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Editor’s Note: The 40th annual Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship was supposed to take place May 4-5 at GreatHorse and Twin Hills CC, but was canceled early this month due to COVID-19. In lieu of this situation, Mass Golf is telling the stories of past participants to celebrate the history of the event.
STOW, Massachusetts – Twin brothers Carter Fasick and Jon Fasick are certainly among the most accomplished siblings in the history of amateur golf in the Bay State.
That doesn’t mean they always have the same approach.
After a thrilling finish to win the Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship at Stow Acres CC in 1997, Jon stayed behind to speak to the press, while Carter was already back in the truck.
“Carter is very meticulous,” Jon Fasick told the reporters. “He’s out in the truck cleaning and wiping off his golf clubs. He the Nick Faldo and I’m the Fuzzy Zoeller. But I’m not saying anything stupid.”
As lighthearted as that moment was in 1997, there was an even more heartfelt meaning to the Fasicks’ victory, and the subsequent one a year after.
The brothers won the event in 1986 at Woodland GC and in 1991 at Hyannisport Club, but up until 1997, the pair hadn’t placed well in the event.
But that all changed come the spring of 1997 when the brothers were inspired to play well for their father, Karl, who was first diagnosed with cancer in 1992. Their father saved newspaper clippings and attend events that were close to the Greater Boston area, but then the cancer began to show signs of recurrence in early 1997.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” Jon told Mass Golf. “Both of us wanted to win [the Mass Four-Ball] because he was our biggest fan. To point to something and win it is pretty cool.”
The brothers, now 67, have been amateur competitors since the 1970s all while making a living as carpet installers. They played golf only when they could — almost exclusively on public courses or in competitions. Jon now belongs to New England CC, while Carter belongs to Westborough GC. Both are public courses.
Since the championship began in 1981, the Fasicks have won four Mass Four-Ball titles together, more than any other pairing, and one Mass Senior Four-Ball Championship. (They also won the Super Senior Division in 2019.)
Individually, Jon has won the Ouimet Memorial Tournament, Mass Mid-Amateur and the Mass Amateur Public Links, but the Four-Ball wins in 1997 and 1998 before their father passed in December 1999, still carry the most meaning.
CHIPPING FOR NICKELS
Growing up in Natick, all it took was a quick dash through the neighbor’s yard to step onto the third tee at the now-defunct Natick CC.
Unlike many fathers who teach their sons the game, the Fasicks got their father’s help in a different way. They would take his golf clubs, unbeknownst to him, Jon said, and sneak in some shots at Natick. Once in a while, the greenskeepers would chase them off, but the time they did have was key to their short game development.
“We’d go out after dinner, take a wedge and a putter and chip for nickels,” Carter said. “Both of us had good short games. That helped us. We’d sneak on there late and make up hard shots. We learned a lot about recovery. We didn’t take any lessons, we just watched good players.”
Jon went on to be a league MVP for Natick High School, with Carter the No. 2 player on the team. As a senior, Jon shot a 31 for nine-hole match and was eventually offered a chance to play college golf at Brandeis University.
Jon opted for Boston College instead, and neither went on to play college golf. Yet, one of their earliest wins together came in August 1971 when they won the Braintree Junior Four-Ball by one stroke.
Months later, things almost took a turn for the worst when Carter and Jon both survived a car accident in October 1971. Jon suffered a fractured neck and was in a four post cervical brace throughout the winter and early spring.
Luckily for him, he recovered and began playing golf again in the summertime. Jon said the car accident and marrying his wife, Paula, in 1984, are the two things that allowed him to turn the corner and focus on important things in life.
“I’m just grateful about everything,” Jon said. “I wake up and see the sunrise and I’ll stare at it. I really enjoy living.”
TRAVELING, AND WINNING
The Mass Four-Ball started in 1981 at Concord CC, and like many regional Four-Ball championships, there was stroke play qualifying followed by match play to determine the winner.
That format hadn’t been friendly to the Fasicks.
“In 1985, we were medalists and then lost the first round,” Jon said.
Fortunately for them, the tournament shifted to two-day stroke play in 1986, the year Fasicks won their first Mass Four-Ball title together.
Part of their preparation for the season was playing (and sometimes winning) regional Four-Ball tournament all across the state, whether the Seagulls at Hyannisport Club, the Little Brown Jug Golf Tournament at Wahconah CC in Dalton or the Pewter Cup at Berkshire Hills CC in Pittsfield.
They also learned their contrasting styles of play. “I’d hit a draw, he’d fit fade,” Jon said. “It was different, but we saw the game the same way. It was easy to play.”
They also were meticulous about making par, minimizing risks to avoid bogeys.
“We’d really get ticked making a bogey in four-ball,” Jon said. “If somebody short-sighted themselves, the other guy would absolutely make sure he hit in on the other side of the green.”
After struggling at Stow in past years, they finally found the right strategy entering 1997. With extensive practice putting and staying on the outside of Stow’s many doglegs, they finally put themselves in position to win.
1997 MASS FOUR-BALL: HOLING PUTTS LIKE CRAZY & A FORTUNATE DELAY
Carter Fasick showed up 90 minutes early to get in some putting work near the golf school. Stow had never been a good fit for the two, but in this tournament, the extra work would pay huge dividends.
Bruce Carter could only look up in amazement as the Fasick brothers surged into contention on Day 2 of the 1997 Four-Ball on the 6,937-yard North course.
The brothers started their round by sinking four straight birdie putts – Jon from 5 feet, Carter from 40 feet, Jon from 18 feet, and then Carter again from 40 feet.
“They must have a couple hundred yards of putts,” Bruce Carter told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “Every time I looked up, one of them was holing a putt.”
After a bogey on 11, Carter Fasick made another clutch 18-footer as wind and rain began to fall over the course. The Fasicks had no idea where they stood on the 18th tee, with the finishing 536-yard, par 5 looming. Both hit their tee shots, but then the horn sounded as lightning was spotted.
Jon said the delay was actually a benefit, as it allowed the brothers to find out their position and that they only needed a par to win the tournament.
After 40 minutes, play resumed as the gallery, including first-round leaders Doug Parigian and Chris Prince, watched the remaining action. After hitting their second shots, John found the front of the green, some 75 feet from the cut on his third shot. Carter was off to the left on his third, but his chip from the deep rough landed within 6 feet.
But Carter didn’t have to worry about a pressure putt. Jon’s putt from 75 halted a mere 6 inches from the cup, allowing him to tap-in and make the brothers the first three-time champs in the history of the event.
“I don’t know if I could make that putt again,” Jon said.
“It was tough to watch, but Jon and Carter are such good golfers,” Parigian told The Boston Globe. “It’s hard to root against them. If they shoot 10-under, they deserve to win.”
1998 MASS FOUR-BALL: ANOTHER DRAMATIC FINISH
Defending the Four-Ball title in 1998 required a playoff with Eric McPhail and Rick Cunha. But even with a one-shot lead entering the final round, the Fasicks weren’t taking anything for granted.
“You look at the first seven names (on the leaderboard) and there are a lot of guys that can go out there and blitz that golf course,” Carter said. “We didn’t feel safe at all.”
Despite shooting 2-over-37 on the front nine, McPhail and Cunha sank birdie putts on the 12th, 14th and 15th to pull within a stroke. On the 18th, Cunha hit his approach shot 2 feet to the pin, leaving him with an easy birdie putt.
Carter, meanwhile, said he had the yips putting this time around, but Jon’s key play helped them make important pars.
Par was also enough to win the playoff.
Jon hit his second shot out of the rough into the heart of a pine tree overlooking the green and tumbled back into the high grass.
“Carter told me to aim a bit right on the approach, but I got a little cocky,” Jon said. “It was a stupid play.”
His recovery, though, was stellar as his shot bounced, ran up, and hit the flag before coming to rest 2 inches from the cup, leading to an easy tap-in.
McPhail had taken himself out of the hole as a wild tee shot landed in a driving range beyond the fairway. Cunha had a 10-foot putt to extend the playoff, but it rolled by the hole.
“I hit it well,” Cunha told reporters afterward. “It was a good putt. I thought it was going in. We just ran out of luck, I guess.”
“It was really sad to see the playoff end that way,” Carter said afterward. “I mean, I’m happy we won, but they sure played great, especially on the back nine when they string together all those birdies.”
The Fasicks haven’t won the championship since, as young mid-amateur players have dominated the competition in recent years. However, they’re still holding on to history, and the twins continue competing with single-digit handicaps.
And above all, their father was alive to see them win all four of those Mass Four-Ball titles.
“Anything with a state title tag on it is special,” Jon said. “I’ll never get tired of winning it.”