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AUBURNDALE, Massachusetts – For the first time in its storied history, Woodland Golf Club played host to the Cris Eaton Chapman Tournament, the first Mass Golf Women’s Tournament of the 2023 season. Monday’s field featured 103 teams in the event, which was accompanied by seasonably warm weather and steady winds.
The 18-hole, double-shotgun tournament used the Chapman format, in which teammates each hit a tee shot and proceed to play their partner’s ball as their second shot. Competitors then select a ball and alternate shots until the ball is in the hole. Low gross and net were awarded for each of two divisions (Division 1, Handicaps Up to 18.0 & Division 2, Handicaps 18.1 and above).
For the first time as a team, former Boston College classmates Katie McNamara (Charles River Country Club) and Lisa Heaps (Hyannisport Club) captured the Cris Eaton title with a score of 3-over 75, winning a tiebreaker over Rita Bedard (Bedrock Golf Club) and Christine Gagner (The Tour), who played in the morning shotgun. McNamara and Heaps took the tiebreaker with a 37 on the back nine, edging Bedard and Gagner’s score of 38.
Kathleen Desmond and Gerri Gross, of Fresh Pond Golf Course, won the Division 2 gross title, also via a tiebreaker. They shot a total of 98, and their 49 on the back nine was two strokes fewer than Andrea Reissfelder & Catherine Kobler, of William J Devine Golf Course.
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Katie McNamara and Lisa Heaps wanted to keep the momentum going as they crossed under the bridge that carries the Green Line subway cars past the course. However, there was a two-group backup to play the downhill, par-3 4th. But after getting a refreshing beverage and waiting for their turn, Heaps sank a 15-foot birdie putt from below the hole, and then they tacked on another birdie on the par-4 5th to get to 3-over.
Despite finishing with a bogey, those consecutive birdies gave Heaps and McNamara enough to hoist a Mass Golf trophy together for the first time.
“We wanted to keep the mojo going,” McNamara said while waiting to play the 4th. “We were having a lot of fun. We played with really nice ladies (Georgia Peirce & Elizabeth Derwin). And then we just got hot right at the end, so it was fun. I never thought I would win a Mass Golf Tournament, so it’s quite exciting.”
Years before winning this title, Heaps and McNamara were reunited when they were paired together in the Cape Cod Indian Summer, a long-running invitational held at Hyannisport Club, Wianno Club and Oyster Harbors. “We’ve been playing golf for the last couple years since that day, and we’re perfect teammates,” McNamara said.
While it wasn’t a perfect or flawless performance, that teamwork was well on display, even when they had to scramble. Heaps left McNamara several tap-in putts on Woodland’s challenging putting complexes.
After finishing fourth in last year’s competition at Salem, both women felt confident entering this year’s tournament.
“We realized that we’re not afraid of making shots,” said Heaps, a past net winner in the Women’s Stroke Play Championship for the Baker Trophy. “When you’re playing with a partner who’s not afraid if you put her in some trouble, it’s a lot more relaxing to hit your shot.”
McNamara, who has played Woodland on occasion, also credited the venue. “It’s a good choice for a Mass Golf event,” she said. “I play at Charles River, and I found a lot of similarities with the greens being that it’s a Donald Ross course. It helped being familiar with those types of greens. It played really nicely today.”
Following up their victory last fall in the LaBonte Four-Ball, Rita Bedard and Christine Gagner came all so close to winning their first Cris Eaton Chapman title outright. However, their net score of 1-under earned them a top place in net division. Bedard and Gagner were searching for a birdie all morning. When they reached the par-4 3rd (their 18th), they finally sank one to finish 3-over. Despite starting the day with a bogey, they made par on nine of their next 10 holes to stay in the hunt.
In Division 2, Paula Morgan and Susan Martinelli, of Presidents Golf Course, earned the net title at 5-over, finishing out their round with net pars on the 10th and 11th holes. They also knocked in four net birdies to edge out four other teams at 6-over. Martinelli won the second division gross title with Flora Fonzi back in 2016 at Winchester Country Club.
All of Mass Golf’s women’s tournaments and some of its championships are named after some of the pioneering women involved with organizing and promoting amateur golf in Massachusetts. During her time, Cris Eaton was among the most popular women in the game, known for her charm, wit and unequivocal appreciation for sportsmanship and fair play. She helped bridge the gap between older, established players to the newcomers to the game. Eaton also helped establish the New England Women’s Golf Association (now part of the New England Golf Association) and twice served as president of the Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts (now part of Mass Golf). The Cris Eaton Tournament began one year after her death in 1965 and has been played every year since (except for 2020).
Founded in 1896, Woodland Golf Club has a storied history from its original design in 1901, a Donald Ross redesign in the 1920s, to its most recent renovations in the last few years. Known as the home course to amateur legends Francis Ouimet, Jesse Guilford and Ted Bishop, Woodland Golf Club hosts the final round of the Ouimet Memorial Tournament each year (taking place this year July 26-28). The club is three years removed from a $1.2 million renovation project that included filling and redesigning numerous bunkers, changing the designs of several holes (including 2, 8, 14 and 15) and opening the front entrances on a number of fairways to improve playability.
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