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WALPOLE | FOXBORO, Massachusetts – By the time they reached the 18th hole at Foxborough Country Club on Wednesday, it looked as though Keith Smith (Franklin Country Club) and Steve Tasho (Thorny Lea Golf Club) were in a strong position to win the 24th Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship. But they still finished things off in style as Smith chipped in for birdie off the back lip of the fringe to put an exclamation point on the victory, with the team shooting a two-day total of 7-under-par 136.
Tai Lee (Granite Links Golf Club) and Jim Bandera (Plymouth Country Club), who were tied for the lead after Round 1, held sole position of second place by shooting a two-day score of 138 (5-under).
The Super Senior Division belonged to Jim Ruschioni (Wachusett Country Club) and Paul Nunez (Ludlow Country Club), who used a strong second-round effort to come in late and wrap up the honors by shooting a 139 (4-under).
This year’s Senior Four-Ball drew 352 players or 176 sides (teams) competing in 36-holes of four-ball stroke play split between Walpole Country Club and Foxborough Country Club.
Keith Smith is no stranger to success at Mass Golf events, and Senior Four-Ball in particular. He won in 2014 playing with Dave Turgeon, and now he’s back on top with Tasho, a two-time Mass Amateur champion. “This is a great win,” Tasho said. “There’s a lot of great teams and players in the state. It’s just great, it’s a lot of fun.”
For the pair, the win was a result of splitting strong play and also burying some clutch shots.
In their second round, at Foxborough Country Club, both men recorded two birdies. The most decisive shot of the two rounds came from Smith on the 11th hole Wednesday. The hole plays as a par-five, and Smith was able to hit his second shot up onto the green using a hybrid. From there, he knocked in an eagle putt to solidify the group’s positioning on the leaderboard.
“Steve had flopped the ball in there about four feet, so for me, I figured that we already know we got birdie,” Smith said. “It made my putt a little bit easier. That one got us to 5-under for the day, which really, you start finding a comfort zone when you realize you’re in the hunt, so that was a big catapult forward. It was tough out here. You still need to pay attention. T holes will jump up and bite if you get on the wrong side of the green.”
The eagle jumps out on the scorecard, and the late birdie was a fitting end to the competition, but Smith and Tasho credited the success to remaining consistent over the two rounds of play and playing their best golf late.
“Steve’s incredibly consistent, always in play, a great putter,” Smith said. “So, it made my job a little bit easier, took some of the pressure off me. But we brother-in-lawed it pretty good. We tried to give ourselves as many multiple chances for birdies as we could. We felt like we left a couple out there, they didn’t roll our way, but we had enough in the end.”
“We hit a lot of green and so we had a lot of opportunities in the two days,” Tasho added. “It was just a matter of who was putting for us, whose putt fell and whose didn’t with the birdies. We were pretty consistent, tees to green all week.”
After their first round of play at Foxborough Country Club on Tuesday, Jim Ruschioni and Paul Nunez were even-par and three strokes off the lead. In the second round at Walpole, they found their stride. Three birdies from Nunez and two from Ruschioni helped propel them to a 4-under-par closing round, earning them the Super Senior Division title for players aged 65 and older.
“We’re both 73 years old, so to be able to compete at this level, that’s just a bonus for us,” Ruschioni said. “We enjoy each other’s company, and we keep saying every year, this is the last year, but now we’ll have to come back again after this year.”
Ruschioni and Nunez are no strangers to winning the Senior Four-Ball. The two have four championships (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009) between them, but this is their first time winning the Super Senior Division since its inception in 2017. After Round 1, they were looking up at Jon Fasick (New England Country Club) and Carter Fasick (Westborough Golf Club) on the leaderboard, but they just remained focused and played their game in round two.
“We just knew where we stood after yesterday’s round,” Ruschioni said. “To be honest, when the Fasicks were 3-under at Walpole, I figured they’d come [to Foxborough] and be under par, So, we just hung in there, and we birdied two out of the last four holes, posted our score, and they said you got the Fasicks by one. I was surprised at that. They’re a premier four-ball team.”
The win for Ruschioni and Nunez snaps a run of two straight years the Fasicks had won the Super Senior Division. Beyond winning, they were just happy to have the event back after last year’s cancellation. “I’m glad to have everything back,” Nunez said. “It seems like we’re getting back to some normalcy.”
Tai Lee and Jim Bandera had never played golf together before as partners, but their first time doing so proved to be a major success. They topped the leaderboard after Round 1 and ended up finishing in sole possession of second place. After connecting at a Senior Amateur qualifying event last summer, the pair hit it off and were jumping at the chance to compete together.
“He’s a very good golfer, but he’s a nicer guy,” Bandera said. “And that’s hard to do when you play as well as he does. If you don’t have fun playing golf with him, you should give up the game.”
Lee and Bandera have terrific chemistry. In addition to playing well on the course, they have a lot of fun together along the way.
“We just clicked and it was a lot of fun even though we played terribly,” Lee said when reflecting on meeting at last summer’s qualifier event. “He didn’t play well and I was like, this is the guy I want to partner with because anything I do is going to be good,” Bandera joked in response. Going forward, the pair is definitely looking to continue playing together and perhaps even pick up a victory at some point along the way.
Steve Terpak (Wyndhurst Manor and Club/Wyckoff Country Club) came into the Senior Four-Ball Championship riding high. Terpak, who has a prosthetic leg as a result of a motorcycle accident in 2005, was the senior champion at the U.S. Disabled Golfer’s Open which was held at the Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona, from May 17-20. The event attracts a number of the top disabled golfers in the world and in 2021, it drew over 85 players.
“It’s bragging rights,” Terpak said of being the senior champion. “I set goals for myself. and there’s a little bit of reward. It’s about challenging yourself and seeing how your game holds up against the top disabled golfers in the world.”
Terpak appreciates that golf gives opportunity and a sense of community to people with disabilities who do not always get the opportunities they deserve.
“Even if you’re not one of the top 10 in the world, say you’ve finished at the bottom or in the bottom half, it’s a personal achievement,” he said. “If you get to participate in this, it’s self-esteem. It helps with everything in our lives. We all want to participate, that’s what it’s about, participation.
The opportunity to compete in golf for disabled individuals has been growing, and that is thanks to organizations such as the U.S. Disabled Golf Association. “It’s not so standoffish anymore now,” Terpak said. “People are getting involved and these organizations are helping tremendously by putting on clinics and getting people involved. It’s very inclusive. It’s growing and it’s only going to get bigger and better. It’s really neat to see.”
For people like Terpak, who have any form of disability, just beginning to participate can have tremendous benefits. “I don’t care how good you are or how bad you are, if you can participate, and you’re willing, we’ll find someone to help you,” he said. “Both of these organizations [United States Disabled Golf Association and National Amputee Golf Association] are great. I thought for a little while my life was over and I wasn’t going to be able to do anything. You hear about stuff, and I’ve always been an athlete, and I love challenges. It became a challenge.”
In October, Terpak will be defending his senior championship honors in the 73rd annual National Amputee Golf Association Championships. The event is being held from October 25-29 at the Stallion Mountain Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Doug Pendleton (Worcester Country Club) and Ken Beaulieu (The Meadow at Peabody) finished up their rounds at the Senior Four-Ball Championship shooting a two-day total of 149. The score did not land them atop the leaderboard, but for Pendleton, it was another chance to compete in his ultimate goal towards becoming a scratch golfer. He has been a member of Worcester Country Club for 18 months and prior to that was with Oak Hill Country Club for 25 years. But his serious attitude towards golf is a recent development.
As Pendleton described it, he always played golf in a loose nature. He’s not too worried about his score but always had particular problems putting.
“I would play with a couple of guys [and] show up with six or eight clubs, just for fun,” he said. “I’ve always struggled with my putting. I played in the Club Championship one time at Oak Hill, and I had like an eight-inch birdie putt — I literally panicked. I was so afraid, you know, to like, even pull the putter back,” he said.
Over time, Pendleton developed a desire to improve. A few years back at a New Year’s Eve Party, Pendleton got asked what his resolution was, and he decided to share that he wanted to become a scratch golfer. To create some accountability, Pendleton started an Instagram account @journeytoscratch. The account’s first post came on March 14, 2019, and now today it has grown to 179 posts with 1,346 followers.
“I kind of put it out in the universe as motivation to try and help myself get better physically, mentally and so I started working on why am I worried about my putting, and why I put pressure on that,” he said. “It’s enabled me to make a lot of friends. I got so many pen pals now.”
The account is a passion project for Pendleton, and that’s nothing new to him as it pertains to Instagram. He also created two other popular accounts. The first of which is @capcodimages which has about 54,000 followers. Pendleton is an avid photographer, and he created the account to share that passion with the world and encourage others to do the same.
“I was living on Cape Cod at the time,” Pendleton said. “So, I just started a feed where other photographers could post their pictures, and I would try and beat them.” While Pendleton has handed off the day-to-day posting on the account to someone else, it is still a page he had a major hand in building.
His final account is @woodenboatsarebetter and it has over 10,000 followers. Like the others, Pendleton created the account simply because he loves photography and wooden sailboats. While the three accounts all differ from one another in terms of topic, each one is a result of Pendleton sharing and promoting a few of his personal passions with anyone who’s interested in following along.
“It’s more of a selfless thing,” he said. “That makes more traction than trying to promote yourself. So, sometimes I feel kind of weird trying to promote myself with pictures of myself. I’m trying to just put it out there a little bit.”
Bob Meehan, a longtime member of Mass Golf and Presidents Golf Course, passed away unexpectedly last week at the age of 75. In addition to playing in numerous Mass Golf events over the years, Meehan was a past president of Presidents Golf Course and had been serving as the treasurer. This week, he was also scheduled to take part in the Senior Four-Ball Championship.
George Lane (Thorny Lea Golf Club) and Erik Daniel (Presidents Golf Course) were two participants in Senior Four-Ball who shared a number of rounds with Meehan and had him in their hearts over the past two days.
“I thought about him both of the two days we were playing here,” Daniel said. “I know he was supposed to play, and he was a good friend of mine for 30 years. It’s a huge loss for us personally and for the golfing community. It’s a huge, unexpected loss.”
“I played with him for 20 years,” Lane said. “Good guy, loved golf. He was always the organizer, was always the guy who wanted to run things and, you know, make sure everything ran right, and he just loved it. That was his passion and his love in life. We’re going to miss him. I played a lot of golf with Bob over the years and he was just a really fun guy to be around before, during and after the round. I’m gonna miss him.”
Mass Golf extends its condolences to Bob Meehan and his family.
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Mass Golf is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to advancing golf in Massachusetts by building an engaged community around the sport. Made up of 90,000 golfers statewide, Mass Golf is one of the largest state golf associations in the country. Presently, more than two-thirds of the 360-member clubs are public-access facilities, while nearly one-half of member golfers are enrolled at public facilities. Mass Golf offers its members services including handicapping, event access, youth programming and exciting golf content.