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DUXBURY, Massachusetts – On Wednesday at Duxbury Yacht Club, 68 competitors from across the Bay State descended on the South Shore for the second Mass Golf Women’s Championship of the season – an 18-hole stroke play tournament featuring four classes broken down by players handicap indices.
The B, C, D & E Championship – which originally dates back to 1951 when it was introduced as part of the former Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts – has since grown to become one of the largest women’s amateur championships in the state.
Competing in a field of 18 competitors with a handicap index between 14.1 -18.0, Meredith Dunn of Westwood took the top-spot on the leaderboard for her class, finishing at 17-over par to claim the Class B title.
A year removed from winning the event in her inaugural appearance at Hopkinton Country Club in 2017, the 57-year old from Westwood was back looking to defend her title at Duxbury Yacht Club.
“Second time in a row. Very exciting,” said Dunn following her victory. “I really didn’t think I played well enough to do it. I’ll be honest. The par-3’s ate me up. I doubled at least two of them.”
Despite not playing to a level that she thought would be enough to repeat, the Walpole Country Club member Dunn did in fact do just enough to come out on top, edging runner up Karen Ammerman (Highfields G&CC) by one stroke.
After making par on the second hole, Dunn was able to settle down as she approached the turn – making par on the 470-yard 8th hole and following suit by carding a three on the par-3 9th hole.
On the back half, Dunn – a CPA by trade – tallied two birdies on a pair of par-5’s that ultimately allowed her to leap the leaderboard.
Her first birdie of the back nine came on the par-5 13th hole, a 460-yard straightaway where her putting proved to be the difference.
“That par-5 was the first birdie,” said Dunn, who was the only person in her class to tally a birdie on the hole – one of four par-5’s on the course. “I knocked my third shot on and it was pin high but over to the left. I thought if I could just get this close and start to make a couple of pars, it would bring my score back down. It was a great putt. It was a 15-footer and it just dropped, so very lucky.”
Two holes later, on Duxbury’s 15th hole that had a similar setup but played about 30 yards shorter, Dunn once again relied on her putting in her ascension up the leaderboard.
“It was another 12-foot putt. This one was a little shorter,” said Dunn on how she tallied the birdie. “I thought that it was going to break a little and it did break, but just a little. I just read it. I found that the greens really putted true today, so if you didn’t overthink it and play more break than was there, it was good.”
With the victory, Dunn becomes only the second person to consecutive Class B titles, joining Lynda Bedard, who won back-to-back titles in 1994-1995.
Ever since playing in her first B, C, D & E Championship in 2013 at Fall River Country Club, an event where she won the Class D title, Walpole’s Marsha Shaw has been looking to get back on the podium. On Wednesday at Duxbury, Shaw did just that – tallying a birdie on her front nine and a handful of pars on her back nine to top the 13 women competing for the title of Class C champion.
Consisting of competitors whose handicap indices ranged from 18.1-21.0, Shaw’s birdie on the third hole ended up being the essential one, allowing her to best Susan Sheehan by one stroke on the leaderboard.
“It was very exciting for me,” said Shaw following her victory Wednesday. “I don’t usually win a lot of tournaments, so this is a big deal for me.”
After making bogey on her first two holes – a pair of par-4’s – Shaw was able to get one back on the scorecard on the par-3 3rd hole, Duxbury’s shortest hole at just over 100 yards.
On the birdie, Shaw said her drive helped her as it brought the ball within feet of the hole – allowing her to knock it in to steal back a stroke on her card.
While that was key for Shaw, she said a save for par on the par-3 17th hole may have been even more beneficial in her pursuit of victory.
“On the last par-3, the 17th, it was a long par-3 at 150-something yards. I hit my driver and it went off to the right and over the trap so I was in kind of the rough,” explained Shaw, who serves as a personal trainer when she isn’t golfing. “I hit a terrible chip shot, but it went up the hill of the green and came all the way back down to about a foot from the hole. I could’ve gotten a five on the hole easily but I got a three. It was kind of one of those days.”
While she enjoyed her victory back in 2013, Shaw said Wednesday’s victory was even more meaning.
“This is more exciting because when I won the D one [in 2013], I didn’t have a clue in thinking that I could win. I didn’t know it was a big deal and it was easy for me to hit the ball then,” added Shaw. “This was more like, ‘I want to win this tournament now’ so it was more pressure on me to hit good shots and I’m proud of myself for doing it.
Looking to break up the run by Walpole Country Club members in each of the first two classes in Wednesday’s competition, Winthrop’s Christina O’Neill (President’s Golf Club) earned the Class D title, defeating her next opponent on the leaderboard by a margin of five strokes.
Her victory Wednesday, the first of her career, was the result of two pars on the par-3 ninth hole and the par-3 12th hole – two holes that O’Neil was able to take advantage of on her way to earned the class title.
Having lost in a playoff in 2017 at Hopkinton Country Club that ultimately crowned Maria Brown the champion, O’Neill said this victory felt great as she got to hoist the trophy.
“Today is especially nice, because I lost in a match of cards last year in the championship,” said O’Neil, who has been competing in the B,C,D & E Championship for the past 10 years. “To win it outright and not to have a playoff is pretty nice.”
Competing against a group of nine other women with a handicap index ranging between 21.1-24.0, O’Neil credits the time she had at Duxbury before the competition got underway as the reason she was able to top her class.
“I would say the time spent on the putting green before I played, was time very well spent,” explained O’Neill following her win. “I did not have very many three putts and I did not have very many single putts. That was probably the unsung hero, the putting green prior to the round.”
On her win Wednesday, O’Neill added that the opportunity to add her name amongst a long history of other women in the sport is something that she is thankful for.
“[The B, C, D & E Championship] is always a good experience with great people, and great venues. Women’s golf is a great field run by great people.”
Competing in what ultimately was the largest of the four classes of competition Wednesday at Duxbury Yacht Club, Lynn’s Juanita Grass (Gannon GC) not only topped the field of Class E competitors, which consisted of players whose handicap index ranged from 24.1-36.0, but her 91 on the leaderboard tied as the second lowest score of the day – one stroke behind Class B winner, Meredith Dunn.
Winner of the 2006 Class E Championship, a title she won on her home course, Grass’ five pars in her 18-hole play was enough to give her a comfortable seven-stroke victory on the course, the largest margin in any of the four classes.
“It feels good to win” said Grass, who has been competing for the past 18 years in various women’s tournaments and has been a mainstay in the Spring Team matches. “It’s an honor to represent the women of Massachusetts.”
After bogeying her first hole – Duxbury’s par-4 that played at nearly 330 yards, Grass settled right down and parred each of the next two holes. She added pars on the 340+ yard seventh hole, a par-4, before making the turn.
On her back nine, Grass parred both the 12th and 13th holes, a par-3 and par-5 respectively, on her way to claiming the Class E title.
In each of her five pars, the Lynn resident felt that her short game was the key ingredient in her victory, adding, “I think putting, I dropped a lot of putts today.”