- Golfer Benefits
NORTON, Massachusetts – When plans for building TPC Boston were released in 1999, the leader of Arnold Palmer’s design company Ed Seay said of the future course “you have to build ’em long for these young studs.”
That certainly holds true today. Set up at more than 7,200 yards from the tips, the course was built with championship golf in mind. And now for the first time, the Mass Open championship is set to take place at TPC Boston from June 12-14. The course, which will be set up at nearly 7,000 yards next week, has seen champions the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Steve Stricker, and many more in the 17 PGA Tour events it has hosted dating back to 2003.
The entire field, consisting largely of club and mini-tour professionals plus local amateurs, will compete in 36-holes of stroke play over the first two days of competition, with the low 50 and ties advancing to the final 18-hole round of stroke play June 14.
“This is a nice tournament; we feel comfortable with tournament golf,” said Kyle Elliott, the golf course superintendent at TPC Boston. “It’s a cool event because it seems like everybody who knows about golf locally knows about it and is excited about it.”
Elliott learned the insides and outs of the course from more than a decade working alongside longtime superintendent Tom Brodeur. Elliott said while the conditions have been dry due to minimal winter snow and spring rain, it’s playing firm and fast.
“It makes it fun to play,” Elliott said. “Our greens are tricky but they’re true. Guys are going to make a lot of putts. I don’t take that as an insult. I like to see good golfers make putts. When the pros are making putts, the greens are good.”
Because it’s designed for championship golf in mind, golfers will be faced with several risk-reward decisions, including the par-5 2nd with water along the right side that leaves the door open for reaching the green in two. Frankly, any hole could be a scoring hole or double digits. The rough and native areas can be penal, but they’re not jail. The length of its par-4s, including the 473-yard 14th — widely considered the club’s most difficult — will force many golfers to use mid-irons or more into the greens depending where they are.
Since 2007, Gil Hanse has been tasked with upgrading the course layout. Among the most recent changes was to the 12th. In addition to lengthening the hole and expanding the fairway (it’ll play as a 510-yard, par-5), the landing area was raised and the green was pushed back. Hanse also adjusted the 13th, tying in the left side and rebuilding the bunkers and greens.
“We wanted to give the last seven holes more of a links feel where you see 2-3 holes at a time,” Elliott said. “It has more of a championship feel, instead of standard wood-lined hole after wood-lined hole.”
Based on years of watching the world’s best play the course, Elliott predicts, “A good golfer wants to be around 2-under thru 2.” But he acknowledges that golfers are likely to face their fair share of both trouble and lucky bounces out there.
“It has a really good way of bringing random into play,” Elliott said. “It’s something we’ve always wanted to accomplish from a maintenance standpoint.”
Over the years, TPC Boston saw plenty of final rounds that came down to the 18th hole and even beyond that on the final day. The same might go for this year’s Mass Open, as past four champions have won the title by exactly one stroke.
Last year, Florida native Michael Kartrude overcome a one-stroke deficit on the 18th to take home the title. The past two years has nearly seen an amateur prevail for the first time since Kevin Quinn in 1999. Massachusetts amateurs Matthew Naumec (GreatHorse) and Ethan Whitney (Oak Hill Country Club) both played in the final group last year, and Naumec held the lead on the 18th hole (54th of competition).
Kartrude will be back to defend his title this year and will be joined by fellow past champions Michael Martel (2019), Jason Thresher (2016, 17, 18), Joe Harney (2015), Ian Thimble (2014), Kyle Gallo (2011), Jim Renner (2008), Fran Quinn (1990), and Andy Morse (1989, 1992). A Holden resident, Quinn played in the U.S. Open last year at age 57 and most recently played in the Mass Open two years ago. He still occasionally plays on the PGA Tour Champions. Renner, who played last year’s Mass Open, advanced to U.S. Open Final Qualifying, while Thresher has been in the mix in every Mass Open since first winning in 2016.
In addition to Naumec and Whitney, there will be plenty of young talent on display at the Mass Open. Vanderbilt commit Ryan Downes (GreatHorse) followed up last year’s runner-up performance in the Mass Amateur with a win in the Ouimet Memorial Tournament and this spring won the AJGA Justin Thomas Junior Championship. His future college teammate John Broderick (Dedham Country & Polo Club) is also in the field following up his Mass Junior Amateur victory last summer.
Rutgers’ Weston Jones (Charter Oak Country Club), who finished T12 last year, and Joey Lenane (George Wright Golf Course), a young phenom at North Carolina State, are also likely to bid for the title. Georgetown’s Jacob Finard (Pine Brook Country Club), St. Thomas Aquinas’ Nolan Skaggs (Plymouth Country Club) and USC graduate Jack Boulger (TPC Boston) also placed in the top 20 last year. The youngest player in the field is 16-year-old Matthew Olivera, who at 14 became the youngest-ever men’s club champion at Country Club of New Bedford. This fall, he lead Bishop Stang’s boys golf team to an MIAA Division 2 state title.
Young professionals Peter French (Maplegate Country Club) and Brendan Hunter (Red Tail Golf Club) had strong finishes last year, placing 7th and T12, respectively. They’ll be joined by mini tour players from all over, including Joey Lane and Brandon Berry, both from Great Falls, Virginia. Berry earned his first two pro wins earlier this winter.
The field will also feature several area golf professionals such as TPC Boston’s Don Baldassare, Christopher Tallman (GreatHorse); Thomas Sennett (Country Club of Pittsfield), and Fran Dully II, who has served as Kernwood Country Club’s head professional for the past 26 years and played in the first two rounds of the 2006 Deutsche Bank Classic at TPC Boston. Tallman recently played in U.S. Open Final Qualifying, while Sennett was the Assistant Pro of the Year for the Northeastern New York PGA.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
TPC Boston will be set up at approximately 6,992 yards and will play to a par of 36-36–-72.
TPC BOSTON HOLE BY HOLE
Note: Yardages subject to change.
A collection of notable players in the 2023 Mass Open:
a-JACK BOULGER, 23, a Walpole native and member of both TPC Boston and Walpole Country Club, recently graduated from University of Southern California. He finished in the top 20 in the past two Mass Open championships (11th, 2011; 17th 2022) and placed fourth in the 2022 Porter Cup, an elite amateur event in Niagara Falls. He will hit the first tee shot from Hole 1 on Monday.
FRAN QUINN, 58, a Holden resident and member of Worcester Country Club, is coming off a historic 2022 season when he qualified for the U.S. Open at The Country Club. Quinn still plays in PGA Tour Champions events, competing last weekend in the Principal Charity Classic in Iowa. Quinn won the 1990 Mass Open at Vesper Country Club.
JIM RENNER, 38, of Wrentham, won the Mass Open at Stockbridge Golf Club in 2008. He tallied the best finish of his touring career by placing T2 at the 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. This year, he played in U.S. Open Final Qualifying in New Jersey.
MICHAEL KARTRUDE, 33, of West Palm Beach, Florida, won the Mass Open by one stroke last year and will look to become the first person since Jason Thresher (2017, 2018) to win consecutive titles. In last year’s championship he tied the course record with an opening-round 64 at Longmeadow Country Club.
a-MATTHEW NAUMEC, 26, a Wilbraham native and member at GreatHorse, returned to the Mass Open last year, playing in the final group and finishing as the low amateur with scores of 65-67-69–201. Naumec, who regained his amateur status last year, made it to the quarterfinals of the 2022 Mass Amateur Championship.
MORGAN EGLOFF, 26, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, is a Division II Rollins College graduate and Maryland state amateur champion who has attracted a decent-sized following on social media. Egloff will try to to follow in his uncle’s footsteps. Back in 2005, Eric Egloff won the Mass Open at Vesper Country Club, prevailing in a 6-hole playoff.
RICH BERBERIAN, 32, a Hooksett, New Hampshire, resident and a member of Vesper Country Club, has won three NEPGA events this year including the opening 6,6,6 Format Tournament with James Scales at TPC Boston. Berberian has finished inside the top 25 in his last two Mass Open appearances (2019, 2021). His caddy will be Nik Kroisi, who caddied for Zac Blair when The Northern Trust was played at TPC Boston in 2020.
a-RYAN DOWNES, 17, a Longmeadow native and member at GreatHorse, is coming off a signature 2022 season. Downes, a Vanderbilt University commit, won the Ouimet Memorial Tournament and played in the final match of the Mass Amateur Championship, becoming the youngest player to do so. In April he won the AJGA Justin Thomas Junior Championship in Goshen, Kentucky.
a-JOSEPH LENANE, 19, a Dedham native and member at George Wright Golf Course, earned a spot in the starting lineup in his first year at North Carolina State. He made his Mass Open debut last year, shooting 1-under 69 in the opening round and finishing 38th.
FRANK DULLY II, 56, a Salem native and head golf professional at Kernwood Country Club, will make his 30th appearance all-time in the Mass Open. Dully played in the first two rounds of the 2006 Deutsche Bank Classic at TPC Boston, won by Tiger Woods. Dully, who has served as Kernwood’s head pro for over 25 years, has played in the last seven Mass Open championships. His son, Sean Dully, will also compete.
JASON THRESHER, 34, of West Suffield, Connecticut, won three consecutive Mass Open titles between 2016 and 2018. Since then he has finished in the top 11 each of the past three championships, included a T2 finish in 2021 at Oak Hill. He also won the Western Mass Open last year.
a-ETHAN WHITNEY, 20, a Westminster native and member of Oak Hill Country Club, matched the course record of 64 at Longmeadow Country Club in the first round of last year’s Mass Open. Playing in the final group, Whitney finished fourth overall, his best-ever finish in the event. The rising junior at Temple University also made it into the Round of 16 at the Mass Amateur Championship, later caddying for eventual champion Conner Willett.
a-CONNER WILLETT, 20, a Wellesley native and member of Charles River Country Club, captured an emotional victory in the 2022 Massachusetts Amateur Championship, just days after his father passed away unexpectedly. A rising junior at Georgetown, Willett caddied for Whitney in last year’s Mass Open.
MIKE VAN SICKLE, 36, a professional golf instructor from Wexford, Pennsylvania, has finished in the top 20 of the Mass Open each of the past three years. Last year was his best finish (T5) as he tied the course record of 6-under 64 in the final round. Known for his colorful pants, Van Sickle placed T15 in 2021 at Oak Hill that included a round of 66. He also played in U.S. Open Final Qualifying this week.