Preview: 114th Massachusetts Open Championship - MASSGOLF

Cape Cod’s Willowbend Primed To Host Mass Open Championship For First Time In Its History

By Steve Derderian

MASHPEE, Massachusetts (June 7, 2024) – An ancient piece of wisdom from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu says that a strong wind may topple the sturdy oak, but the willow bends and lets the wind pass through.

The 114th playing of the Massachusetts Open Championship, set for June 10-12, will be a three-day tempest, a true test of skill and resilience, contested for the first time upon a gorgeous setting with firm greens, shifting winds, and quintessential Cape Cod hazards and features at the mononymous club called Willowbend.

The field, consisting mainly of club and mini-tour professionals and standout 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 on Wednesday. In recent years, the event has come down to who can hold their nerve the best on the final holes. Once again, the player that will hoist the trophy will be the one who might bend but stands strongest through the storm, much like the willow tree. 

“Collectively, we all feel so privileged to host this, and we’re excited to see how they fare on the golf course,” said Michael Carroll, Willowbend’s Director of Golf. “I think we’re all pretty confident that this golf course, despite what it gives up in length (approx. 6,300 yards), will make up for it in smart design and excellent care.”

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An overhead view of Holes 1 and 2 of the Bay Course at Willowbend. (Mass Golf)

Willowbend offers 27 holes of championship golf on three meticulously maintained nines (Bay, Bog, and Bend). The Bay and Bog routings are being utilized for this year’s championship. The iconic 9th hole on the Bog course ends with the backdrop of a rustic red barn and island green surrounded by one of the property’s several cranberry bogs.

The original layout, designed by Michael Hurdzan, debuted in the late 1980s, featuring the Bend course and most of the Bog course. In 2001, local architect Bruce Besse Jr. designed holes 2-8 on the Bay Course and 7 & 8 on the Bog, the latter being two of the final three holes of the back nine.

The lone par 5s are the 1st and 18th (Bay 1 and Bog 9), and tucked in between are a variety of holes, including some drivable 4s and sneaky par 3s with small greens that can wreak havoc on one’s round.

“It’s not a golf course where you just hit driver, wedge over and over again,” said Michael Vidal, Willowbend’s Assistant GM & Director of Membership. “You have to use every club in your bag. You have to position yourself, and not only is it going to test their physical ability, but it’s going to test their mental ability to play this golf course the way it’s meant to be played.”

The iconic island green on the Bog 9th serves as the closing hole at Willowbend. (David Colt, file)

In recent years, the agronomy team led by Matt Klida has taken out several trees to improve sightlines by the nearby saltwater bay and provide more sunlight for the turf. He’s also placed pine straw on the edges of the holes, a nod to southern courses.

“It’s early June, and the golf course is already in the middle of summer peak shape,” Vidal said. “It’ll be interesting to see who takes some risks and who doesn’t and how they fare.”

Kilda said the greens have been rolling between 12 and 13 on the Stimpmeter all week, with rough about 3 inches. After a cut at the end of the week, they will likely be left untouched for the remainder of the tournament.

“I want it to be a fair test, nothing particularly tricked up,” Kilda said. The greens will be consistent every day. That’s what I pride myself on here. You could bring your friends out here on a Tuesday, and you’ll get the same thing as a Saturday here.”

“I think it’s a great use of the terrain,” added Carroll. “While it’s not the hilliest golf course, it has enough movement in the terrain that creates a lot of consideration for various shot types. But what Matt’s done in shaping the fairways, manicuring various heights of cut, and working on the firmness of all the playing surfaces will make a difference for the championship.”

WATCH: Hole-By-Hole Flyovers at Willowbend

Defending champion David Pastore isn’t returning to defend his title, but four individuals competing have won in previous years: Jason Thresher (2016, 2017, 2018), Ian Thimble (2014), Kyle Gallo (2011), and Fran Quinn (1990).

Even though Thresher’s last Mass Open win was in 2018 at GreatHorse, the Connecticut pro has continued to challenge for the title year after year, consistency in the conversation entering Day 3. Plenty of other amateurs will also be looking to knock down the door. Ricky Stimets (Worcester Country Club), the 2023 Mass Open Low Amateur, grew up on Cape Cod and used his local knowledge to run away with the Mass Mid-Amateur title last September. With a 4-under 66 in the final round, he won by a commanding 13 strokes and was named Mass Golf’s 2023 Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year.

Mass Amateur champion Ryan Downes (GreatHorse) and New England Amateur champion Joey Lenane (George Wright Golf Course) are fresh of U.S. Open Final Qualifying and will look to add to their growing legacies.

Scroll down for the complete list of notable players in the 2024 field. 

Ricky Stimets took a victory lap around Willowbend in last year’s Mass Mid-Amateur. He will try to lift another trophy in the same place next week.

In addition to offering live scoring updates on its website, Mass Golf will post updates and photos of the competitors on its social media outlets. Follow @PlayMassGolf on Facebook, X, 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’s Senior Manager of Communications, at 774-265-9130 or via email at

Watch: Mass Open Preview Show


Willowbend will be set up at approximately 6,300 yards and will play to a par of 35-35—70.

Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Total
Par 5 4 4 4 3 4 3 4 4 35
Yards 501 407 293 466 207 376 169 301 450 3170
Hole 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Total
Par 4 3 4 4 3 4 4 4 5 35
Yards 392 168 416 446 188 448 405 309 476 3248

Note: Yardages subject to change.

Player Notes

A collection of notable players in the 2024 Mass Open:

a-RICKY STIMETS, 33, an Osterville native and member of Worcester Country Club, finished as low amateur (5th overall) in the 2023 Massachusetts Open Championship at TPC Boston, closing with rounds of 68 and 69. He also earned his first Mass Golf championship victory at Willowbend, winning the Mass Mid-Amateur by a whopping 13 strokes. Tacking on a T6 finish in the New England Amateur and a Round of 16 finish in the Mass Amateur, Stimets earned the 2023 Mass Golf’s Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year Award.

JASON THRESHER, 35, 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 four championships. If he’s close on Day 3, he is always a threat to take home the title, earning T2 finishes in 2021 and 2023.

JIMMY HERVOL, 26, a professional from Hopkinton, MA, qualified for the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and earned three victories on the Minor League Golf Tour in 2023.

MIKE VAN SICKLE, 32, a professional golf instructor from Wexford, Pennsylvania, has finished inside the top 20 of the Mass Open each of the past five years, and will seek a third consecutive spot inside the top 5. Van Sickle, who is known for his colorful and sports-themed pants, finished top three in the 2023 WPGA Open Championship.

a-RYAN DOWNES, 18, a Longmeadow native and member at GreatHorse, is coming off a stellar 2023 with his win in the Mass Amateur, Ouimet Memorial Tournament and a semifinals appearance in the Mass Junior Amateur. In the fall, he won the MIAA Division I state title at his home course and recently competed in U.S. Open Final Qualifying.

a-KYZAR JOSHI, 18, an Ashland native and member at The Links at Mass Golf, is a rising sophomore at Hamilton College and a high-achieving alumnus of the First Tee – Massachusetts program. Joshi qualified for the Mass Open for the first time this year at Allendale Country Club in North Dartmouth.

NICHOLAS PANDELENA, 30, of Atkinson, New Hampshire, gutted out a third-place finish in the 2023 Mass Open as he was awaiting an MRI on a self-inflicted foot injury. The former Boston College standout shot under par each day at TPC Boston, including a bogey-free, 3-under stretch through 12 holes in the final round.

FRAN QUINN, 59, a Holden resident and member of Worcester Country Club, is the oldest Mass Open champion in the field, having won the title in 1990. Quinn qualified for his fourth U.S. Senior Open, which will take place in late June at Newport Country Club. He also qualified for the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club.

OWEN QUINN, 25, a Holden resident and member of Worcester Country Club, is currently vying for a spot on the Korn Ferry Tour. The former Massachusetts Amateur Public Links champion also competed in U.S. Open Final Qualifying and has caddied for his father Fran Quinn in the U.S. Open.

a-JOEY LENANE, 20, a Dedham native and member of George Wright Golf Course, won the 2023 New England Amateur by two strokes. He shot the low score of 66 on Day 1 of the Mass Open at TPC Boston and finished T11 overall. Lenane, a rising junior at North Carolina State, also won the 2024 Norfolk County Classic.

a-JOHN BRODERICK, 20, a Wellesley native and member of Dedham Country & Polo Club, earned a spot in the final group last year after shooting consecutive rounds of 68 in the Mass Open. The Vanderbilt Commodore also made headlines when he broke the course record at Essex with a stunning 62 on the final day of stroke play.

BERK HARVEY, 26, of San Jose, California, made a splash at the Mass Open last year, not just because of his name but for his play. The young pro shot all three rounds under par at TPC Boston, capping off a second round of 68 by holing out from the greenside bunker on the 18th and finishing T7 overall.

XAVIER MARCOUX, 23, a Concord native and member of Nashawtuc Country Club, recently graduated from Rutgers University and earned status on PGA Tour Americas for the upcoming summer. Marcoux, the 2019 New England Amateur winner, will return to the Mass Open for the first time since 2021 when he placed T28 overall at Oak Hill Country Club.

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