- Golfer Benefits
BRIDGEWATER, Massachusetts – Umbrellas got a workout on Monday at Olde Scotland Links during the First Round of the 42nd Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship. Competitors were greeted with on-and-off rain throughout the day, which was a nuance for players and caddies, but made for receptive greens and many a scoring opportunity.
Of those who teed it up in the morning wave, no one took advantage of the soft conditions quite like Ben Spitz (George Wright GC) who hit all 18 greens en route to an opening round 68 (-4). Also in the morning wave, and one back of Spitz, was another player that calls George Wright home, Daniel Schwartz, who opened with a 69 (-3).
At 39 years old, and still possessing all the game in the world, Ben Spitz could certainly compete for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. With U.S. Mid-Am Qualifying taking place on Monday at Spitz’s home course, George Wright GC, it was surprising to see him teeing it up at the Amateur Public Links.
When asked about the decision, Spitz chuckled saying this about George Wright: “I think it’s a really hard course. You have to hit it dead straight.”
He quickly turned the conversation back to the event at hand, the APL. An event he won back in 2017, and one he circles on the calendar each year.
“This one’s cool because it’s only the public players. I grew up being a public golfer, never was a member at a private course.”
Certainly more welcoming off the tee, Olde Scotland Links turned out to be the right choice for Spitz. In describing his 68 (-4), he said “I hit every green.” at which point the interview stopped to confirm that was heard correctly. “Yeah, I hit 18 greens, so it was easy going, just like a walk in the park.”
Spitz will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Mid-Am at Connecticut National GC later this month.
The afternoon wave of players were dealt the tougher side of the draw, with heavier rains greeting them early in the round. Among those to defeat the elements and find red numbers was Sean Winchell (Gannon Municipal GC).
Winchell credited his putter for the memorable round, which puts him in contention for a Mass Golf Championship for the first time ever.
“The putter was really working today. I was hitting putts from everywhere and when I was in trouble, I got myself out of trouble. Hit a few 6-to-10-footers to save par and really kept the round going.”
While the 15th hole showed its teeth on Monday, Winchell was able to avoid danger on the difficult hole thanks to his prep work leading into the Championship.
“I’m glad I played the practice round because I learned to just lay back. Don’t even worry about trying to fly that trouble, it just doesn’t get you anything.”
Two others shot 70 or better including Chad Tordone (Barnstable Golf) and Joe Powers (Olde Scotland Links), who both finished at 2-under. Tordone played a near flawless round and has continued his fine play since a solid showing at U.S. Amateur Qualifying at Nashawtuc CC last month. Playing a home game, Powers made four birdies on the day, but was tripped up by a double on the 9th hole, his final hole of the day, and fell back to 2-under.
Located in Bridgewater, Olde Scotland Links is a public access golf course that can stretch to 6,800 yards. The course was founded in 1997 and designed by world renowned architect, Brian Silva. The course is described as a links-style championship layout designed for both strategy and playability.
This year marks the first time a Mass Golf Championship Proper has been contested at Olde Scotland Links. The course has played host to many Mass Golf Qualifiers over the years including ones for the Amateur Public Links, Senior Amateur, and Super Senior Amateur Championships.
Brian Silva famously said “Golf course design shouldn’t be standardized. It should be an art form.” The layout at Olde Scotland Links certainly fits the bill.
This year marks the 42nd playing of the Massachusetts Amateur Public Links. The APL is often called The Public Golfers Championship, and for good reason. The event is open to amateur golfers who have an active Mass Golf Membership at a public golf course with a Handicap Index® not exceeding 12.0 (at the time of registration).
Players who have playing privileges at any private club are ineligible, with the exception of:
a.) Players competing on a school golf team, provided those privileges are limited to scheduled practices and competitions; or
b.) Players employed by a private club, provided their playing privileges…Are limited in nature; Are consistent with those offered to other employees; Do not allow participation in any club tournaments; Players employed by a private club must obtain an active Mass Golf Membership at a public golf course.