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MARION, Massachusetts – Monday marked the first time in the one hundred-plus year history of Mass Golf, that a championship proper was hosted at Marion Golf Club. The Young Golfers’ Amateur Championship Powered By KOHR Golf saw 27 youngsters tee it up at one of golfs’ true hidden gems.
The event was played as an 18-hole modified stableford, but the scoring was rendered moot after Aarav Lavu (MIAA) posted a bogey-free 59 (47 Stableford Points) in becoming the 8th Young Golfers’ Amateur Champion. For Lavu, it was a day of firsts. It was the first bogey-free round of his life, his first round sub-60, and his first Mass Golf Championship victory.
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As one of the older players in the field, and having finished as runner-up at the Young Golfers’ Amateur in the past (2020), Aarav Lavu is no stranger to this event.
“I played this event for the past three years, ever since I was 10 years old, and never won it. So this is a whole new experience for me. I’m extremely excited, because I’ve just a never been in this situation before.” said Lavu after his round.
Over his opening nine holes, Lavu birdied all three of the par-3s, mixing in an eagle on par-5 4th. And in his second trip around the charming 9-hole track, he mixed in three more birdies and another eagle. After the round, Lavu credited his iron play for setting up the many birdie and eagle opportunities. In total, Lavu made 2 eagles, 7 birdies and 9 pars.
“It’s just my irons were always going next to the hole and I had the distance (off the tee) on everyone, considering I’m one of the oldest in the field. So yeah, I was just hitting fairways and greens.”
Since the new ownership group took over Marion GC, the competitive course record has been listed as 65. That score was shot from the back tees and will remain intact. Interestingly, the owner of that record is Markus Pierre, whose younger brother Luke Pierre, was in the field today and finished T8.
On any other day Patrick Maloney (MIAA) likely would have been crowned champion. In tallying 38 stableford points, Maloney made 7 birdies and an eagle, and would have gone down as a 68 with traditional scoring. Over the final seven holes, he shot 4-under-par, which catapulted him ahead of last year’s champion, Tucker Cullinan (YOC/Mass Golf).
In his title defense, Cullinan played consistent golf, avoiding any big (or in the case of stableford, small) numbers. His two birdies and thirteen pars helped him amass 35 stableford points and a solo-third finish.
The Young Golfers Amateur Championship Powered By KOHR Golf was open to amateur golfers who have an active Mass Golf Membership and did not reach their 14th birthday before July 18, 2022. Entries were filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. The event is played as an 18-hole modified stableford where points are awarded for Eagle (4), Birdie (3), Par (2), and Bogey (1). Any score double-bogey or higher receives no points.
In April, Mass Golf announced a multi-year partnership, making KOHR Golf the official sponsor of all three Mass Golf junior golf championships: The Junior Amateur, the Girls’ Junior Amateur and the Young Golfers’ Amateur.
Since 2018, KOHR Golf Center in Natick has been a program location for First Tee Massachusetts. But the facility has also developed and coached several of the top players, 18 years and younger, in Massachusetts, many of whom compete in Mass Golf’s junior championships. All three of those events will now be “Powered By KOHR Golf”. With 62 hitting bays, 14 target greens and 12 USGA Greens & Bunkers, KOHR Golf Center is open 7 days a week and has been regarded as a premier golf training center in the Northeast.
1. Aarav Lavu (MIAA); 47 Points
2. Patrick Maloney (MIAA); 38 Points
3. Tucker Cullinan (YOC/Mass Golf); 35 Points
4. Colin Haynes (Hopedale CC); 34 Points
T5. Three Others; 33 Points
Marion Golf Club has long been known by those in the greater Marion area as “Little Marion.” The public nine-hole layout, just up the road from The Kittansett Club, was designed by world-famous golf architect, George Thomas. Thomas’ other notable layouts include Riviera CC (California), Los Angeles CC (California), Bel-Air CC (California), and Stanford University GC (California).
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Over the past two years, the course has seen a number of upgrades, slowly transforming the grounds into a championship-worthy test. A new irrigation system was installed in the fall of 2020, which alleviated the manual stress of hand-watering each hole, every morning. A number of bunkers that were previously grown-over, were rediscovered. Seeding, aeration, top dressing, and a lower height of cut on the greens are among some of the other upgrades continually being made.
And while the course has quickly been transformed into a must-play for all golf enthusiasts, the work is not done. There have been sightings of a world-renown golf course architect (who also happens to do work just up the road) and a course restoration is being planned for 2025. They are looking to lengthen the course, continue with some tree work, add fescue and expand green complexes.
One of Marion’s greatest cheerleaders is Andy Johnson, of the Fried Egg. He listed Marion GC as one of “The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America.” In his excerpt, he wrote:
Golf enthusiasts frequently drive past this little nine-holer on their way down Point Road to Kittansett Golf Club. Designed by George Thomas in 1904, Marion offers a glimpse into the origins of golf course design in America. The course’s architecture is rudimentary but charming and, in this day and age, unusual; on several holes, Thomas used rock walls as hazards. Often left unattended, Marion has an honor box where golfers can leave their green fees. You will find many courses with better conditions and more sophisticated architecture, but very few with the same level of historical interest. If you’re curious about what American golf looked like in its earliest stage, at least stop and take a look before proceeding down the road. Insider Tip: Bring cash! Don’t be that person who can’t support this wonderful place. -Andy Johnson
Past champions of this event have gone on to achieve great things in the golf world. The first ever champion of the event, Michael Thorbjornsen, famously won the 2021 Massachusetts Amateur Championship, has competed in two U.S. Opens, and nearly won the 2022 Travelers Championship as an Amateur. Last week, Conner Willett made national news after his courageous win at the 2022 Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
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