- Golfer Benefits
MARSHFIELD/DUXBURY, Massachusetts – Matt Montt (Plymouth Country Club) and Ryan Riley (Thorny Lea Golf Club) had done everything they needed to do to win the Mass Four-Ball championship these past few days at Marshfield Country Club and Duxbury Yacht Club. But on Wednesday they needed to wait about seven excruciating hours to find out if their lead would hold.
After wrapping up their final round around noontime, the duo retreated to Montt’s house nearby to unwind, but once they saw a few teams surging up the leaderboard, they dashed back to Marshfield to stay ready in case a playoff was needed. Fortunately for them, it wasn’t necessary as their two-day score of 14-under-par held up, giving the pair the victory. For Riley this was his seventh Mass Golf title and Montt his first, but the pair was equally thrilled to win the first championship event of the season.
“We just enjoy playing with each other,” said Riley, a 40-year-old South Easton resident, who captured his fourth Mass Four-Ball title (previously with Herbie Aikens in 2009, 2010 & 2011). “We have so many good players in the state and to get another victory with him and getting him his first is fantastic.”
Montt and Riley can thank random selection for coming together as a team. After years of being paired in the same group at Mass Golf events, the two have developed into a formidable four-ball team.
“We just naturally became friends,” said Montt, a 29-year-old Hanover native. “One year we got paired in the four-ball and then we lost partners and we paired up and said ‘let’s do it together.'”
Through the first 26 holes of the championship, Montt and Riley hadn’t made a mistake. They started the day with a two-stroke lead after shooting 10-under at Duxbury and were still leading on the par-3, 9th hole at Marshfield Country Club. There they carded their first and only bogey of the championship, but they weren’t about to let that setback derail their title pursuit.
“I just made a bad misstep and lipped one out for par, and I think it kind of was a good thing for us,” Riley said. “It kind of lit a fire in us. We birdied holes 11, 12 and 13. The last hour or so was pretty tricky, but we were able to come in [with the lead].”
Riley said he’s recommitted to a high-level to practice in recent years as his kids are starting to get older.
“I still played a fair amount, but I didn’t really work at my game,” Riley said. “Now I can play a little bit more, so it’s fun to compete against these young kids.”
The pair that came the closest to spoiling the lead was Worcester Country Club duo Brandon Parker & Taylor Fontaine, former Division I standouts at William & Mary and University of Rhode Island, respectively. Following a 5-under 67 at Duxbury on Tuesday, Parker went on a tremendous run Wednesday afternoon at Marshfield. His eagle on the par-4 7th (299 yards) followed by two consecutive birdies put the team at 11-under par with nine holes remaining. Both players birdied the 11th, and a Parker birdie on the 13th put them at 13-under. However, they found another birdie to be allusive and finished one stroke off the lead.
Three teams finished at 12-under, including back-to-back 65s from Mike Calef (Pine Oaks Golf Club) & Kyle Tibbetts (Framingham Country Club), who went bogey-free, and Conor McCormack (Woodland Golf Club) & Jeremiah O’Neill (Hopkinton Country Club). A.J. Oleksak and Pat Pio, of GreatHorse got to 10-under with nine holes to go but were unable to close the gap.
Plymouth Country Club’s Nick Drago and Jonathan Stoddard finished T6 after entering Wednesday two strokes off the lead. But they made things interesting during their opening nine at Marshfield. After a birdie on the 11th, Drago holed out from the greenside bunker on the par-3 16th. He then stuck his approach on the 17th to about 3 feet and made the putt to move the duo to 11-under total. However, the pair could only manage one more birdie for the day and came up short of the title.
Nick Drago with an easy hole out from the bunker for birdie at Marshfield CC in the #MassFourBall Championship. Him and his partner, Jonathan Stoddard, are still chasing the lead as scores are coming in from the morning wave.#MassGolf #PlayMassGolf pic.twitter.com/Iuj0zhTa58
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) May 4, 2022
A total of 392 players competed in the Mass Four-Ball. Entries are open to two-person teams of amateur golfers who have an active Mass Golf Membership with a combined Handicap Index® not exceeding 6.0 (at the time of registration).
Marshfield Country Club is one of seven Mass Golf Member Clubs celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. The brand new centennial clock and commemorative logo were front and center this week during the Mass Four-Ball as a proud sign of a century of existence.
“Everybody is so excited to be part of it,” said James Antonelli, Director of Golf at Marshfield Country Club. “It’s not often you get to be part of a 100th year celebration.”
The early history of Marshfield can actually be traced to 1919 when seven men — James J. Duddy, George D. Alden, Frank H. Brigs, Walter E. Johnson, Sidney C. Randall, Clarence S. Armstrong and Daniel M. Frye — leased the Thomas Farm and Bryant Dairy Farm and installed five tin cans for a golf course and called it the Ocean Bluff Country Club. Two years later more land was acquired to build a nine-hole course designed by Wayne Stiles (designs include Duxbury Yacht Club, Marlborough Country Club and Thorny Lea, and many more). The club was established as Marshfield Country Club, and on August 15, 1922, President Daniel Frye hit the first drive in club history.
As early as 1924, discussion began on adding nine more holes. The club retained Stiles again, work began in 1930, and the new holes opened in 1931, including the four holes on the other side of Acorn St. (present day 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16).
While the course has never been the longest (a par-70 at about 6,300 yards) there are only two par-5s on the course (4th, 550-yards; 10th 507-yards). During the 50th anniversary, Boston Globe columnist Ray Fitzgerald wrote, “Marshfield Country Club is 6,062 damnable yards long, with 60 traps, narrow fairways and about eight million pine trees.” While many trees have since been removed, many of the greens are pitched front to back, fairways demand accuracy off the tee, and bunkers swallow up errant shots.
“For Wayne Stiles, the course is very Donald Ross-like,” Antonelli said. “I think the changes we’ve made, a lot of courses this age are going back to the design they were when they were first built. We’ve been reshaping fairways and adding tee boxes. It doesn’t play 6,298 yards. We’re missing almost 260-yards, but the par-3s will get you.”
Hosting the Mass Four-Ball as part of the centennial has been many years in the works.
“We felt it was important to support Mass Golf,” Antonelli said. “We thought a championship would be great to have here. It’s nice to get the caliber of play to come out and compliment the golf course. That’s important for the club and the superintendent (Thomas Harrington) to get a nice nod to the golf course for this early in the season.”
Dennis Whalen, the club’s centennial chair, said the club will hold a club gala on July 9, and later this summer will have an NEPGA Pro-Am with members playing alongside pros. The club will also give back in many ways, holding a fundraising tournament for Folds of Honor with a hope to raise $25,000 for scholarships to benefit children of diseased military members.
Notable players: Competition at Marshfield has been a cornerstone since its early days. Several members of the Mass Golf Hall of Fame including Francis Ouimet, Ted Bishop, Fred Wright, and Jesse Guilford have played the course. In 1935, Marshfield hosted an exhibition with Babe Zaharias and Gene Sarazen, both members of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Geoff Sisk, whose six Mass Open titles is tied with Alex Ross for the most all-time, was a junior member at Marshfield and according to the Marshfield 75th anniversary book, holds the non-competitive course record with a 61.
On the women’s side, two notable members have included Nancy Black and Tara Joy-Connelly. Black, a past president of what was then the Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts (WGAM), won two Mass Women’s Amateur championships and 13 Mass Women’s Senior titles. Joy-Connelly, who was inducted into the Mass Golf Hall of Fame in 2021, was a junior member at Marshfield and won the New England Women’s Amateur title at Marshfield in 1995.
Past Mass Golf Championships Held At Marshfield:
1951 – Mass Women’s Stroke Play Championship for the Baker Trophy (Nancy Black)
1958 – Mass Women’s Stroke Play Championship (Joanne Goodwin)
1963 – Mass Women’s Stroke Play Championship (Nancy Black)
1968 – Mass Women’s Stroke Play Championship (Gene McAuliffe)
1972 – Mass Women’s Mid-Amateur (Noreen Friel)
1975 – Mixed Four-Ball Championship for the Stone Cup (Debbie Simourian & Bill Parr)
1984 – Mass Women’s Senior Amateur (Nancy Black)
1992 – Mass Four-Ball* (Patrick Grant and Jerry Daly)
1994 – Ouimet Memorial Tournament** (Brendan Hester)
1997 – Mass Mid-Amateur* (James Ruschioni)
2012 – Mass Women’s Mid-Amateur for the Keyes Cup (Tara Joy Connelly)
2013 – Mass Mid-Amateur (Frank Vana. Jr.)
*co-host with Duxbury
**co-host with Cohasset GC and Woodland GC
In addition to several Mass Golf and USGA® qualifiers, Marshfield also hosted the National Amputee Golf Association tournament on its 50th anniversary in 1972. A sundial at the steps behind the clubhouse commemorates the playing of the event.
PLAYER & EVENT NOTABLES
Most Improved: Stephen Planeta (The Tour of Greater Boston) and Derek Wayman (Vesper Country Club) shook off a 1-over 73 at Duxbury the day prior and finished with an 8-under 62 on Wednesday.
Strong Charge By Veteran Duo: Dennis Pines Golf Course veterans Joe Walker and Kevin Carey have played in countless four-ball events together over the years, including their Mass Senior Four-Ball victory in 2019. Seeking their first Mass Four-Ball victory, the duo charged up the leaderboard by shooting 6-under on the front nine at Marshfield and finishing with a 5-under 70 to finish T16, their best finish since placing T7 in 2018.
Smith Caps Off Historic Performance: Morgan Smith (Vesper Country Club), who Tuesday became the first known woman in modern times to play in the Mass Four-Ball, had another strong performance in the second round of the Mass Four-Ball on Wednesday. Smith, 18, and her playing partner Maxwell Johnson (Renaissance) shot another 69, this time at Duxbury Yacht Club. Smith made two of her five birdies on the opening two holes and added two more on the 15th and 16th. Smith and Johnson will team up in the Mixed Four-Ball Championship for the Stone Cup on Monday, May 9 at Andover Country Club.
Seven For Stone: Keith Stone (The Tour of Greater Boston) put together the most impressive stretch of the championship, with seven consecutive birdies on holes 3-9 at Duxbury Yacht Club.
Up Next: There are two more state four-ball events coming up in the next month. Following the Mixed Four-Ball on Monday, the Senior Four-Ball Championship will take place at Twins Hills Country Club and Country Club of Wilbraham from May 31-June 1.
Visit MassGolf.org and follow @PlayMassGolf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest information on this week’s Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship at Marshfield Country Club and Duxbury Yacht Club. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #MassGolf and #MassFourBall.