Mass Women's Amateur: Molly Smith Earns Stroke Play Medal; Field Set For Match Play - MASSGOLF

Molly Smith Separates From Field By Shooting 68 In Final Round Of Stroke Play; Match play Begins Wednesday

For Immediate Release: August 15, 2023

DEDHAM, Massachusetts – After two days of battling the grueling challenge that Dedham Country & Polo Club presents, it’s safe to say the 32 players who have advanced to match play in the 120th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship are relieved that they can now shift their focus to battling one another.

Morning rain showers put a damper on the start of Tuesday, but they faded in the afternoon making life a bit easier for those starting later. That was the case for Westford’s Molly Smith (Vesper Country Club) as she separated from the field and earned medalist honors at 2-under-par 68 in the second round for a total of 3-over 143. For the second straight year, Smith will be joined in match play by her older sister Morgan Smith, 19, the defending champion, and younger sister Maddie Smith, 15, who won the Massachusetts Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship two weeks ago.

“It definitely feels good to have played well today,” said Molly Smith, 18, who will attend University of Central Florida this fall. “After yesterday seeing myself playing well on this golf course, it shows that I know I can do it going forward.”

Top-seeded Smith will lead off the slate of matches in the Round of 32 at 7:30 Wednesday morning as she faces Jillian Johnson (Hatherly Country Club). The winners advance to the Round of 16 in the afternoon. Quarterfinals and semifinals are set for Thursday, and the 18-hole final match begins 7:30 Friday morning.

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Smith made a pair of bogeys early in the round but played the final 15 holes 4-under, including a bogey-free back nine. Smith closed out the front with a birdie on the 9th and made her last on the Reverse Redan par-3 17th, becoming the only golfer to shoot under par.

“It was raining during my warmup, but it made the greens a little bit softer, so [it was] a little bit easier to hit it close today than yesterday,” Smith said.

Smith also had some praise for her younger sister as the family continues to make its mark in the state golf scene.

“This is the first summer where she’s committed to trying to play competitive golf well,” Molly said of Maddie. “She’s definitely stepped the game up.”

Molly Smith won medalist honors at the Mass Women’s Amateur honors for the first time. (David Colt)

Team meetings for the University of Virginia women’s golf team begin Friday, but if all goes right for Needham’s Rebecca Skoler (Pine Brook Country Club) she’ll be at Dedham instead. Skoler, the 2022 runner-up, hasn’t made many appearances on the local golf scene this summer. But she didn’t want to return to Charlottesville without giving it another go in the championship.

“I told my coach I have to play the Mass Women’s Amateur,” said Skoler, who shot 75 Tuesday with a bogey-free stretch of 1-under on the front nine. “I’m happy to be out here and so close to home. It’s nice to have a bunch of family friends come out and watch this week. I love the local events so much, so this is always a privilege to be out here.”

Skoler has been right in the hunt in each of the past three years. Prior to last year’s final match appearance, Skoler was a semifinalist in 2020 and won medalist before falling in the quarterfinals in 2021.

“That’s definitely a big motivator for me,” Skoler said. “I haven’t gotten a win yet so that would mean the world to me. To be able to compete against such a strong field is really awesome.”

Rebecca Skoler is determined to get back to the final match this year. (David Colt)

The rain hardly affected Mekhala Costello on Tuesday, as evidenced by the fact that she opted to go sans-rain gear (minus gloves). With two solid days of ball striking, Costello shot 73-75–148 to advance to match play for the third straight year and earn a second straight top-five finish in stroke play.

It feels like this moment has been building all summer long for Costello. After this week, she’ll take a reprieve from golf as she begins her senior season on the Canton High School girls soccer team.

“I kind of have nothing to lose,” Costello said after Tuesday’s round. “I was just like ‘All right, I’m just going to go after more pins.’ I made a few up and downs and then I was able to get a lot of birdie chances, which was nice. It was more stress free than yesterday, which is good.”

Costello hasn’t made it past the Round of 32 the past two years, but heeding some advice from those closest to her, she hopes to make a more distant run this year.

“I’ll definitely try to stay steady and not get too up and too down during that round, so hopefully it goes better than the past two years,” Costello said.

Mekhala Costello earned the No. 2 seed in match play. (David Colt)

Billerica’s Reva Machanavajhula already has a lot of pop in her swing at age 13. The smooth swinging lefty decided to take a big step up by competing in the Mass Women’s Amateur for the first time but has more than held her own. She shot scores of 80-83–163 to make the cut by two strokes.

“I think I played better than I expected myself to play. I gave myself a cutline of 80 or 85 both days, which I made so I’m quite happy about that,” said Machanavajhula, a three-time winner of the Junior-Mite Division of the Massachusetts Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship.

Machanavajhula said playing the course over the past few days has been a delight. Being a member of Youth on Course, which provides players 18 and younger to play golf at participating courses across the country for $5 a round, perhaps nobody in the entire field, appreciates the opportunity more than her.

“Any chance I get to play some really nice courses I’ll play,” she said. “The greens are my most favorite part here because they’re tough, but also if you put yourself in the right places, they get easier.”

Watch: Round 2 Video Highlights


Here are some other tidbits from Day 2 at the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship. 

  • Starting times were delayed 30 minutes this morning due to rain. 
  • Of the 32 players who made match play this year, 19 advanced to the match play portion last year at Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley.
  • The only two sisters who have won the Mass Women’s Amateur are Hall of Famers Harriot and Margaret Curtis, the latter of whom won back-to-back titles in 1907 and 1908. Neither Margaret nor Harriot won the title in a year immediately following their sibling’s triumph.
  • Tate Hadges (Thorny Lea Golf Club), a senior captain of the Holy Cross women’s golf team, won the Osgood Memorial Cup given to the player with the Low Net score in stroke play. Hadges, who made the quarterfinals last year, shot a net score of 67 in the second round to edge out Madison Smith by one.
  • Dean Emerson, who caddies on the PGA Tour for Davis Thompson, was on the bag for Morgan Smith on Tuesday. Emerson, a Vesper Country Club member based out of Lowell, was featured in the cover story of the most recent edition of MassGolfer Magazine. 
  • Rio Pearlstein (Blue Hill Country Club) and Stacey Freda (Andover Country Club) each made an eagle during the second round Tuesday. Pearlstein carded a 3 on the par-5 4th, while Freda holed out on the par-4 8th.


  • I really don’t like wearing my rain jacket. I just can’t swing as well, and playing soccer, you play in the rain a lot. Sometimes it’s rainy and windy and cold. Honestly, that probably helped me a little bit because this is not bad weather. — Mekhala Costello on opting to play without rain gear.
  • I know Jordan Spieth did it on shorter putts, but my dad thinks everyone should try it, especially in practice because it’s really good. I like practicing with it, looking at the hole or looking at your target to try to get your speed down. When you really focus on your target, your brain will match that speed. Sometimes when I’m not super confident in the green speeds, I will look at the hole and I feel like I hit it a lot better when I do that. — Rebecca Skoler, on her atypical putting approach of looking at the hole instead of the ball during longer putts.
  • It was like working construction today. — Mercedese Large, who played in the first group Tuesday which faced the heaviest amount of rain.
  • It’d be really exciting because that was my goal for the tournament is just make match play. If I make it…then I’m just playing for fun afterwards. — Reva Machanavajhula


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