- Golfer Benefits
- Member Login
NORTON, Massachusetts – Course ratings are an important resource provided by Mass Golf for its more than 360 Member Clubs, as it determines a course’s difficulty and allows golfers from all over the world to compete on an equitable basis using the World Handicap System.
For the past decade-plus, perhaps no volunteer in Massachusetts has devoted more time ensuring this process is carried out with the highest level of professionalism than George Thompson.
In recognition of his efforts, Thompson is this year’s recipient of Mass Golf’s Andrew J. Blau Volunteer of the Year Award. Thompson is the 11th person to receive the Volunteer of the Year Award since its inception in 2012. Andrew Blau, who died in 2010, volunteered for 30 years in almost every department for Mass Golf, including championships, course rating, handicapping, junior golf, and communications.
“To get an award with Andrew Blau’s name on it is certainly overwhelming, and I am really grateful to Mass Golf for selecting me for it,” Thompson said. “Golf is a big part of my life and to have the opportunity to give back to the game and to volunteer, I really appreciate the opportunity every day.”
“Volunteers remain the lifeblood of Mass Golf, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize those who have gone above and beyond to give back to the game in the Commonwealth,” added Jesse Menachem, Executive Director/CEO of Mass Golf. “For more than a decade, George has been a role model for our course rating volunteers, and he embodies everything we look for in a Blau Award recipient.”
Thompson, a 38-year member of Meadow Brook Golf Club, joined the Mass Golf Course Rating Team in 2007 and quickly became one of the most valued team members. The Reading native is captain of both the North Shore and Greater Boston Course Rating Teams, which covers approximately 125 golf courses, all of which are supposed to be re-rated every 10 years.
In 2021, he completed 16 course ratings, put in countless miles traveling, and has been instrumental in building up the teams in both regions by recruiting volunteers and serving as a mentor to newcomers.
Keith Gagnon, Mass Golf’s Manager of Course Rating, said Thompson is one of the most thorough and organized volunteers in the state, as he ensures that rating dates are set, teams are prepared, and all the paperwork and documents are in place. He also has an intuitive feel of how the process is supposed to be conducted.
“What makes George fantastic is he takes things to another level,” Gagnon said. “From start to finish, he’s one of the most dedicated volunteers. He’s a model for what you’d see of a person in this position. I know it wouldn’t be the same without him.”
Thompson got his start in golf in 1961 when he became a caddie at Winchester Country Club. When it came to joining Mass Golf as a course rater, Thompson learned from one of the best. Thompson worked in the finance department at Eversource where he met engineer Arthur Phillips, who was then the course rating captain for both North Shore and Greater Boston. Phillips, a longtime member of Needham Country Club, won the Blau Award in 2015, becoming the first course rater to earn the distinction.
“Without a doubt, he was my biggest mentor,” Thompson said of Phillips. “He really did a good job at teaching us how to do course ratings and made it a pleasant experience.”
Phillips said Thompson vastly improved the course rating process in both regions as he scheduled preliminary visits several days prior to the official rating so he was able to crunch some of the numbers ahead of time and save the rating team time on the course.
After a few years, Thompson became captain of the North Shore rating team, and after both Arthur Phillips and Sandy Stowe retired, Thompson was also put in charge of the Greater Boston team.
“He’s helped out in other regions that need help,” Gagnon said. “That says a lot about how much he enjoys it.”
Though the season is winding down, Thompson remains active in studying the procedures of the World Handicap System. He’ll maintain contact with his team and many course raters throughout the state with emails that include exercises and scenarios that one might see when course rating resumes in the spring.
“It’s a lot like golf, it’s difficult,” Thompson said of course rating. “There’s a lot to learn, and you have to put time and effort to get those skills up, and we have a team that is very dedicated. Beyond that, they’re a great group of people who support one another and always make our course ratings very pleasant events.”
Here’s what some of Thompson’s fellow course raters had to say about Thompson’s contributions to Mass Golf:
I started as a Mass Golf volunteer on the rating side 5-6 years ago. George was extremely cordial, friendly towards me and set me up with another rater to shadow that person on the rating process. I always remember asking George numerous times a couple of rating questions here and there on the process. He always had the patience to listen and give his advice and opinion on what needed to be done. Meanwhile, he was up to his knees with calling golf courses to schedule for ratings and personnel available for the rating schedule. George has a great temperament working with people as well as he knows his stuff. Mass Golf couldn’t have picked a better person for this award. – Peter Iovanni
For George, course rating is not just a summertime hobby. During the off-season, he spends a significant amount of time familiarizing himself with any changes made to the rating process as well as developing training exercises that he sends to the rating team. Through these exercises, raters improve their skills and develop a greater understanding of the course rating system. George’s year-round commitment pays tremendous dividends when we get out on the course during the golf season. – Fran Cusick
I’d say it is a well-deserved honor for George. He is a pleasure and a complete professional to work with on individual course ratings. Most of us are ready to call it a season come November, but we can be sure that George is already planning on next season with practice exercises he’ll be sending out to his team of raters in January and February. – Sandy Stowe
He’s an outstanding person and somebody I would totally trust. He was very aggressive in going after clubs that weren’t rated for 10 years. He’s a good manager, a good golfer, and we played in a lot of member-guests together. I’m really happy for him. — Arthur Phillips
For more information regarding Mass Golf, visit MassGolf.org or follow @PlayMassGolf on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #MassGolf.