- Golfer Benefits
DEDHAM, Massachusetts — To have an outstanding golf championship like the 120th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship obviously requires the presence of highly-skilled female amateur players. Just as vital to the operations are the individuals who generously donate their time as Rules Officials and Volunteers.
In the spirit of golf’s intrinsic values such as honesty and integrity, they serve the game as educators, role models, and ambassadors of the game.
Thursday marked the first time since Mass Golf began fully operating the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur (2018) that the entire crew tasked with officiating, forward observing, and live scoring the quarterfinals and semifinals was made up entirely of female volunteers.
“My aunt Sally Foehl was president of Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts (WGAM) and a member here at Dedham Country & Polo Club, and I was thinking today, she would love that there are all these women out here doing this to support these golfers,” said Mace Foehl, who was the referee on the first quarterfinal match Thursday between top-seeded Molly Smith and ninth-seeded Mary Mulcahy.
The entire crew Thursday has about two centuries worth of experience volunteering combined, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Rules scenario they couldn’t solve. But they also offer a friendly face and remind players that golf is a lifetime pursuit.
“It’s a nice feeling to see women work their way up to be a Rules Official because it takes a lot to stay there,” said Carolyn O’Donnell, who earned the MIAA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2020 for her service to high school golf. “When I joined, everybody was so welcoming, and it’s been a great experience to be part of Mass Golf.”
The dedication of these officials goes far beyond the local community. Christine Veator, who was granted the Mass Golf Volunteer of the Year Award in 2020, has served on the NCAA Division II Women’s National Championship Committee and has stepped up to officiate multiple regional events.
Thursday was also a send-off, of sorts, for longtime Rules Official Roberta Bolduc. A longtime member of Longmeadow Country Club, Bolduc has played in numerous Mass Golf and USGA Championships and was previously Chairman of the USGA’s Women’s Committee. Four years ago, she traveled to Nagano, Japan, to serve as a Rules Official for the Women’s World Amateur Team Championships. She also captained the 2010 team in Argentina.
Bolduc qualified at Dedham for the first-ever U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship in 1987 and said this was a fitting spot for it to be the final Mass Women’s Amateur Championship that she officiates. But she was happy to do so with so many familiar co-officials.
“We’re all good friends, and some of us have been around a long time,” said Bolduc, a forward observer in the quarterfinals and semifinals Thursday. “There’s good camaraderie. Everybody is more than willing to do the job to the nth degree.”
Being a past champion or Rules expert isn’t a prerequisite for those wanting to become involved in an official capacity in this championship. Caren Althauser is president of LPGA Amateurs Boston, which organizes local events for women of all ages and abilities. As a forward observer, Althauser was among those helping players look for lost balls and track shots from up ahead.
Mimi Henderson, who helped organize the 2022 U.S. Senior Amateur at The Kittansett Club, was also on the crew as a referee. “I was never good enough to play in this championship, but there are other opportunities in golf,” Henderson said. “You can do something you like and give back to your community.”
Individuals like Pam Gardner and Elizabeth Derwin love to volunteer just as much as they enjoy playing.
“Mass Golf is a big thing, and there are different communities within it, but today it was women of Mass Golf coming together to support the best golfers,” Derwin said.
Terry Wappel is particularly familiar with guiding young golfers. A retired elementary educator, Wappel is a perennial volunteer for Mass Golf’s Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship and travels every year with the teenage girls representing Mass Golf at the Junior Inter-City Matches.
“We are so privileged to have such wonderful ambassadors in this group of women,” said Catherine Carmignani, Mass Golf’s Assistant Executive Director. “This was a day to celebrate volunteerism and their commitment to the women’s game. This team is representative of a larger community of female volunteers that support our efforts here at Mass Golf, and we couldn’t be any more proud of an initiative like this to bring more awareness to our volunteer program.”
The overall group of female Rules Officials is growing, but there is still a need for them to join the ranks. Stepping up in any capacity helps the players and adds tremendous value to the golf community at large.
“I certainty wish we can get some women more involved with the Rules of Golf,” Bolduc said. “It’s fun, it’s rewarding, it gets you out on the golf course. What could be nicer?”