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It’s an event Massachusetts golfers 25 years and older have had circled on the calendars for more than two years.
Yes, the 2022 US Open at The Country Club in Brookline might also fit the description, but this weekend the 40th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship is taking place in the Bay State for the first time. And a spot in the prestigious event at Brookline, as well as 2022 Masters, will be award to the winner.
The U.S. Mid-Amateur begins with 18 holes of stroke play this Saturday and Sunday at Sankaty Head Golf Club (6,652-yard, par-70), with fellow Nantucket Island course Miacomet Golf Club (6,765-yards, par-70) serving as the co-stroke play venue. The low 64 players advance to match play beginning Monday and playing out through Thursday.
“September on Nantucket is awesome — it’s the perfect time of year,” said Mark Heartfield, the executive director of the U.S. Mid-Amateur and the outgoing Director of Instruction at Sankaty Head. “It’s showcasing two amazing links-style golf courses, which are unique to Massachusetts. Both are firm and fast, I’m sure it will be a great experience for the players.”
Of the record 5,339 entries that were accepted for this year’s championship, 10 Massachusetts natives are among the 264 players representing 13 different countries who will compete in the Championship Proper. Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea Golf Club), the 2017 champion, and Nick Maccario (Bradford Country Club), the 2020 Mass Golf Player of the Year, both earned exemptions into the championship.
The remaining eight Bay Staters advanced through Sectional Qualifying: Glendon Sutton (Belmont CC), Kyle Vincze (GC at Turner Hill), Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich GC), Arthur Zelmati (George Wright Golf Course), Joe Harney (Charles River CC), Sam Russell (Cranberry Valley GC) Robert Henley (Oakley CC) and Cam Moniz (Swansea CC).
Admission is free, and spectators are encouraged to attend. Tickets are not needed for this USGA championship.
This year’s US Mid-Amateur Championship coincides with the 100 year anniversary of Sankaty Head Golf Club’s founding. The first official golf shot on the property was fired in September 1922, with the full 18-hole course fully open for play in 1923.
Since then, much of the original layout and design still remains today, fulling a wish of the founders to “leave it so.”
CLICK HERE to read the tribute to Sankaty’s centennial in the Fall 2021 edition of MassGolfer Magazine.
Brockton native Matt Parziale knows what it takes to reach the top of the mountain at the U.S. Mid-Amateur. In 2017, he became the first and only Massachusetts man to win the title and was rewarded with an invitation to the Masters and U.S. Open the following year. He also took part in the meeting that helped secure Miacomet as a co-host of the event.
While those accolades are in the past, he’s still reaping some of the benefits, including a 10-year exemption into the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
“This is probably the biggest event anybody has at this age,” Parziale said. “This is the one they all want to qualify for and get in. You have to play well and get lucky with the draw.”
Parziale, now 34, has been the one of most accomplished amateur golfers in the Bay State since regaining his amateur status in 2012. He’s earned the Richard D. Haskell Mass Golf Player of the Year award six times and currently leads this year’s points race.
Still bearing the scar from a broken humerus (upper arm bone) suffered last fall, Parziale has been stellar in 2021. He finished runner-up in the Mass Amateur Championship and earlier this month won Mass Mid-Amateur Championship for the third time. Leading up to the US Mid-Amateur, he made the second flight of match play in the Crump Cup, an elite amateur event at the illustrious Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey.
Now Parziale shifts his focus to this year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur, where’s he seeking to find the magic again to win the championship, only this time it’s on home soil.
“These don’t come often where they’re close to home,” he said. “It’s always fun to see people from home.”
Like Parziale, Joe Harney is a former professional golfer who has since regained his amateur status. Harney, the 2015 Mass Open champion, officially became an amateur again this past April and said he’s having more fun with golf than ever before.
“It’s been good to get out and play recreationally,” said Harney, a West Roxbury resident who plays out of Charles River Country Club. “I like to play up for a tournament, but it’s not as much of a burden. I’m not as nervous when I don’t play for a couple of days.”
Harney qualified on August 31 alongside 2020 Mass Mid-Amateur champion Arthur Zelmati at Indian Hill Country Club in Connecticut. Harney, who shot a 69 in the qualifier, also happened to be paired with Shane Bacon, the co-host of Golf Channel’s ‘Golf Today’ show, and said Bacon wished him luck ahead of his USGA debut.
“I think I have the game to win, and I think it’ll be fun to make a run at it,” Harney said.
Nick Maccario has had a “strategic approach” to his 2021 competition schedule U.S. Mid-Amateur in mind. In addition to competing in the Terra Cotta Invitational, the Jones Cup, and the Northeast Amateur, the North Shore native has found a way to connect with players who have performed well in past U.S. Mid-Amateurs. Kevin O’Connell, the 2018 champion, and Joe Deraney, the runner-up at the last Mid-Am in 2019 (2020 canceled due to COVID-19) are among those Maccario has connected with.
“It’s just seeing what they do, how they go about their time, what tournaments they play, and that kind of stuff that interests me as a regular golfer and competitor,” said Maccario, who won the 2019 Mass Mid-Amateur. “I wouldn’t say I played my best, it shows I can hang with these guys.”
Maccario also said he was blown away experiencing Sankaty during his practice round last month.
“It’s built on a breathtaking piece of property,” Maccario said. “The way it was built, it’s very rare that holes would be running directly downwind and into the wind, it’s always crooked. It can make you uncomfortable. That’s the beauty. It’s not long on the scorecard. You can go to a 330-yard hole and hit 3-wood off the tee and be just off the front edge, then go to a 380-yard hole into the wind and you’re hitting driver, 5-iron. The colors, it’s super green fairways with burnt rough and some golden fescue. To see how it sits on this plot of land is awesome. It’s easily in my top 5 courses, for sure.”
Maccario will also get some help from somebody within Sankaty’s esteemed caddy camp program. Matt Lucy, a senior at UMass Amherst, has caddied at Sankaty the past three years and will be on Maccario’s bag.
Doug Clapp is looking to add to an already extraordinary season, in which he has qualified for both the U.S. Senior Open. Clapp, 54, qualified for his 18th USGA Championship last month at Bayberry Hills when he tied the competitive course record with a 65. Now he’s looking to qualify for match play for the first time since 2012.
“I’m anxious to have a good showing and get into the top 64,” said Clapp, the 2013 Mass Golf Player of the Year. “I think the course is set up well if the wind blows. If the wind doesn’t blow it’ll be a lot of low scores.”
Added Clapp: “I think it’ll be fun having a home game. That doesn’t come around often, and they’re both really good golf courses. Players are coming from far and wide, and they’ll have a blast.”
Sam Russell shot a 68 at Bayberry Hills to qualify, with Cam Moniz and Robert Henley shooting 70s to clinch the final two spots outright.
Glendon Sutton and Kyle Vincze (GC at Turner Hill) made the cut during the qualifier at The Ranch, but the pair also have close ties with Nantucket. Sutton has a summer home on the island, and Vincze also spent many summer months vacationing there.
“My wife and kids spend the summers there so this is always one that I wanted to get since they made the announcement two years ago,” Sutton said following the qualifier. “It’s a dad’s dream, it’s something I worked for.”
Saturday, Sept. 25 (Stroke Play, Round 1, 18 holes)
Sunday, Sept. 26 (Stroke Play, Round 2, 18 holes)
Monday, Sept. 27 (Round of 64, match play)
Tuesday, Sept. 28 (Round of 32/Round of 16, match play)
Wednesday, Sept. 29 (Quarterfinals/Semifinals, match play)
Thursday, Sept. 30 (Championship Match, 36 holes)
Kyle Vincze (North Reading)
Round 1: Tee 10 (Sankaty Head) – 6:50 a.m. | Round 2: Tee 1 (Miacomet) – 11:40 a.m.
Nick Maccario (Waltham)
Round 1: Tee 10 (Sankaty Head) – 7:12 a.m. | Round 2: Tee 1 (Miacomet) – 12:02 p.m.
Doug Clapp (Walpole)
Round 1: Tee 1 (Sankaty Head) – 7:23 a.m. | Round 2: Tee 10 (Miacomet) – 12:13 p.m.
Cam Moniz (Seekonk)
Round 1: Tee 1 (Miacomet) – 7:56 a.m. | Round 2: Tee 10 (Sankaty Head) – 12:46 p.m.
Robert Henley (Somerville)
Round 1: Tee 10 (Sankaty Head) – 7:56 a.m. | Round 2: Tee 1 (Miacomet) – 12:46 p.m.
Matt Parziale (Brockton)
Round 1: Tee 10 (Miacomet) – 11:40 a.m. | Round 2: Tee 1 (Sankaty Head) – 6:50 a.m.
Glendon Sutton (Boston)
Round 1: Tee 1 (Miacomet) – 11:51 a.m. | Round 2: Tee 10 (Sankaty Head) – 7:01 a.m.
Sam Russell (South Boston)
Round 1: Tee 1 (Sankaty Head) – 11:51 a.m. | Round 2: Tee 10 (Miacomet) –7:01 a.m.
Arthur Zelmati (Boston)
Round 1: Tee 1 (Sankaty Head) – 12:24 p.m. | Round 2: Tee 10 (Miacomet) – 7:34 a.m.
Joe Harney (West Roxbury)
Round 1: Tee 1 (Miacomet) – 1:08 p.m. | Round 2: Tee 10 (Sankaty Head) – 8:18 a.m.
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The couple that plays golf together…
Newlyweds Michelle and Hunter Parrish are 2 of the 396 players competing in concurrent USGA championships this weekend!
— USGA (@USGA) September 22, 2021
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) September 22, 2021