- Golfer Benefits
Hampden, Massachusetts – As you stand on the back patio of the GreatHorse clubhouse, the entire golf course unfurls down the hill before you. Winding green fairways are framed by a plethora of light brown fescue, which is far more aesthetically pleasing from atop the hill than when you’re traipsing through it, desperate to stumble upon a golf ball.
On a full day of USGA Qualifying, first for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, followed by a slate of U.S. Mid-Amateur hopefuls, the golf course was dotted with players. In the foreground, on the 18th green, you could watch competitors trying to finish the job on one of the most difficult holes on the course, the limp USGA flag staked precariously atop a ridge in the middle of the green. Squint and you’d see other players far across the road, looking to string together some good holes in the flat of the valley, steeling themselves for the climb up the hill and through the menacing closing stretch.
MORNING PLAY: U.S. SENIOR WOMEN’S AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
Sometimes good golf begets more good golf. Such was the case for the trio of Helene Chartrand (Canada), Mary Ann Hayward (Canada) and Jayne Pardus (Mount Pleasant, SC), who were paired together for the first starting time of the morning and went on to claim each of the three qualifying spots available.
Asked if they were feeding off each other, Pardus said, “Yeah, we were. We were all kind of right there, so it was a nice group.”
Chartrand captured medalist honors with a round of three-over 76. Though she has played in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur seven times, she didn’t enter qualifying in her best form, “It was unexpected. I wasn’t playing that great this year and I’ve put in my old trusty putter that was in the penalty box for two years for the first time this year, and I really made a lot of strong putts to save pars and birdies.”
Leave it to a Canadian to banish their putter to the “penalty box.” Though if we’re stretching the metaphor, that putter came charging out of the box to score a quick goal. Chartrand birdied the first two holes of her round and four of her first seven on the way to a front nine 36.
She wasn’t quite as freewheeling on the back nine. Chartrand admitted to feeling the pressure on the way in, “Not happy the way I struck the ball coming down the stretch, since I wasn’t in that position for a few years. My collar was getting tight. Overall, it’s great and very happy to go to Arizona.”
Hayward looked to be flirting with the cut line after a double bogey on the par-4 14th. She then played her final five holes in 2-under to secure a spot in the championship.
Pardus finished one shot clear of a playoff with her round of 6-over 79 to punch her ticket to Arizona, “This is just a step moving forward. The USGA does such a great job with their tournaments. So it’s always and honor to go out and play and just be part of it, so I’m excited about that.”
Pardus successfully navigated GreatHorse’s fescue lined fairways and dramatically sloping greens. She was one of only three women who did not make a double bogey or worse.
“I mean, it’s a fair golf course. You can get into trouble. The fairways were great and the rough was not great. So as a player it was tough, but it was fair. I struggled on the greens a little bit. I had four three-putts, which is not quite like me. You put yourself on the wrong side of the hole and it was starting to run away from me a bit. There were some tricky pins out there, so you had to play smart. So we were somehow able to get it in and get it done.”
AFTERNOON PLAY: U.S. MID-AMATEUR QUALIFYING
2023 Massachusetts Amateur runner-up Matthew Naumec figured to be a favorite to advance through qualifying, after all, GreatHorse is his home course. He did not disappoint. Though he stumbled coming in, three-putting the 17th and making bogey on the 18th after leaving his approach shot well short of the green, Naumec was medalist with a 2-under par 70.
GreatHorse is the type of course that will yield birdies, but a large number is always lurking, and Naumec used his course knowledge to pick his spots. “Just kinda came out here and expected to keep my game plan. Played enough, where I know where to hit it and where not to, and just stayed patient and some putts rolled in on the back side,” said Naumec.
Naumec will look to improve on his 2022 U.S. Mid-Am appearance, in which he made it through stroke play before a first round match play exit: “Last year was great, played well in the stroke play, finished sixth…I haven’t played a lot of match play until recently, I would say. The Mass Am was very, very helpful in that different mindset, getting in a bunch of matches. Definitely going to take and build on that. And just kind of stick to my game plan of what I did at the Mass Am.”
Like Naumec, Mike Calef (Pine Oaks Golf Club) had built enough cushion to withstand bogeys on 17 and 18. The 2012 and 2013 Mass Am Champion posted 1-under 71, which put him in a three-for-two playoff with Joseph Harney (Charles River Country Club) and Robert Henley (New London, NH).
The par-4 1st was the first playoff hole, on which each player made four to continue on. The second playoff hole was the par-3 15th. Short yet difficult at 132 yards, the pin was located on a small shelf, and the narrow green was enveloped by an intimidating panoply of bunkers. It played as the 4th hardest hole on the day, but not for Harney, who birdied it for the second time in as many tries. Calef also made birdie, relegating Henley to an alternate position.
U.S. SENIOR WOMEN’S AMATEUR QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Helene Chartrand (Canada); (+3) 76
Mary Ann Hayward (Canada); (+4) 77
Jayne Pardus (Mount Pleasant, SC); (+6) 79
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Tracy Welch (Winchester, MA); (+7) 80
Temple Mitchell (Marion, MA); (+9) 82*
*Advanced in a playoff
U.S. MID-AMATEUR QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Matthew Naumec (Wilbraham, MA); (-2) 70
Mike Calef (West Bridgewater, MA); (-1) 71*
Joseph Harney (West Roxbury, MA); (-1) 71*
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Robert Henley (New London, NH); (-1) 71
Sam Jenkins (Charlotte, NC); (E) 72
*Advanced in playoff
The 2023 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship will take place September 9-14 at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Scarborough, New York. The original nine holes were designed by Charles Blair Macdonald, before AW Tillinghast contributed 18 more holes in the ’20s. Stroke play will be co-hosted by Fenway Golf Club in Scarsdale, NY. The championship is open to any amateur golfer who has reached their 25th birthday as of Sept. 9 and whose Handicap Index does not exceed 3.4. Todays players join several Massachusetts players who have already made it through qualifying at other sites: Matthew Cowgill (Granite Links), Antonio Grillo (Farm Neck Golf Club), Kurt Flionis (Old Sandwich Golf Club) and Conor O’Brien (Thorny Lea Golf Club), Sean Fitzpatrick (George Wright Golf Course), Ryan Brown (Cape Cod National), and Christian Jensen (Wedgewood Pines Country Club). 2021 semi-finalist Nick Maccario (GreatHorse) and 2017 champion Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea Golf Club) earned exemptions.
The 2023 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship will take place September 30 – October 5 at Troon Country Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. Troon was opened in 1986 and designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish. The championship is open to any female golfer who is 50 years of age as of September 30th and whose Handicap Index does not exceed 14.4. Sue Curtin (Boston Golf Club) and Pamela Kuong (Charles River Country Club) are exempt into the field.
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