- Golfer Benefits
HAVERHILL, Massachusetts – From coordinating attire to group huddles and cheers, team spirit was on full display by over 100 female club golfers from all across the Bay State on Tuesday.
Playing under clear skies and pleasantly comfortable conditions at the highly-esteemed Renaissance golf club, 20 different teams competed in the Fall Cup Championship, the finale of the seasonal statewide club competition.
Tuesday’s competitors relished the rare opportunity to play as a team and represent their club, and naturally there was some nervous energy in the air, especially in the moments before teeing off. “I’m nervous, I’m just going to chew some gum like Tiger does,” one competitor said stepping off the practice putting green.
But as the temperatures warmed and players got into their familiar rhythm, the nerves faded and the players got to enjoy a truly unique experience.
“It’s one time you get to feel part of a team, and I think that’s what makes this really special, especially as we get older” said Liz Dolby, team captain of the Country Club of Greenfield squad. “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s a gift to be here.”
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Established in 2009, the Fall Cup competition is a statewide tournament that featured three matches in September. Teams of six females from each club were broken into 4-team regional divisions, creating matchups between Mass Golf Member Clubs. The top team from each region following those three matches earned the right to compete in Tuesday’s Fall Cup Championship.
For a handful of participants, Tuesday was their first crack at the Fall Cup Championship. Take all six members of the Greenfield squad, which had six first-time championship competitors on its roster. Dolby credited the club for making the experience an open opportunity for women regardless of skill.
“Our club pro [Kevin Piecuch] has done so much for women’s golf,” said Dolby, the self-described cheerleader of the Greenfield squad. “He’s always allowed us to have different divisions so even players with high handicaps and may have felt they could play in these things, were able to have that opportunity.”
When she found out her team got to the championship, “It was exciting, but then I said, ‘Oh gosh, what did I get myself into?'” But once she arrived on-site Tuesday, she said she was excited for the opportunity to play an excellent course alongside positive and encouraging teammates.
The championship format on Tuesday was four-ball stroke play gross and net, with the total score for each team of six determined by the aggregate total of its three pairings. At the end of each hole, the two-person team used the best person’s score on that hole (gross) and the best-handicapped score on that hole (net). Partners were paired by handicap index, low to high.
For the fifth time since the championship was introduced in 2009, the team of TPC Boston took home the gross team title. Dubbing themselves “The Boston 5” for competing one player short, the squad got a stellar effort from Kim Zenisky, who shot 4-over 76 in her solo effort.
The pairs of Debbie Deeb & Michelle Ouellette and Tina Newman & Leanne Smith each managed a birdie on hole 17 to help the squad finish with an aggregate score of 30-over, besting runner-up Northern Spy Golf Club and third-place finisher The Captains Golf Course by 11 strokes.
“We were just living the dream, playing a very nice course,” said Newman, who also helped the squad to victory in past years. “I’ve played this course before so it helped that I was able to coach my teammates through it. We all had a good time.”
Walpole Country Club (Team No. 2) ran away with the Net title, scoring 21-under, with Hopkinton Country Club taking second at 10-under. Meredith Dunn and Mary Barry led Walpole with a net score of 10-under, while Joan Morin & Jane Keaveney and Julie Corcoran & Joanne Barrett also kicked in under-par net scores.
Corcoran and Keaveney also led Walpole to the Fall Cup Net title back in 2018 at Willowbend.
For Deb Avery, Tuesday was not only her first experience with the Fall Cup Championship, but the first Mass Golf-operated event in which she’s been a player. Avery, a former competitive tennis play, is familiar with competitive golf as she’s usually watching or caddying for her sister Pamela Kuong, the two-time reigning Mass Golf Women’s Senior Player of the Year.
On Tuesday, Avery took part in her first Mass Golf Championship, representing Nehoiden Golf Club, in the sisters’ hometown of Wellesley. It also encouraged her to get a Handicap Index for the first time.
“It’s fun to do this friendly competition,” said Avery, who finished strongly with consecutive pars on 17 and 18 to finish out the round. “Playing with some of the ladies at my club, they kept saying to me we need you to play Fall Cup. It’s amazing to get to play places as beautiful as this.”
Avery said her sister helped give her a tune-up a week ago, which especially improved chipping. But most importantly Avery said she wants to use Fall Cup as a springboard for playing in more Mass Golf events herself.
“Mass Golf always puts on great events, and I see how much they put into it,” Avery said. “Next year, I want to see if I can do some of the women’s tournaments, which are perfect since my Handicap is around 15-16.”
The best shot of the day belonged to Maryann Davis of Ipswich Country Club, who hit her tee shot using an 11 wood on the 114-yard, par-3 2nd hole and watched the ball disappear into the early-morning fog. Though she couldn’t see where it ended up, she was more than pleased with the result. Davis sank the only hole-in-one made Tuesday, helping her Ipswich team to a seventh-place finish in the gross competition.
“We could see the pin but we couldn’t measure it,” Davis said. “I didn’t even think I was on the green. I thought it was off the back and we kept looking and sure enough it was in the cup.”
Davis said it’s her 5th ace she’s made, including her second at Renaissance, and chuckled when mentioning that her husband gets jealous that he still hasn’t made one yet.
The dates to register for the 2023 Spring Team Matches and Fall Cup Matches are still to be determined. Check back to MassGolf.org and be on the look out for email updates for the latest status on registration.