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NORTON, Massachusetts – Playing in the Massachusetts Amateur Championship is a goal that set out to achieve at the beginning of each season. Only 144 players make it into the field, and this year, three players are fortunate to be competing in the Mass Amateur on their local course.
Being contested at Brae Burn Country Club in West Newton for the first time since 1991 and the 11th time overall, the trio has their sites set on achieving some glory right in their own backyards. Chris Bornhorst, Boomer Jenks, and Teddy Murphy are all lifelong members at Brae Burn, and will state’s premier amateur event take place at their club for the first time in their lives.
Out of the trio of Brae Burn guys competing, Bornhorst, 23, has the most experience playing in Mass Amateur. This year will mark his sixth time competing. When the news came out that the event was being held at Brae Burn, Bornhorst immediately placed an emphasis on it. Growing up, Bornhorst only needed to walk a few blocks down the road to arrive at the Brae Burn.
“I was four years old just walking over to the course,” Bornhorst said. “Now, being able to do the same thing, just walk over to the course and play in this, is pretty special.”
The West Newton native spent four years playing golf at Babson University in Wellesley. While there, he was named the “Athlete of the Class of 2020” and earned third-team All-America honors in his senior year. Following his graduation, Bornhorst enrolled at the University of Colorado for graduate school and joined its Division I golf team as a walk-on.
Meanwhile, Jenks and Murphy have a bit less experience. Jenks, 19, will be playing in his second Amateur and for Murphy, 19, it will be his first. While both are young in age, they’ve grown up surrounded by a rich history at Brae Burn. The club hosted the 1919 U.S. Open, the 1928 U.S. Amateur, and it has also been the site for multiple U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships.
“It’s just one of those traditional New England, Donald Ross courses, and I think the history is a really cool aspect of it,” Murphy said. “It’s kind of a short course, but it’s really challenging.”
Having played the course so many times and having such a deep knowledge of the layout and style of play, all three competitors are looking forward to seeing how certain holes are set up. One hole they singled out was the 160-yard par-3 6th.
“That can play really tough depending on the tees and I think that it will be really interesting to see where they put the tees in stroke play,” Jenks said. “Depending on how they’re trying to get guys around the field, you can put the pin six feet front left or back right. It can cause some really big numbers there.”
Bornhorst agreed that the sixth hole, typically playing around 160 yards, could give competitors some fits.
“There’s so much danger on that hole that you know you can do a lot of things with it to make it a quite difficult short par-3,” he said. “That will definitely pique my interest.”
Challenging as Brae Burn can be, there’s a certain level of comfort that comes with knowing the course inside and out.
“It’s a lot easier standing over shots knowing the perfect line, as opposed to when you’ve only played a course once or twice, you may not know exactly the best place to miss,” Murphy said. “Standing over the ball you can be a bit more committed. Everyone is so good, I don’t think it’s a huge factor, but it’s definitely a nice little advantage.”
Like Murphy, Bornhorst also recognizes the talent of the field but will feel some sense of comfort within the confines of Brae Burn.
“I think almost subconsciously you know your own tendencies from playing every day,” Bornhorst said. “Just for myself, I kind of have this sense of where I need to be. It’s true with every course that you’re comfortable at and play a bunch, you have this subconscious feeling of where you need to be and how you hit certain shots, especially around the greens.”
For the three locals, the only certainty is that they will take time to appreciate the moment of playing at an event like this in the same spot they grew up playing. Of course, the goal for all three is to also play well enough to advance into match play. From there, anything can happen.
Having family and friends close by to show support will also add an element of happiness going into the event.
“I’m very happy they’ll be able to come to see me and I know they’re all really excited for it,” Murphy said of his family. “This is definitely the biggest event I’ve played in at Brae Burn, it’s a whole other level in terms of importance.”