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SANDWICH, Massachusetts – The dynamic duo of Christine Gagner (The Tour) and Rita Bedard (Bedrock Golf Club) have done it again, winning the Labonte Four-Ball for the second consecutive year and notching their fifth title overall. Connie Hayton (The Tour) and Terry Durkin (Marloborough Country Club) claimed the net division title by a two shot margin.
While the competitive golf season may be drawing to an end in Massachusetts, the 49 team field enjoyed a pleasant autumn day at The Ridge Club on Cape Cod. The tournament utilizes a four-ball format, where players hit their own ball and the best score on the team is recorded. The event dates back to 1950, and in 1972 was renamed the “The Eleanor I. LaBonte” Tournament. LaBonte served as Executive Secretary of what was formerly known as the Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts (WGAM) for over 25 years and was Handicap Chairperson for 33 years. The tournament is open to two-women teams with both players having up to 54.0 Handicap Index.
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Gagner and Bedard got off to a hot start. Due to the shotgun format, they began their round on the par-5 18th hole, which Gagner birdied. Bedard followed that up with a birdie on the par-4 1st to get them to 2-under.
While the duo won by a comfortable four shot margin in 2022, this year’s tournament was a different story entirely. Several groups hovered around the even par/one-under mark for much of the day, leaving the final result in the balance down the stretch.
The defending champs’ chances of repeating were looking tenuous when a bogey on the par-4 13th dropped them to 1-over with four holes to play. However, Gagner proceeded to make a two on the par-3 14th and Bedard doubled down with a birdie of her own on the 15th to get them back into red figures.
Starting the round on the 18th meant finishing up on the nervy, island greened par-3 17th. While they made bogey to post even par 71, it was just enough to edge out two teams at plus-one: Kim Zenisky (TPC Boston) & Gina Murphy (TPC Boston) and Kim Walecka (Country Club of New Bedford) & Nicki Demakis (Country Club of New Bedford).
Meanwhile, in the net division, Connie Hayton and Terry Durkin carded net birdies on their first two holes (the 5th and 6th), before Hayton hit the shot of the day on the par-4 8th. She holed out for a gross eagle on the number one handicap hole, good for a net albatross to put the group at an incredible 5-under through four holes.
Each team member added two net birdies the rest of the way, allowing them to withstand two bogeys and post 7-under par 64. Two teams finished two-shots back at 5-under: Tony Bailey (Rochester Golf Course) & Kathleen Partridge (Norwood Country Club) and Val Casella (The Tour) & Sally DeGan (LPGA Amateurs Boston).
Course architect (and former Marlboro Man) Robert Von Hagge designed several notable golf courses around the world, including 2018 Ryder Cup host Le Golf National in Paris, France. Von Hagge’s design philosophy was heavily informed by aesthetics, which is quite evident on the beautiful grounds of the Ridge Club:
“We believe in vertical expression,” he said. “Great golf courses are beautiful golf courses. The only eternal thing is not grass or trees but the light of the sun. You have to create the shadow, hour by hour and to understand how the light will fall on the features you create. It’s very painterly. If a roll or a mound is shaped, the colors and shapes and how you use them define the shot and make it unique from moment to moment. We try to create every shot experience to be something you won’t see again. One of the first things we do when we see a new property is to say ‘Are there ugly things in the background and, if so, what can we do to hide the ugliness?’”
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