- Golfer Benefits
Putnam, Connecticut – Ben Balter (Weston Golf Club) posted 4-under 67 early and didn’t have to sweat much waiting for the rest of the field to come in. He did, however, have solo medalist honors snatched from him. Balter watched from the practice green, a few steps from the flag on 18, as Cody Paladino of West Hartford, CT, hit a 275 yard 3-wood on the long par-5 to five feet, leading to an eagle that got him to -4. Paladino later called it the best shot he has hit all year.
After a collegiate career at Wake Forest and a few years on the professional circuit, Balter is enjoying his newly regained amateur status.”Really have been working on recently, having more fun on the golf course and I just enjoyed every moment out there today,” said Balter.
It’s worth pointing out that hitting 16 greens and making 5 birdies on a difficult layout sounds like a pretty good formula for having fun on the golf course. Going into the round, Balter suspected that 4-under would be the medalist score, and managed to grind out the difficult closing stretch of holes to settle on that number. Balter keyed on the long par-4 16th as the most important hole of his round. A wayward drive left him blocked out from the green. After playing over trees to the fairway 40 yards short of the green, he stuffed one to six feet and holed the downhill putt for par.
While some players lingering on the clubhouse patio bemoaned their lack of course knowledge, Balter was already well acquainted with Connecticut National. “Megan Khang and I used to come here during Covid. We played here every day, it was the only course around that was open. Golf course I have always loved, I think there’s some really fun golf holes out here.”
Balter locked up his trip to the U.S. Mid-Am and appeared eager to get down there, “Super excited to get through. Sleepy Hollow is someplace I haven’t played, but I’ve always been looking forward to playing there. So I had this one circled on my calendar, for sure.” He even pondered reaching out to Cam Young for some course tips, though he admitted that Young’s lines off the tee might account for a bit more power.
The projected cut line hovered around -1 for a long time, but five Massachusetts golfers, and six players total, were resigned to a playoff for two alternate spots. 2023 Massachusetts Public Links Champ Ben Spitz (George Wright) and Ricky Stimets (Worcester Country Club) prevailed as first and second alternate, respectively.
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U.S. MID-AMATEUR QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Ben Balter (Wellesley, MA); (-4) 67
Cody Paladino (West Hartford, CT); (-4) 67
James Smith (North Palm Beach, FL); (-3) 68
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Benjamin Spitz (Milton, MA); (-1) 70
Ricky Stimets (Osterville, MA); (-1) 70
The 2023 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship will take place September 9-14 at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Scarborough, New York. The original nine holes were designed by Charles Blair Macdonald, before AW Tillinghast contributed 18 more holes in the ’20s. Stroke play will be co-hosted by Fenway Golf Club in Scarsdale, NY. The championship is open to any amateur golfer who has reached their 25th birthday as of Sept. 9 and whose Handicap Index does not exceed 3.4. Todays players join several Massachusetts players who have already made it through qualifying at other sites: Matthew Naumec (GreatHorse), Mike Calef (Pine Oaks Golf Club), Joe Harney (Charles River Country Club), Matthew Cowgill (Granite Links), Antonio Grillo (Farm Neck Golf Club), Kurt Flionis (Old Sandwich Golf Club) and Conor O’Brien (Thorny Lea Golf Club), Sean Fitzpatrick (George Wright Golf Course), Ryan Brown (Cape Cod National), and Christian Jensen (Wedgewood Pines Country Club). 2021 semi-finalist Nick Maccario (GreatHorse) and 2017 champion Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea Golf Club) earned exemptions.
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