
Thorbjornsen, 18 of Wellesley, will attend Stanford University in the fall. He won the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur and also made the cut at the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He earned an exemption into this year’s U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst.
Willett, 17 of Wellesley, a rising senior at Belmont Hill School, has verbally committed to Georgetown University. He made the semifinals of last year’s Mass Junior Amateur and the year before made the quarterfinals. In both years he had to face James Imai, the eventual champion.
Joseph Lenane, 16 of Dedham, qualified for the Mass Amateur this year by shooting a competitive course record of 65 at Green Hill GC in Worcester. Lenane is a junior at Xaverian Brothers High School. During his freshman year, he shot a one-under 70 to finish second in the Div. 1 state tournament, helping to guide the Hawks to the Div. 1 state team title.
Fowles, 13, of Northampton, has made three straight appearances in the PGA Junior League National Championships and often plays alongside his older brother, Galen Fowles. At Monday’s YGA, he tied for fourth overall with 30 points.
Robinson competed in a Mass Amateur qualifier this year and will compete in this year’s Mass Junior Amateur. He won the title last year in his first appearance in the tournament.
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