- Golfer Benefits
WALPOLE, Massachusetts – Doug Clapp and Pam Kuong are about as inseparable as a pair as you’ll find in a four-ball event. They’re each others’ biggest fans and constantly text back and forth when not together. Add their camaraderie, plus Clapp’s previous 33 years of being a member at Walpole Country Club, and it was the perfect formula for a victory Monday at the Mixed Four-Ball Championship for the Stone Cup.
Clapp made consecutive clutch birdie putts on holes 15 and 16, followed by back-to-back two-putt pars, to close out the pair’s second Mixed Four-Ball title in four years on a blustery day at Walpole Country Club. Even if Clapp was quarterbacking the team around the course, Kuong added some incredible par saves to help maintain a bogey-free card.
“It was just a clinic,” Kuong said. “Doug was putting great and we were pretty solid.”
First-time competitors Eric Quinn and Caitlin Barry, of Long Meadow Golf Club in Lowell, held the lead in the clubhouse for most of the day at 5-under 66. While it didn’t hold, they won the net title at 6-under, finishing T2 overall with Thorny Lea Golf Club standouts Matt Parziale and Shannon Johnson.
🏆 Champions Again 🏆
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) May 1, 2023
A year ago, Kuong was coming off a double knee replacement, and the Stone Cup was her first event back. Even if she wasn’t 100% last year, Clapp stuck with his playing partner, and they played their way into a three-way playoff at Andover Country Club. A year later, there was no doubt they were going to pursue another title together.
“He stuck with me last year, so I tried to prepare a little bit better this year,” said Kuong, the reigning Mass Golf Women’s Senior Player of the Year. “It’s such a great pairing. Doug is such a big confidence builder for me, and it’s always positive, and he’s always telling me ‘you can do the shots, it’s not a big deal, just pop it on and put it to a foot.’ He’s helped me a lot with my game.”
A year later and playing at a more familiar venue, Kuong and Clapp set a torrid pace that gave them much-needed separation in a loaded field. They made birdie on four of the first six holes and made the turn at 5-under. The last two birdies made the most difference. After a difficult breaking putt on the 15th, Clapp faced a shot from the left fairway into the wind on 16. He played a near-perfect draw into the green, and the ball rested about 6 feet from the cup. Though Kuong was in the back rough, she took some pressure off with an excellent chip to a foot and a tap-in for par. Clapp then hit a lightning-fast putt at the hole, and it fell to get the pair to 7-under.
“Any hole that moves left to right is not my favorite hole, so to make birdie there, that was pretty big,” Clapp said of the 16th.
With the greens softened from the weekend rain, Clapp said he was able to put more pace on his putts.
“I don’t think I would have made all those putts in an individual event, but I was able to take some of the break out of them today,” Clapp said. “That stuff frees you up and you make better strokes, and they start to go in.”
Often the most enjoyable golf is played with friends who feel relaxed and don’t put pressure on themselves. Such was the case with first-time entrants, Eric Quinn and Caitlin Barry who grew up working together in the pro shop at Long Meadow Golf Club. Based on their result, don’t be surprised to see them contend again in the future.
The pair sank seven birdies, with Quinn’s chip-in for eagle helping the pair lead the morning wave with a 5-under-par 66. After making a birdie right before the turn, they felt they were in for something special.
“We plugged along decently on the front nine, and when we made the turn we looked at each other and said ‘alright we can kind of do something,'” said Barry, a former standout at Rollins College, who now teaches and coaches golf at Billerica High School.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the day came on the 17th, when Barry sank a long, downhill birdie putt and punctuated it with a hop and a fist pump.
“It was honestly a lot of fun, like we never stressed, and we viewed it as a fun day,” Quinn said. “It was a new experience for me with the amount of adrenaline, but honestly it was really cool.”
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The Mixed Four-Ball championship was one of the first competitions that featured players from both the Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Golf Association. Both organizations have since merged to form Mass Golf.
The first playing was 1924 at Weston Golf Club, with 48 pairs competing in an alternate drive format. Clark Hodder and Glenna Collett, two of New England’s finest amateurs at the time, won medalist honors and got through the first few rounds of match play with relative ease. Despite heavy winds in the final round, Hodder and Collett prevailed over Elizabeth Gordon and Bert Hoxie, 4&3.
Hodder won the 1925 title with Gordon and went on to become president of the Massachusetts Golf Association in 1952. Collett won six U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships between 1922 and 1935, which is still a record, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975.
Over the years, several inductees into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame have earned the title: Jesse Guilford (with Jean Scribner), Joann Goodwin (with her brother Gerald Goodwin), and Pat Bradley (with Tom Monahan). Theodora ‘Pippy’ Rooney and Leo Grace were the first to win three straight titles, doing so from 1950-1952.
The event was elevated from a tournament to a Mass Golf championship in 2020.
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