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PLYMOUTH, Massachusetts – History will be made this June at Plymouth Country Club when Jacquelyn Eleey of Quincy and Shannon Johnson of Norton become the first-ever females to compete in the Hornblower Memorial Tournament, one of the most prominent amateur events contested in Massachusetts each year.
The 53rd annual Hornblower Memorial Tournament, a 36-hole stroke play tournament contested over two days, will take place from Friday, June 1-Saturday, June 2.
Named after the late Henry Hornblower, an investment advisor who contributed a large portion of the land that helped create the host site Plymouth Country Club in the early 1900’s, the Hornblower Memorial Tournament is the result of a vision to create a tournament that would attract some of New England’s top amateur golfers. Since 1965 when the tournament first began, those top golfers, including James Driscoll, Steve Tasho, Fran Quinn, John Hadges and Matt Parziale, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, have all gone on to hoist the trophy.
Now, two new competitors with just as impressive resumes will be given the opportunity to hoist the majestic trophy themselves at the completion of their rounds.
“We are very excited to have Jacquelyn and Shannon join us this year to compete in the Hornblower Memorial” said Mike Ellis, who has been the Hornblower Memorial Tournament Chairman since taking the reins from his father, the late A. Linwood ‘Skeet’ Ellis, in the 1980s.
Both are skilled competitors who have enjoyed success across several platforms who he knows will be able to compete. Both fall into the category of having GHIN index of 3.0 or less, one of the qualifications that the Hornblower requires of its invites.
Other qualifications for an invitation include former champions, players who made the cut in the prior year’s tournament, top-20 finishers in either the Ouimet Memorial Tournament, the New England Amateur Championship and match play qualifiers for the state Amateur Championship. An application process is also included.
After the Senior Hornblower was added in 2014, Ellis envisioned incorporating a women’s tournament to coincide with the two other tournaments that have since become a staple in the summer golf regional calendar.
“I was asked by Joe Arsenault [of the Hornblower Committee] if we had ever considered a woman, as he had Jacquelyn in mind,” said Ellis. “To my surprise, the whole committee was all for the idea. Our pro, Mike Roy, knows Jacquelyn well so he made the call and the first woman in the Hornblower occurred.”
Eleey had previously competed in a Wednesday afternoon men’s league event at Plymouth Country Club in 2015 and aced the par-3 eighth hole, while playing from the back tees, nonetheless. Proof that she could indeed compete.
While women have never been excluded from competing, an extra effort to field female participation was initiated this year, considering the success of local female amateurs on national golf stages.
“A few weeks ago Mike Roy told me about Shannon Johnson and I said that would be great, and now we have two,” added Ellis on the addition of Johnson to the competitive field, who most recently competed at the U.S. Women’s Four-Ball in California, one of seven women from the Bay State to qualify.
Ellis hopes that a full Women’s Hornblower tournament will be in the works in the future.
A recent graduate of Georgetown University where she was the No. 1 golfer for her team, Eleey left quite a track record that will take others years to emulate. She became the first player in Big East history to win two career Individual conference titles at the conference championships and was also named to the Big East All-Conference team. Eleey was also the women’s champion of the 2017 Francis Ouimet Memorial Tournament.
On becoming the first women to compete in the Hornblower, Eleey said, “It was an honor to receive an invitation to the Hornblower. I was taken back at first, but when I got the phone call and the email from Mr. Ellis, it was such an honor to see that I would be one of the first women to play in such a prestigious event.”
Eleey added, “Just to be asked to play in it is such an honor and I am really excited to be able to play in it. It makes me happy because it shows that they truly support women’s golf.”
Similar remarks were made by Shannon Johnson, who advanced to the 2016 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur championship match and the semifinals of the same championship last year.
“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to play in one of the top invitational events in Massachusetts. I have followed the results from previous Hornblower tournaments, and look forward to being a part of it this year.”
The first round of the Hornblower Memorial Tournament kicks off on June 1 at Plymouth Country Club. The top-60 and ties will advance to the second and final round of competition on June 2.
You can learn more about the Hornblower Memorial by visiting: http://www.hornblowermemorial.com/