- Golfer Benefits
HYANNISPORT/WEST YARMOUTH, Massachusetts – After more than three decades, the Mass Four-Ball championship made its long-awaited return to the prestigious seaside Hyannisport Club, with Bayberry Hills Golf Course co-hosting for the first time.
With conditions calmer (and warmer) than what’s expected for Cape Cod in the spring, Tuesday’s first round action saw more than half the field finish under-par. That list of players includes former U.S. Soccer star Taylor Twellman competing in a Mass Golf event for the first time, while former NHL standout Ryan Whitney was paired in the same group.
One year after Westford native Morgan Smith became the first female to play in the Mass Four-Ball, she made history again by joining her sister Molly Smith to become the first female duo to compete in the 42-year championship history.
But holding the overnight lead at 9-under is the Western Mass duo of Cody Booska and Andy Lesenski, who grew up playing at Country Club of Greenfield. Booska and Lesenski had some nervy moments down the stretch, but by making clutch par saves on the 16th and 17th, and getting a huge break that led to a birdie on the 18th, they finished with a 62 at Hyannisport.
In the past seven years, the team that has gone on to win the Mass Four-Ball has had at least a share of the lead after round 1. The lead is far from comfortable though as Thomas Harrison and Steven Tasho are one back after finishing with the best score at Bayberry Hills (8-under 64). Five teams currently stand at 7-under, including Whitney and Andrew DiRamio and past U.S. Four-Ball competitors Mike Calef and Kyle Tibbetts.
Round 2 begins at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, with each side flipping courses.
On Tuesday, it was a true combination of luck and skill that got Booska (Crumpin Fox Club) and Lesenski (CC of Greenfield) in the lead.
Lesenski, a past Western Mass Open champion, got his team in the right direction by making three eagles spread throughout the round. After holing out from about 45 yards on the short par-4 2nd hole, he made another on the par-5 6th, and then drove the green on the par-4 13th and made a 25-foot putt to earn them a share of the lead at the time. They also helped offset two bogies on the front nine.
However, it often takes more than skill to take the lead in a championship. Despite a mishit on his approach, Booska managed to get up and down from the bunker on the 16th, and Lesenski did the same from the front rough on the par-3 17th.
But they truly lucked out on the 18th. With Lesesnki in the right greenside bunker, Booska skulled a wedge shot inside 50 yards that was on line for the bunker as well. However, it hit another ball from somebody in his group already on the green and rested around 10 feet above the cup. Booska confidently stepped up and made it to give them the best score of the day.
“Those par saves down the stretch were huge for our momentum, and we stole that one on 18, so it was nice,” said Booska, a past Invitational Four-Ball winner at Greenfield. “I feel good about 9-under. Sometimes you’d rather be lucky than good in this game, so I’ll take it.”
Booska isn’t entirely unfamiliar with the lead. He was medalist in the 2017 Mass Amateur and runner-up in a playoff 2017 Amateur Public Links. There may be a gap between those performances, but now he has another chance to capture a statewide victory.
“It’s been a couple years since I’ve had the competitive juices flowing, so to get back into it is awesome, so I’m excited to go into Round 2 tomorrow,” Booska said.
Ryan Whitney couldn’t help but laugh. Though he had a makable birdie putt to get his team to 7-under on the 18th, his partner Andrew DiRamio told him not to worry. Despite laying two in the left greenside bunker, DiRamio had the perfect swing, as it hit the left side of the green online and rolled down the cup and into the cup for birdie, prompting Whitney reach to the skies and shout “Thank You!!”
“That was all Captain Action,” said Whitney referring to his new moniker for DiRamio. “That’s what this guy does. He putts one handed, he comes up in the clutch. It’s an amazing shot that I’m still laughing at.”
DiRamio, who nearly eagled the 16th after his second shot rolled about 50 feet onto the green, said he enjoyed having the opportunity to play in a group that had two former team pro athletes.
“It helps playing with good guys, and my partner was very encouraging the whole way, like he always is, and it was a lot of fun that turned into some good golf,” DiRamio said.
Whitney and DiRamio, who have qualified for the U.S. Four-Ball in the past, said they felt good making the turn at 4-under, thanks in part to birdies from Whitney on the 6th and 8th. Realizing that wind conditions were calmer than normal they knew they’d have to have an equally-strong back nine, and DiRamio answered the call.
“It’s usually 20mph minimum here, and because of that I knew the scores would be pretty low,” Whitney said.
“I think it’s the best course on the Cape,” he added. “The greens are amazing for this time a year, so it’s a pretty cool event for this time of year.”
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The teams of Steve Tasho Jr. and Thomas Harrison will have their shot at Hyannisport tomorrow after making nine birdies en route to a 8-under 64 at Bayberry. Harrison had a string of birdies from 11-13, and Tasho’s birdie on the 17th got the pair to 8-under.
“We were both in play all day,” Tasho said. “Tommy hit it well and got hot on the back, and we gave ourselves a lot of good looks at it.”
Tasho’s father, Steve Tasho, has won the event in the past, and now his son has a shot to add his name to the list of Mass Golf winners.
“He won it back in the 80s with my Uncle Bruce [Chalas], so I’m looking forward to playing a lot of Mass Golf events this summer and getting a lot of support with the guys from Thorny Lea,” the junior Tasho said.
As if Tuesday couldn’t get more spectacular, Molly Smith and Morgan Smith became the first all-female team to play in the Mass Four-Ball, hitting their opening tee shots from the 10th tee at Hyannisport.
Morgan, who has committed to Georgetown University, finished T32 in the event last year with Westford Academy teammate Maxwell Johnson (Renaissance), but this year had her sister Molly by her side to compete.
Molly, who has committed to University of Central Florida, got the pair’s first birdie on the 18th and followed up with another on the 2nd. The pair added another on the 6th to finish 1-over 73, with another 18 holes remaining for them to make a run up the leaderboard.
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Perhaps the most celebrated past golf champion of this event was on site at Bayberry Hills on Tuesday, though not as a participant. Yarmouth native Jim Hallet won the 1982 and 1983 Mass Four-Ball with Bryant University teammate Rick Edwards (Hallet calls him Steady Eddie), and won the Mass Amateur those years as well. At Bryant, Hallet won five consecutive New England Intercollegiate individual championships.
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of Hallet finishing as low amateur at the Masters.
The former Dennis-Yarmouth High School standout has now settled in back home, spending the past 15 years teaching and sharing him love for the game with others.
“This place is immaculate right now; they’ve done a super job,” Hallet said of Bayberry Hills. “I’ve always loved Mass Golf, all the events and employees, and I’m happy to have this event back here on the Cape. The size of the field now is amazing; back then it was 32 teams in match play who competed over two weekends. But I think medal play really brings out the best and makes it more challenging.”
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Sixteen of the last 19 United States presidents have played golf. Among John F. Kennedy’s favorite spots to play the game was Hyannisport Club, located nearby the Kennedy Compound. Weary of criticism for playing golf while running for president (his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower was publicly criticized for his golf obsession), Kennedy would usually play spontaneously. During the 1960 campaign, Kennedy came within six inches of an ace, and as the story goes, Kennedy looked in horror, worrying that news of his love for golf would sink his political ambitions.
On display at the USGA Hall of Fame & Museum is Kennedy’s 4-iron with a display that reads, “Unlike most other Presidents, John F. Kennedy took up golf in his teen years. Despite recurring back problems, he had a fluid, graceful swing and constituency scored in the high 70s and 80s.”
CLICK HERE to learn more about Kennedy’s connection to golf in Massachusetts, specifically Hyannisport Club.
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Bayberry Hills is a popular municipal golf course set in the middle of Cape Cod in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, a stone’s throw from Route 6. The Geoffrey Cornish and Brian Silva designed golf course opened in 1986 and is operated by the town of Yarmouth in conjunction with Bass River Golf Course.
The Championship Course (The Winds & The Sands) has a healthy mix with four par-5s and four par-3s, playing to a par of 72 and stretching close to 7,200 yards (6,616 yards on Tuesday). On the east side of the property is the Old Tom Morris-inspired 9-hole Links course, which is set to undergo a renovation (irrigation, bunkers, etc.) within the next couple years.
This week, golfers in the field will face only one hole with water at Bayberry, the par-4 4th, 385 yards, but that happens to be the No. 1 handicap hole. After the tee shot, golfers are faced with either going for the green or laying up to small landing area on the left.
“You have to be precise off the tee, and with the pond in front, it’s tricky to get it on the green in regulation,” said Dennis Hoye, the manager head golf professional at Bayberry Hills.
Bayberry has hosted several Mass Golf and USGA qualifying events over the years (it will host a 2024 U.S. Four-Ball qualifier on Aug. 29, 2023), but this is the first time the course has hosted the Mass Four-Ball.
“For us, it’s a thrill to have this event here,” Hoye said. “I remember this from when I was a kid playing in this event. A lot of guys playing in this event played in the Cranberry Valley Four-Ball that I used to run, so it’s an exciting time down here. Teaming up with Hyannisport is exciting.”
Special thanks to Bayberry’s members who volunteered in shuttling golfers back and forth from the clubhouse.
Bayberry Hills looking quite nice this time of year.#MassFourBall | #MassGolf pic.twitter.com/mvzQbX3Pa0
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) April 25, 2023
Did You Know?: Twin brothers Jon and Carter Fasick have won the Mass Four-Ball four times as part of their lengthy amateur accolades. It was 32 years ago when the event was last contested at Hyannisport (Wianno Club co-hosted), when the Fasicks won second of four titles three strokes clear of the field. Sandy Dowling, who was president of the Massachusetts Golf Association at the time, finished T2 in the event.
Seagulls Four-Ball: Several competitors in the field got themselves ready for this week by playing in the Seagulls Four-Ball at Hyannisport Club, historically the first regional event on the schedule for area golfers. Though they’re playing on separate teams this week, Colin Andrade (The Ridge Club) and Greg Everson (Barnstable Golf) won the Championship Flight, defeating the team of Ricky Stimets and Kevin Blaser in the process.
Great Start: How’s this for your first Mass Golf event? Harry Poster (Newton Commonwealth), a former Hofstra University golfer, got the first round started by holing out for eagle on the par-4 10th at Hyannisport, getting himself and his partner Mack Freedman (Thorny Lea) to the top of the leaderboard early.
Course Stats: Here are some statistics for the field on Day 1 of the Mass Four Ball.
Hyannisport: – 20 eagles, 374 birdies, 1,655 pars; hardest hole: 403-yard, par-4 12th (stroke average 4.46, 5 birdies, 87 pars).
Bayberry – 9 eagles, 385 birdies, 1,805 pars; hardest hole: 420-yard, par-4 1st (stroke average 4.39, 12 birdies, 92 pars).
Visit MassGolf.org and follow @PlayMassGolf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest information on this week’s Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship at Hyannisport Club and Bayberry Hills Golf Course. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #MassGolf and #MassFourBall.