Preview: 112th Massachusetts Open Championship - MASSGOLF

Mass Open Championship returns to Longmeadow Country Club For First Time In 20 years

LONGMEADOW, Massachusetts – The 112th Mass Open will return to Longmeadow Country Club for the first time since 2002 when the championship is held from Wednesday, June 8 to Friday, June 10. The scenic countryside course located in the Connecticut River Valley of Western Massachusetts will host 150 amateur and professional standouts predominately from Massachusetts and New England.

The entire field will compete in 36-holes of stroke play, with the low 50 and ties advancing to the final round of stroke play on June 10. The championship will be an appetizer for the following week when the U.S. Open takes place at the The Country Club in Brookline for the fourth time in history.

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Longmeadow, which is celebrating its centennial this year, also hosted the Mass Open in 1946, 1982 and 2002. While much has changed in the game from playing styles to equipment the Donald Ross-designed track has maintained its original routing. While slight lengthening, bunker renovations, and tree removal have improved course conditions, the position of greens and fairways largely remain in tact from when Ross associate Walter Hatch drew out the course in 1921. The first nine holes opened in 1922, with the full course playable by 1924.

An overhead view of the front nine at Longmeadow Country Club. Longmeadow Brooks runs between the par-5 3rd and par-4 6th. (Mass Golf)

Featured holes include the 601-yard, par-5 3rd; the challenging and lengthy dogleg left on the 8th (447-yards) with a small green; the par-3, 16th with a two-tiered green surrounded by bunkers that will likely result in strokes lost for any errant shots; and the par-4 17th, a dogleg right-to-left that plays into a tight green and is the only hole on the course without bunkers. In total, the course will play to a par-70 and laid out at approximately at 6,756-yards. 

“We’re really looking forward to seeing some fabulous golf,” said Milton Reach III, a third-generation Longmeadow Country Club member and club historian. “It’s a totally different world now the way these guys play. We’re going to be interested to see how they handle the course and how they score and what it takes to win. It’s a very fair golf course. You understand the concept when you stand on those tees.” 


CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY AT LONGMEADOW

The club itself is packed with compelling championship history dating back to its first state championship in the 1940s.

Leo J. Martin won the 1941 Mass Amateur at Longmeadow by defeating Milton Reach, Jr., whose father founded the club in 1922. Reach still made headlines that year as he captured a stunning victory in his semifinal match against then-defending champion Ted Bishop, an eventual Hall of Famer who went on to win the 1946 U.S. Amateur. “I’d win about one match from you in 10, Ted,” Reach Jr. reportedly said after his victory. Martin, meanwhile, had built a rivalry with Bishop, as the two preeminent amateur golfers in the state. Martin’s win, though triumphant, was also his last as he tragically died while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. The trophy remained in the Martin household until it was contested for again in 1946. 

As it was the first Mass Amateur held in Western Massachusetts, the championship also inspired several area clubs — Ludlow Country Club, Franconia Golf Course, Orchards Golf Club and Holyoke Country Club — to join what was then the Massachusetts Golf Association (MGA).

“These clubs were trying to survive, and [the Mass Amateur] was a success from the spectators’ and players’ standpoint, that it encouraged these clubs to re-up with the MGA,” Reach said.

Five years later, Longmeadow was selected to host the Mass Open as it made its return after a hiatus for World War II from 1942 to 1946. Ellsworth Vines, a former tennis pro, won the title in an 18-hole playoff against Springfield’s Jerry Gianferante, who later won two New England PGA Sectional titles.

Ellsworth Vines won the 1946 Mass Open at Longmeadow Country Club. (Contributed)

When the state Open returned to Longmeadow in 1982, Rhode Island pro Dana Quigley set a championship record with a 54-hole total of 5-under 205 for a six-stroke victory. It was the first of three straight wins for Quigley. In 2002, Geoff Sisk reached the halfway point of his record-tying six Mass Open titles, with a bogey-free final round at Longmeadow.

Longmeadow was also the host site for the 1995 U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur and 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur, won by Marcy Hart (nee: Newton) and Kevin Tway, respectively. Tway currently plays on the PGA Tour with Sam Saunders and Russell Henley who also played in the championship.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for the club to come together,” said Roberta Bolduc, a Longmeadow member and former chair of the USGA’s Women’s Committee. “The big takeaway for us was how much the members enjoyed doing it. People walked around all the time with smiles on their faces. During the Girls’ Junior, many of our members caddied, they immediately adopted their player, and they were friends forever.”

Kevin Tway, then 17 years old, is interviewed after winning the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur at Longmeadow Country Club. (USGA/Sam Greenwood)

EVENT PREVIEW

The Mass Open made its return last year after being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Oak Hill Country Club in Fitchburg played host to the state championship for the record-tying seventh time in its history. The championship came down to race among six standouts, including Milton’s Ben Spitz (George Wright Golf Course), who took low amateur honors. Breaking the trend of recent years, age prevailed as New York’s Rob Labritz captured the title just two weeks after turning 50. Spitz and four others finished one stroke back at T2.

Labritz will not return in 2022 as he currently has status on the PGA Tour Champions, leaving the door open for a different champion this year.

Past champions in the field include Michael Martel (2019), Jason Thresher (2016, 17, 18), Joe Harney (2015), Ian Thimble (2014), Kyle Gallo (2011), Jim Renner (2008), and Andy Morse (1989, 1992). Thimble knows Longmeadow well as he played in the 2013 Mass Amateur at Longmeadow and made it to the final match as the No. 32 seed. This year he’s even paired with the man who beat him: Mike Calef (Pine Oaks Golf Course).

“Longmeadow is a solid New England course,” Thimble said. “It’s scorable if you’re playing well, and it’s not if you’re off.”

Thimble remembers hole 17 in particular. Despite making double bogey during an 8 for 5 playoff for the final spots in match play, he still grabbed the final spot. During one of his matches, he even chipped in on 17 to close out his opponent.

After spending the winter at The Dye Preserve Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, Thimble said the Mass Open is typically the start of his competitive season. “It’s one of the best state opens in the country,” said Thimble, who missed the cut by two strokes last year. “Sometimes I’ve been rusty, but this year, I’ve tried to make changes coming into this event to be more ready.”

Ian Thimble won the 2014 Mass Open and was the runner-up at the 2013 Mass Amateur held at Longmeadow Country Club. (David Colt, file)

Several promising golfers from Massachusetts who are exempt for the Mass Open will first take part in 36-hole U.S. Open Final Qualifying on Monday, June 6 for the opportunity of a lifetime — playing in the U.S. Open in their home state. Among those are Owen Quinn (Worcester Country Club), of Holden, as well as amateur Chris Francouer (Amesbury Golf & Country Club), a University of Louisville graduate student.

Other young standouts include amateurs like Rutgers University’s Xavier Marcoux (Concord Country Club) and Weston Jones (Charter Oak Country Club), UConn’s Eric Boulger (Walpole Country Club) and his brother Jack Boulger (Walpole Country Club), who just finished his senior year at University of Southern California, and Colin Spencer, a UConn commit and reigning Mass Junior Amateur champion.

The field will also feature several area golf professionals such as Billy Downes (GreatHorse); Christopher Tallman and Dan Morgan (Orchards Golf Club); Thomas Sennett (Country Club of Pittsfield); Justin Kumpulanian (Taconic Golf Club); and Longmeadow head golf pro Brian Keiser. 

Aside from offering live scoring updates on its website, Mass Golf will provide Mass Open updates via its social media outlets as well as photos of the competitors. Follow @PlayMassGolf on Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtag #MassOpen when posting.

The Mass Open is open to all media. For more information, contact Steve Derderian, Mass Golf Manager of Communications at 774-265-9130  or via email at sderderian@massgolf.org


WATCH: HOLE-BY-HOLE FLYOVERS – LONGMEADOW COUNTRY CLUB

SCORECARD

Longmeadow Country Club will be set up at approximately 6,756 yards and will play to a par of 35-35–-70.

LONGMEADOW COUNTRY CLUB HOLE BY HOLE 

Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Total
Par 4 4 5 3 4 4 3 4 4 35
Yards 436 439 601 134 318 453 185 447 439 3216

 

Hole 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Total
Par 5 4 4 3 4 4 3 4 4 35
Yards 483 422 449 228 362 401 140 426 393 3403

Note: Yardages subject to change.


PLAYER NOTES

A collection of notable players in the 2022 Mass Open:

JIM RENNER, 38, a Plainville native and member of TPC Boston, will make his first appearance in the Mass Open since 2018. Renner won the Mass Open at Stockbridge Golf Club in 2008. He tallied the best finish of his career by placing T2 at the 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

BILLY WALTHOUSE, 27, a Longmeadow native and member of both Longmeadow Country Club and GreatHorse, is a former University of Rhode Island standout who currently plays on PGA Tour Canada. Walthouse will play in his first Mass Open since 2018. In 2017, he was low amateur at the Mass Open won the Hornblower Memorial Golf Tournament, and placed T2 at the New England Amateur.

a-MATTHEW NAUMEC, 25, a Wilbraham native and member at GreatHorse, will make his first appearance in the Mass Open since 2018, when the Championship Proper was held at his home course. Naumec turned pro after graduating from Boston College and qualified for the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

FLETCHER BABCOCK, 29, a golf professional from Danielson, Connecticut, won the 2021 Connecticut PGA Open and set a competitive course record of 65 at Gillette Ridge Golf Club. He also finished runner-up in the 2021 Cape Cod Open. This year, he was co-medalist at the U.S. Open Local Qualifier at Kirkbrae Country Club (RI).

a-JOSEPH LENANE, 18, a Dedham native and member at KOHR Golf Center, was the New England high school golf champion this past fall and has committed to North Carolina State. In 2021, Lenane also qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur, earned stroke-play medalist in the Mass Junior Amateur, and won the prestigious Tarlow Invitational.

OWEN QUINN, 24, a Holden native and member of Worcester Country Club, qualified for U.S. Open Final Qualifying earlier this year alongside his father Fran Quinn, who plays on the PGA Tour Champions. A Lehigh University graduate, Quinn won the 2018 Mass Amateur Public Links and has won three consecutive Worcester County Amateur titles. He turned professional late last year.

a-XAVIER MARCOUX, 21, a Concord native and member of Nashawtuc Country Club, is a rising senior and captain of the Rutgers University men’s golf team and was a Division I PING All-Region Team selection this season. Marcoux also won the 2019 New England Amateur Championship and played in the 2021 U.S. Amateur Championship. He qualified for the U.S. Amateur at Longmeadow. 

a-MATT PARZIALE, 34, a Brockton native and member of Thorny Lea Golf Club, will pursue his first Mass Open title after coming close in past years. Parziale, a seven-time Mass Golf Player of the Year, has finished T2 twice in the Mass Open (2014 and 2015) and finished 5th in 2016. In 2018 and 2019, Parziale played in the U.S. Open after earning exemptions from winning the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.

a-MIKE CALEF, 43, of Pine Oaks Golf Club in South Easton, won the 2013 Mass Amateur at Longmeadow and has been a solid mainstay on the amateur scene for the past decade. Calef and Nick Maccario recently made it to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in Birmingham, Alabama.

SHAWN WARREN, 37, a teaching professional from Windham, Maine, is coming off his third career appearance in the 2022 PGA Championship. The top competitive golfer in the Pine Tree State, Warren qualified by placing top 20 in the PGA Professionals Championship.

a-SASCHA ROBINSON, 16, a Plymouth native and member of Plymouth Country Club, is the youngest player in the field. Robinson won the 2019 Mass Young Golfers’ Amateur Championship at The Cape Club of Sharon.

a-BRUCE CARTER, 68, a Worcester resident and member of Green Hill Municipal Golf Course, is the oldest player in the field and is currently among the best super senior players (ages 65+) in the state.

a-BUD SCHULTZ, 57, a Hingham resident and member of Black Rock Country Club, is a former professional tennis player and head coach of the World Team Tennis’ Boston Lobsters. Schultz, an All-American at Bates College, competed in four Grand Slam events and advanced to at least the third round of the U.S. Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open. Schultz owns Cohasset Tennis Club and was inducted into the New England Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003.

a-WESTON JONES, 18, a Sudbury native and member of Charter Oak Country Club, was the 2021 Mass Golf Christopher Cutler Rich Junior Player of the Year and No. 1 overall signee for the Class of 2021 in Massachusetts. In his first season at Rutgers University, Jones had a 73.24 scoring average, the lowest scoring average for a freshman in program history. Last year, Jones won the Mass Four-Ball with John Broderick and qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship.

BILLY DOWNES, 56, a Longmeadow native and the head golf professional at GreatHorse played in the 2002 Mass Open at Longmeadow. In 1994, he tied for 6th place in the PGA Tour’s New England Classic at Pleasant Valley Country Club. He then continued with four full seasons on The Nike Tour, finishing in second-place at his best.

JEFF CURL, 43, a golf professional from Birmingham, Alabama, is probably one of the more well-traveled golfers of the field. But he’s also one of few Native American professional golfers. Curl, who placed 56th in the 2012 U.S. Open, is a member of the Northern Wintu tribe of Northern California. He’s the youngest son of Rod Curl, who was the first full-blooded Native American to win a PGA Tour event. In the 1974 Colonial National Invitational, Rod Curl edged Jack Nicklaus by one stroke. Curl advanced to U.S. Open Final Qualifying in 2021 through a Local Qualifier at Crumpin-Fox.

SOCIAL MEDIA

For complete coverage of the Massachusetts Open Championship, visit MassGolf.org or follow Mass Golf on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @PlayMassGolf and hashtag #MassOpen.