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PEABODY, Massachusetts – On an unseasonably cool July day, Mary Gail-Brock (Far Corner Golf Club) and Betty Wozniak (The Meadow at Peabody) did just enough to get by their competition and capture the Gross Division Championship at the Allen Bowl Four-Ball Tournament. The pair shot 17-over-par 89 for a one-stroke victory.
In the Net Division, Kim Cox and Kate Collins shot 5-under-par 67 and won via a back-6 tiebreaker. Collins and Cox, who both play of the the LPGA Amateurs Boston, shot -4 on their last six holes which allowed them to win the tiebreaker and earn the top spot in the Net Division.
In total, this year’s Allen Bowl Four-Ball drew a field of 16 teams for a total of 32 competitors at The Meadow at Peabody Golf Course.
This year, the competition at the top of the Gross Division was about as close as could be. For Mary Gail-Brock and Betty Wozniak, they were the first group of the day to tee off and they ultimately did enough to stay at the top of the leaderboard by the time everyone else behind them finished.
“My partner played much better than me,” Gail-Brock said with a laugh. “My partner was the good one. She played really well, I helped on a few holes. That’s all I can say.”
Joking aside, both Gail-Brock and Wozniak had their moments during the round.
Wozniak was able to convert four pars, including an important one on the 18th hole, which helped to keep the pair one stroke ahead of the rest of the division. Gail-Brock had just two pars, but she was able to convert a birdie on the par-3 16th hole, which plays at 135 yards. That achievement in itself was a big deal for her, in addition to winning the Gross Division in itself.
“Frequently, months go by where I never have one [birdie],” Gail-Brock said. “I did have one today which made me happy. It’s great.”
Gail-Brock and Wozniak have partnered up before in the past to play in a few competitive events such as spring team matches, but they entered Monday’s tournament with few expectations. Gail-Brock had played in the Allen Bowl Four-Ball previously and the reason she wanted to return this year was because it was hosted at her partner Wozniak’s local club.
“I had no expectations like that ever,” Gail-Brock said. “I’m very happy to win and I’m extremely surprised.”
Though not an easy feat to accomplish, having some prior knowledge of The Meadow certainly paid dividends for the pair en route to their victory.
“Local knowledge is a very good thing at The Meadow,” Gail-Brock said. “It’s a tough course if you’ve never played it before. It was fun, but it was hard because it was wet and the Meadow is thick, so it’s tough. I’m just very surprised that we won.”
Coming in just behind them at 19-over-par 91 were the pair of Barbara Horwood (Sagamore Spring Golf Club) and Karen Fossett-Roach (Far Corner Golf Club). Rounding out the top three for the division was Judy Corson (The Meadow at Peabody) and Margret Sheehan (Sagamore Spring Golf Club) shooting 20-over-par 92.
Kim Cox and Kate Collins emerged atop a tightly contested Net Division on Monday. Cox and Collins made terrific use of the Four-Ball format, with Cox scoring three net birdies and Collins making three net birdies and one net eagle during the round.
“We were definitely playing a round in which I’d have a great hole and she would be having challenges,” Collins said. “Then, she would have a great hole and I’d have challenges. That’s really what helps with this kind of format. I’ve played stroke play by myself and she’s played stroke play by herself at a national level for the LPGA Amateurs and that’s tough. This is great with the team format, so we really enjoyed that.”
Cox and Collins, who are married and have competed in several team events before, came into Monday with a loose attitude towards playing.
“We keep the mindset of we’re going to just have fun,” Cox said. “If we get into the mindset of that super competition, we’ll do that with each other on our own, but not in this kind of setting. In this kind of setting it helps, especially for me, to be like ‘We’re just going to have fun and whatever happens, happens.’ It’s great if we win something, but it’s okay if we don’t.”
It was Collins who got her wife into golf about 10 years ago now and over that time, she has seen her game improve drastically. Cox has dropped from a handicap in the 40s all the way down to a 28 now. Their calm attitudes and consistent approach proved to be the key to success on Monday.
The team of Susan Vaters and Denise Oconnor, playing out of Gannon Municipal Golf Course, also finished 5-under-par 67, but earned second place in Net due to the tiebreaker. Coming in solo third were Deborah Fisher (Lexington Golf Club) and Brenda Nishimura (Oakley Country Club) at 4-under-par 68.
The Allen Bowl predates all the way back to 1938. At that time, the event was contested as an individual tournament, not like the team format that exists today. Mrs. Ernest Hooton was the first-ever person to take home to the Eleanor W. Allen Bowl when she won at Oakley Country Club in Watertown.
The event would continue as an individual contest for the next 11 years, with each year bringing a different winner. From 1943 to 1945, the Allen Bowl was not held due to the presence of WWII. 1953 would mark the first year that the tournament switched to the team event its remained to be. Mrs. H.K. Gross and Mrs. E.H. Weiss would capture a victory playing at Belmont Country Club.
Today, the Allen Bowl Four-Ball is comprised of two women teams and entries are open to all amateur golfers with an active Mass Golf/GHIN Handicap index between 18.1 and 54.0. The format of the event is four-ball where each member of the team plays their own ball and the best score is taken for the hole.
The last time the event saw a repeat winning team was in 2013 and 2014. The pair of Barbara Horwood and Karen Fossett took home consecutive Allen Bowl Four-Ball honors. They first did it at William J. Devine Golf Course in Boston, then again the following year at The Captains Golf Course in Brewster.