- Golfer Benefits
A year ago, Nick Maccario (Bradford Country Club) walked into a Golf Galaxy store to get new grips and while checking out noticed Golf Channel discussing the high-profile college golfers on winter break who are competing in the prestigious Jones Cup Invitational.
Unbeknownst to those in the store, the mid-amateur standout was also getting set to compete in the prestigious 54-hole championship at Ocean Forest Golf Club on Sea Island, Georgia. The event started in 2001 as a way to celebrate the amateur game, and it coincided with the year Ocean Forest hosted the Walker Cup. Notable past Jones Cup winners include Beau Hossler, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, and Corey Conners.
When it comes to amateur golf, invitations are king, and since the Jones Cup kicks off the major national amateur circuit for the 2023 season, it’s a recognition of golfers who have played some spectacular golf over the past year. For the third straight year, that list includes Maccario, the 2020 Mass Golf Player of the Year, who will begin play in Round 1 today (Friday).
“It’s an awesome place to be able to come down and try to start the year off well,” said Maccario, whose top national finish last year was 7th in the Gasparilla Invitational. “The membership is awesome. The director of golf, John Wade, and his team roll out the red carpet. Anytime you show up and people know your name and say ‘hey, welcome back, we love to have you’ is really special.”
Located along the northern tip of Sea Island in coastal Georgia, Ocean Forest has been the sole host site. The event typically takes place in February but was moved up this year due to planned renovations in February.
Maccario said the course reminds him of the inner, tree-lined portion of The Kittansett Club, where Maccario competed in the finals of the 2020 Mass Amateur. Like Kittansett, managing the wind is vital at Ocean Forest, especially on holes like the 480-yard par-4 4th, which has given Maccario fits in the past.
“It sneaks up on people,” Maccario said. “It’s usually into the wind, hazards on the left, bunkers on the right. It’s just a demanding hole start to finish. If I can play that remotely close to even-par, I think it’d be a big positive.”
Maccario is counting on his past two experiences to continue improving on previous finishes (80th and 60th in 2021 and 2022, respectively). He also pointed out the three par-3s, two of which play beyond 180-yards and often into the wind. Playing those well can help him gain strokes, he said.
An avid fan of Duke athletics, Maccario happens to be paired with William Love, who signed with the Blue Devils as the top ranked player in his class in Georgia by Junior Golf Scoreboard and previously qualified for the U.S. Amateur at age 15.
As expected, there’s tremendous honor and recognition that goes to the victor. But there’s also a prestigious exemption into the RSM Classic, the PGA Tour event hosted by the Davis Love Foundation at Sea Island in November.
“Having an exemption in the RSM Classic is a game-changer and helps set the Jones Cup Invitational apart from other top-level amateur tournaments,” said Wade, the tournament’s director.
Regardless of how he finishes, 2023 is shaping up to be a landmark year for Maccario. Not only will he be competing locally in this year’s Mass Open at TPC Boston and Mass Amateur at Essex County Club, but he’ll also be getting married later this fall, naturally on a golf course: GreatHorse in Hampden.
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Skoler Competes In International Women’s Amateur
Rebecca Skoler (Pine Brook Country Club), the young phenom at the University of Virginia, is also in action this week, as she’s representing her squad at the Orlando International Women’s Amateur. The Orlando International Amateur (OIA) Series are high-level amateur golf tournaments gathering some of the best amateur golfers in the U.S. and internationally.
Skoler, now in her junior year for UVA, shot 78 and 76 in her two rounds Wednesday and Thursday but missed Friday’s final cut by six strokes. Still, she is primed for strong 2023 campaign following her victory in the Mass Women’s Stroke Play Championship winner and placing runner-up in the Mass Women’s Amateur.
Scoring Link: bit.ly/3X6GcMd