- Golfer Benefits
LONGMEADOW, Massachusetts – For Billy Walthouse this year’s trip to the Massachusetts Open has been a long time coming.
Walthouse, a member at host site Longmeadow Country Club (and GreatHorse), is making his first appearance in the event since 2018 this week, representing a chance to win not only for the first time but also at the course where he first started caddying years ago.
The 112th Mass Open Championship marks his return to New England competition after he played exclusively on PGA Tour Canada for a few seasons. It’s also a personal goal for the Longmeadow native, who took time off during the winter for the first time in his career and is now shifting back to full-time golf.
“I’ve always loved competing in Mass Golf events,” said Walthouse, who was low amateur in the 2017 Mass Open. “Unfortunately, based on the tour that I was on, it never gave me the opportunity to play based on scheduling. But things being a little different this year, I was looking at my schedule for this summer back in the winter, and just being able to compete in your state open, that was really the big one I had on my schedule. This is one that I really wanted to compete in again.”
Making it even better is playing at the course where he learned to “really appreciate and love the game.”
His journey to becoming a four-year standout at the University of Rhode Island began at Longmeadow Country Club with the Longmeadow High School golf team. In 2010 and 2011, he was the first golfer in more than 50 years to win the Western Massachusetts Division I Golf Championship in back-to-back years.
Walthouse moved on to URI in 2013, where his list of accomplishments included an individual NCAA Tournament appearance, a 2016 New England Golfer of the Year selection, and multiple nominations to the PING All-Northeast and Atlantic 10 All-Conference teams.
He turned professional soon after graduating in 2017 but found that the transition to a new lifestyle required more of an adjustment than he initially anticipated. Walthouse struggled to establish a routine for himself after having much of his time pre-planned as a college student, and it took him time to learn how to manage the hours in his day, he said.
He found that setting a daily schedule for himself was the key to getting ahead as a pro.
“Once I was able to do that and figure out how I wanted to do it and get into a little rhythm, that’s when it started,” Walthouse said. “That’s when I started noticing that I was playing better, feeling better about myself, and that I was on the right path.”
After getting into a groove during his first pro seasons, he again found himself having to adapt once the COVID-19 pandemic altered routines across the globe both on and off the course.
Adjusting post-pandemic prompted him to take his first significant break in years from play last winter ahead of the summer season. He flocked south for the colder months and spent them working at a golf course in Florida where he could put the clubs away and play a round when the time was right.
“I was at the point where I needed a little mental reset, and it couldn’t have worked out any better,” Walthouse said. “It was really nice and did exactly what I was looking for. I kind of got the itch back, and they were very nice and allowed me to take the winter off and come play a competitive schedule again in the summer.”
Now that he’s back in the swing of things, Walthouse has several mini-tour events and New England-area competitions to look forward to, including Travelers Championship qualifying, the New Hampshire Open, and potentially the Rhode Island Open.
But for now, he’s keeping a focus on the championship at his longtime club.
“It feels like I’m at home playing at this golf course,” Walthouse said. “It is nice that I’ve played a lot of rounds out there, but I just feel it’s a comfort for me to be able to compete at a place I’ve played for so many years.
“I’ve always wanted to win the Mass Open, but to do it at a place like Longmeadow where I fell in love with the game would just make it that much more special.”