- Golfer Benefits
LONGMEADOW | WILBRAHAM, Massachusetts – Temperatures may have cooled off Wednesday at the 25th Senior Four-Ball Championship, but the play of Todd Ezold and Mike Trombley certainly did not. Playing the final round on their home course of Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow, the duo shot a second consecutive 67 to finish 9-under-par and earn their first championship as team by besting the field of 171 teams by two strokes.
Claude Hoopes and Don Anderson, of The Kittansett Club, held a two-stroke lead at 7-under-par entering Round 2. Though Ezold and Trombley overtook them, their lead in the Super Senior Division held as they shot even-par 72 at co-hosting site Country Club of Wilbraham to win the division by two strokes.
The teams with the low 20 scores and ties are exempt for next year’s Senior Four-Ball Championship. The site and date is still to be determined.
If there’s one thing Todd Ezold and Mike Trombley don’t shy away from, it’s the grind of competition. Both men played professional baseball, with Trombley pitching 11 years in the majors between 1992-2002. Trombley has long since retired and now works in finance, but his golf game is as sharp as his fastball was back in the day.
“We always say the grind is the fun part,” said Trombley, who like the rest of the field battled both hot and chilly temperatures and pollen-filled skies across two different golf courses. “As many tournaments as we can play together, I’ll play.”
Wednesday shaped up nicely for the champions and they were first off the 10th tee and were playing at home. However, they made the turn at even-par. But for the second consecutive day, Trombley made another clutch shot to put them right in the mix. On the par-5 1st (10th of the round), Trombley hit driver, and his second shot with the 3-wood rolled past the hole. But on his third, he chipped in to put them in a tie for the lead. Ezold then sank a 15-footer for birdie to put them at 8-under, which would be plenty for the title.
“We went from bad mood to good mood real quick,” said Trombley, who also holed out for eagle from the bunker the day prior.
After Trombley’s birdie on the 8th, Ezold put some home course knowledge to use on the par-3 9th and he placed a perfect shot on the right slope of the green, and it rolled back toward the hole to set up a friendly two-putt par.
“The golf course is playing is fast and hard, so the home course knowledge definitely helped,” said Ezold, the 2008 Mass Amateur Public Links champion. “Talking with guys coming from out of town, it might have cost them a couple shots.”
The winning pair also got some help from their playing partners, Gene Gonzalez and John Donahue of Charles River Country Club. With a birdie putt looming for Trombley on the par-4 8th (17th of the round) the Gonzalez and Donahue were audibly pulling for him to make the putt as if they were on the same team.
“They were terrific guys, and they were good to us, and I think we would do the same thing if they were in the mix,” Trombley said.
In addition to Hoopes and Anderson, formidable seniors Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough Country Club) and Jack Kearney (Westover Golf Course) were also in the mix. Two birdies from Kearney on their first nine, followed by consecutive birdies by Vana on holes 1 and 2 put them at 6-under. The pair had three birdie bids within 10 feet but finished with par on the remaining seven holes.
“I hit it way better today,” said Vana, winner of the 2018 Mass Senior Amateur and 2020 New England Senior Amateur. “I just had fun.”
Also finishing T2 were the Western Mass tandem of Michael Mertes (Wyckoff Country Club) and Ronald Laverdiere (Crumpin-Fox Club), who surged into contention by shooting a 5-under 66 at Twin Hills, the low round of the day.
Defending champions Keith Smith (Franklin Country Club) and Steven Tasho (Thorny Lea Golf Club) finished 5th after tallying five birdies at Twin Hills. However, they gave one back on the 8th as it wasn’t enough to make up the 5-stroke deficit entering the day.
Playing in the final group, Ken Dimaggio and Vin Sasso, of The Haven Country Club, mounted a late rally as they got to 8-under total with six holes to go thanks to five birdies from Dimaggio. However, some late bogeys stood in the way of their title pursuit.
Don Anderson had a plane to catch Wednesday evening. Anderson, a senior scientist for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, is an international advisor and leading expert on red tide, but before shipping off to Portugal to give a keynote address overseas, he had some business to take care of. Anderson and Claude Hoopes entered the day with the overall lead, and on Wednesday shot even-par 72 at The Country Club of Wilbraham. Though it wasn’t enough to keep the edge, the pair locked up the Super Senior Division title to earn their first victory as a pair.
“We’re blessed to have been partners for so many years,” said Hoopes, who is a longtime friend and member of The Kittansett Club with Anderson. “We’ve won some local club tournaments, but to have a Mass Golf trophy is really the pinnacle of golf in New England, and we’re just absolutely thrilled to have persevered today.”
Anderson and Hoopes fell back to the pack a bit at Wilbraham, a much tighter course. “One of the strengths of my game is my tee ball, and I I lost it on a number of holes today, but Claude was right there,” Anderson said. “It was a challenge, and we were fortunate to have gone so low yesterday and could just hang on today.”
Anderson won the 2004 Mass Senior Amateur title, while Hoopes won the Legends Division (age 70+) of the 2021 Mass Super Senior Amateur. Now the pair is setting their sites on qualifying for the 2022 U.S. Senior Amateur title, taking place at Kittansett from August 27-September 1. Anderson will try to qualify July 18 at The Captains Course on Cape Cod, while Hoopes will play in the July 26 qualifier in Vermont.
“This tournament just gives me incredible confidence to believe I can qualify for the U.S. Senior Amateur,” Hoopes said. “I’ve proven to myself that I can play under pressure. It was a great round that I had yesterday, and if I could do that again in the qualifying round, that would be wonderful.”
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