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DORCHESTER, Massachusetts – History was made on Monday when the 110th Massachusetts Amateur Championship kicked off at William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park. A field of the state’s top amateurs came to the Dorchester layout to compete in the first round of stroke play. All competitors will head to George Wright Golf Course on Tuesday for the second round of stroke play before the field is reduced to just 32 ahead of match play which will commence on Wednesday in Hyde Park.
While the event stands as the third oldest state amateur championship in the United States behind only the Golf Association of Philadelphia (115 years) and The Metropolitan Golf Association (113 years), this year marks the first time in history that both the Massachusetts Amateur Championship and the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship (scheduled for later this month) will be held at a fully public/municipal golf courses.
“This is a very historic week for Mass Golf and the City of Boston,” said Jesse Menachem, the Executive Director/CEO of Mass Golf during the event’s opening ceremonies. “William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park is the second oldest public golf course in the nation, and we could not be happier to bring our two most premier events to these fine facilities.”
See below for highlights from day one which include a day-low round of 6-under par 64 posted by a Thorny Lea GC member not named Parziale, a special ceremonial first drive, a host club repping in record numbers, and a visit from the golf course architect responsible for the decade-long renovations at both City of Boston courses.
Entering Monday’s first round of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, 31-year old Boston resident Tommy Parker had never seen the William J. Devine Golf Course layout, despite living less than six miles away from the second oldest public golf course in the country. Playing in his third career state amateur championship and his first since 2016, his plan for the first round was to rely on the likes of friends for suggestions on how to approach certain tee shots.
With 18-holes down, it’s safe to say the game plan for the Thorny Lea Golf Club member certainly paid off. Parker made birdie on his first hole, erased a double on his third hole, then added five more birdies and an eagle to finish his first round at 6-under 64 to stand atop the leaderboard at the halfway point of the stroke play portion of the 110th edition of the championship.
“It was a good round,” said the former Stetson University golfer, who last year advanced to the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. “I played well and made some putts. It was just good to be out here. The place is in good shape.”
Starting Monday’s first round on the 10th tee, Parker jumped ahead of the competition early by making birdie on the par-4 opening hole – a down-hill tee shot with an uphill green – that played at over 330 yards, a start that helped determine the rest of his day.
“Birdying the first hole always helps with the confidence,” said Parker following the completion of his first round. “I had a little hiccup on 12, which was my third hole. I made a double bogey there. Just a bad chip that got away from me. Other than that, I was solid.”
Relying on the knowledge of others who had seen the course before, either in competition or in a practice round leading up to this week, Parker took their advice to heart and the results paid dividends.
“They gave me some guidance on where to hit it off the tees because there are a couple blind shots out there,” explained Parker. “I was able to get some wedges inside six feet and make a few putts.”
He made birdies on 13 and 14, and added one on 18 to make his double all but a memory, enabling him to still make the turn at 2-under par.
On his way in, Parker really did some damage on the board when he holed out from nearly 100 yards away on the par-4 first hole, a straightaway green nearly 400 yards deep.
After his drive that extended beyond 275 yards, Parker, who grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida, used a sand wedge in his attempt to find the green on his second shot. From 97 yards out, Parker’s shot took a hop on the green and went in the hole, allowing him to card a two on the par-4 for an eagle, one of only four recorded during Monday’s morning round.
“I knew I hit a good shot. When it goes in, it’s always a bonus,” said Parker. “I hit a little sand wedge in there and it took a hop and went in, so it was fun.”
He made birdie on the third and the fifth holes – a pair of par-4’s – then shot par on each of the remaining holes to finish his first round at 6-under par 64, holding a one-stroke lead over former Wake Forest golfer Ben Balter (Weston GC), and a logjam of competitors who followed suit by carding scores that appeared in red on the leaderboard.
Looking to build off the success enjoyed by others at his Brockton club, including reigning champion Matt Parziale and two-time champion John Hadges, among others, Parker will be teeing off at 12:37 pm Tuesday at George Wright Golf Course. If he were to continue his solid play, it would be the first time that he’d advance to the match play portion of the state amateur championship.
Despite a golf schedule that includes trips at Augusta National Golf Club, Shinnecock Golf Club, Pinehurst and Pebble Beach Golf Links, Brockton’s Matt Parziale made sure to include a stop at William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park and George Wright Golf Course.
After all, the 2017 Richard D. Haskell Massachusetts Player of the Year is looking to defend the Massachusetts Amateur Championship title he won one year ago and in the process become only the 11th person to win The Massachusetts Cup two straight years.
“It’s always a fun tournament to play,” said Parziale, who posted an even par 70 on Monday. “It’s great to come out here and compete. It’s the last day here, and then we head over to George Wright.”
After missing the cut but still gaining many headlines at the Masters in April, Parziale created Father’s Day memories for a lifetime by making the cut and finishing as co-low amateur at the 2018 U.S. Open Championship last month in Shinnecock.
“It has been a lot of fun,” said Parziale, who much like he did for the Masters and U.S. Open had his father Vic as his caddy on Monday. “I have been able to play a lot of competitive golf. I have done OK at some points and bad at some points, but it has been great.”
Today’s round is a return to competitive play for Parziale who took most of last week off. Following this week, Parziale will head to Niagara Country Club in New York for the Porter Cup on July 18-21 and then return home to compete in the 2018 Ouimet Memorial Tournament on July 25-27. He will then focus his attention on getting married in early August before heading to California for the 2018 U.S. Amateur Championship on August 13-19.
For right now, however, Parziale is exercising a short memory and is focused on just one task – to win this week’s golf tournament.
“Last year doesn’t mean anything,” said Parziale. “This is a new week and a year later and a different course. I am trying to play a couple of good rounds here and see what happens on Wednesday.”
They come from different towns. They are all different ages, and their years of golf experience all vary. But for nine golfers in this week’s Massachusetts Amateur Championship, there is one thing that they do have in common. They all call George Wright Golf Course in Hyde Park, the site of this week’s second day of stroke play as well as the five rounds of match play, home.
Following his collegiate season and in need of a place to hold his GHIN handicap index, 2017 Mass Amateur runner-up Matt Cowgill made the leap to a George Wright Golf Course membership this past season and joins the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick, James Imai, Ben Spitz, Stephen Demare, Alex Olbrych, Theo Lederhause, Cob Carlson and Sam Bush – who are all competitors in this week’s field who hope to advance to the match play portion of the third oldest amateur championship in the country.
Coincidentally, the nine competitors – four who were exempt as a result of past success in the mid-summer tournament and five who qualified at one of 10 sectional qualifiers held across the Bay State – also represent the largest contingent of competitors from a single club in this year’s Championship Proper.
The group of nine from George Wright Golf Course hold a two-person advantage over Watertown’s Oakley Country Club, who has seven competitors represented in the field and Thorny Lea Golf Club, who has five including day-one leader Tommy Parker.
As one can imagine, the opportunity to compete in the state’s most historic tournament on their home course for at least one day, and hopefully more, brings an extra layer of excitement to the Championship Proper.
Brookline’s James Imai, a successful junior competitor who has been a member at George Wright for the past four years, was particularly happy when it was announced that his home club was chosen to host the Amateur Championship.
“I think this year is obviously extra special because it is at George Wright, my home course,” said Imai, who will be going into his senior year at Brookline High. “This [championship] was one of the first ones I signed up for when I was planning out my tournaments. I’m definitely excited and we’re off to a good start.”
After qualifying at South Shore Country Club on May 30, a 1-over par 73 performance that entered him into his first ever state amateur, Imai hopes his familiarity this week at George Wright will be a difference maker, especially if he were to advance to the match play portion of competition, which kicks off Wednesday.
“Especially on these two courses, there are a lot of blind shots so definitely seeing the lines and the wind [are key],” said Imai, who posted an even par 70 at William J. Devine GC at Franklin Park on Monday. “At George Wright, they’ve removed a couple trees so the wind can swirl. Obviously, knowing the wind is key.”
A similar notion was felt by former Harvard University golfer Theo Lederhausen, who despite not playing the course as much as he would like, still holds his GHIN handicap index out of the club.
“I think it’s awesome that the tournament is being hosted by both Franklin Park here and George Wright,” said Lederhausen following Monday’s round in which he finished with three birdies and shot even-par 70. “They are both in wonderful shape, and it’s awesome that the city has continued to make them better. I’m excited to go out there tomorrow.”
In addition to Imai, Lederhausen and also Ben Spitz, who sit at T15 on the leaderboard, Matt Cowgill led the contingent of George Wright competitors after finishing his day at 1-under 69 to place T11. Fitzpatrick finished at 2-over 72 while Sam Bush shot 75, Cob Carlson shot 76, Stephen DeMare 78 and Alex Olbrych an 81.
The test as to whether any true home field advantage will exist will be determined Tuesday.
A total of 144 golfers from across the Bay State participated in the first day of competition at the 110th playing of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, held Monday at William J. Devine Golf Course in Dorchester. Prior to the tournament’s move to the City of Boston’s second municipal course, George Wright Golf Course in Hyde Park Tuesday, where the remaining four days of competition will be held, the man responsible for the course’s layout took it all in.
Mark A. Mungeam, president of Mungeam Cornish Golf Design which is the company responsible for the improvements to both this week’s championship courses, took time to enjoy watching the state’s top competitors take on one of most improved courses in the state – a course he had a hand in bringing to its championship state.
While it’s only been a relatively short amount of time since it was announced that the state amateur championship would be held at the two City of Boston courses, the opportunity to host top championship tournaments has been a vision that has been building for years.
In the early 2000’s, the City of Boston brought in Mungeam Cornish Golf Design to work on a master plan for George Wright. Eight years later, the focus shifted from not only improving George Wright, but the Franklin Park course as well.
“In 2011, we started to do work on both courses, where it wasn’t just George Wright,” said Mungeam. “Each year, we would do a little bit of work on both golf courses. The city has been great in funding the improvements to the golf course, and they realize that they have needed to put some money into the facilities.”
Among the changes that competitors noticed on Monday, and what they will notice when they take to George Wright on Tuesday, include the enlarging of the tee boxes, a reflection to the shift in the game from when they were first designed.
“The tee boxes on the older courses like this are just not big enough to withstand all the play that the course gets,” explained Mungeam. “One of the big things that we are doing here at Franklin Park and at George Wright is making tee boxes a lot bigger. We are adding some paths, some curvings and stuff like that to protect the tee areas from wear and tear.”
Aiming to maintain the original Frederick Law Olmstead designed facility, Mungeam’s focus has involved keeping the same wide-open layout, the same layout that was originally intended when the land was designed in the mid-1800’s.
“On hole one last fall, we rebuilt the bunker to the left of the green,” explained Mungeam. “There was a tree that was left of that bunker that was removed. Being that this is a Fredrick Law Olmstead designed facility or park, he didn’t envision golf on the property.”
“As a big meadow, he didn’t really want there to be trees in this area,” added Mungeam. “So, we have been going through the process of taking out some of the trees to restore that open character.”
While some changes have been obvious, others might only be noticeable because of the warm weather that the courses have experienced this past week, where temperature have reached 90º. According to Mungeam, the humidity and the dryness actually added to the unique features of the course, which has been in existence since 1896.
“To be more environmentally conscious in golf, we are trying to use less water and fertilizers, therefore, the golf courses get browner when the weather is dry and there’s high humidity,” explained Mungeam. “It’s got the fescues on the edge of the course and that’s a nice tan color that adds a lot of contrast. By using less irrigation, the ground is firmer and the ball rolls more and it makes it a little harder to play.”
Following Monday’s first round, the 110th Massachusetts Amateur Championship will continue at George Wright – another course that has undergone improvements under the guidance of Mungeam Cornish Golf Design.
The first-hand look at that for players in this field will begin at 7:30 a.m. on the 1st and 10th tees.
For additional information about Mungeam Cornish Golf Design, please visit MCGolfDesign.com.
Although the first official starting time was 7:30 a.m., the first tee shot of the day came 15 minutes earlier when Dennis Rorie kicked off the week-long celebration by striking the ceremonial first drive.
Rorie, a member of the Boston Police Department, is a city resident and a long-time member of the William J. Devine Golf Course. On this day, Rorie replaced his official BPD uniform for a golf shirt and green knickers in order to help celebrate a historic week of golf.
Rorie represents the second person to participate in an opening tee shot in the history of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. One year ago, former PGA Tour player James Driscoll began the tradition by striking the ceremonial first drive at his home club of Charles River Country Club.
On that first tee, Rorie was surrounded by Mass Golf officials and participants from The First Tee of Massachusetts who were on hand to assist the starters on both the 1st and 10th tee all day long. Three years ago, Mass Golf brought The First Tee of Massachusetts to William J. Devine Golf Course.
Although the Mass Amateur competition will shift to George Wright Golf Course on Tuesday, The First Tee of Massachusetts programming will kick into high gear at William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park as summer programming for the city youth begins on July 10th. Click here to learn more about the program.
Later in the week, the City of Boston will be sponsoring a free live acoustic music performance at George Wright Golf Course. The performances on July 13 will feature Sam Robbins (@samrobbinsmusic) and Jos Vincent (@josvincentmusic) as part of the 2018 Summer Concert Series at George Wright Golf Course.
Click here to learn more about the 2018 Summer Concert Series at George Wright Golf Course.
This week’s field features an interesting mix of competitors who possess unique backgrounds and experience. From a former Top-40 professional tennis player who has played in all four Grand Slam events to an entrepreneur who is developing his own bottled cocktail business, the Mass Amateur shows that the depth of the field goes well beyond their skill on the links.
Here is a sample of the incredible talent on display this week.
Steven DeMare: Grew up in Detroit, Michigan and is currently an employee of FootJoy. While in Michigan, DeMare achieved Academic All-State honors in 2006 while attending West Bloomfield High School. A 2013 Club Champion at Grosse Ille Golf and Country Club, DeMare’s favorite golf memory is playing with his father in a Member/Member Tournament at Forest Lake CC on Father’s Day and his Dad’s birthday where they won in a playoff in 2008.
Ryan Koczela: A native of Bridgewater, Koczela is a graduate of Bridgewater Raynham Regional High School and a current member on the Westfield State University golf team. He recorded one hole-in-one in 2015. His favorite golf memory is playing with his dad every weekend, and his favorite golf course is Fisher’s Island Club (NY).
John Dean: A native of Dedham, Dean was a varsity golf captain at Saint Sebastian’s School and a three-time varsity letter winner at Cornell University. He has recorded three holes-in-on and his best score is a 68 (-4). Dean finished first in the Boda Memorial Invitational and also enjoys Basketball, Squash and Programming.
Adam Bourque: A native of Mansfield, Bourque is currently a Certified Public Accountant and has been playing golf for 16 years. He recorded a second-place finish at the New England 10 Championship in 2014, and qualified for the Mass Amateur Championship for the first time last year. He is a distant relative of former Boston Bruins player Ray Bourque (Ray’s and Adam’s great grandfathers were brothers.)
David Walshe: A native of Westford, Walshe was originally born in Ireland and is a current employee of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. He has advanced to the Mass Amateur Championship Proper three times, and also enjoys playing soccer and basketball. His sister Alison Walshe currently plays on the LPGA Tour.
Kevin Daly: A native of Beverly, Daly was a two-time NCAA All American at Salem State University. He tied the course record at Beverly Golf & Tennis Club with a score of 64 and has recorded 5 holes-in-ones, two of which were scored last year. Has won a total of 13 club championships; 7 at Thomson Golf Course, 4 at Beverly Golf & Tennis Club, and 2 at Salem Country Club. Daly currently serves as the Head Coach of the Salem State University Golf Team.
Alex Olbrych: A native of Niskayuna, New York, Olbrych is a current John Hancock Financial Compliance employee and has been playing golf for 26 years. He finished T20 at a U.S. Open Qualifier, while his best finish in a Championship came when he won the Club Championship at Edison Club in New York. He also enjoys basketball.
Bud Schultz: A native of Hingham, Schultz is current owner of Cohasset Tennis Club. This year marks the first time he will be participating in the Mass Amateur. He finished in the top 15 in last year’s Mass Senior Amateur. A former professional tennis player, Schultz ranked in the Top 40 in the world playing in all four tennis Grand Slams. He also hiked through the Appalachian Trail in 2014, which is 2,185 miles from Georgia to Maine just over four and a half months.
Owen Elliott: A native of New York City, Elliott is a former golf, soccer, and squash player at Tufts University. His greatest golf memory is the double alternate shot with the Tufts Golf Team. He recorded first hole-in-one this past fall and finished T10 at the Mass Amateur Public Links Championship last year. Elliott is currently in the process of developing his own bottled cocktail business.
Michael Kaloyanides: A native of Newton, Kaloyanides was the club champion at Highland Links and Chequessett Yacht & Country Club. He has advanced three times to the Mass Amateur Championship Proper. His greatest golf memory was qualifying for the Mass Senior Amateur last year where he was able to play at Oakley CC, in which he grew up across the street since he was 10. He is a former third generation Partner/Owner of New England Coffee Company.
Cullen Onstott: A native of Wellesley, Onstott attended Tabor Academy where he was a two-time MVP. A member of the Fairfield University Men’s Varsity Golf Team, he placed second at the Westchester Mid-Amateur Team Championship. Onstott recently moved back to Boston from Texas and is playing in his first Mass Golf event in 13 years.
For complete coverage of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, visit MassGolf.org or follow Mass Golf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @PlayMassGolf and by using the hashtag, #MassAm.