- Golfer Benefits
HINGHAM, Massachusetts – For the second consecutive year, the New England Senior Amateur Championship was effected by rain. But despite a two-hour delay for unplayable conditions due to rain, everybody was able to at least start their opening round Tuesday at Black Rock Country Club.
Leading the way at 3-under is Connecticut’s Craig Platt (Mill River CC), who won the Connecticut State Golf Association’s Senior Match Play championship last year. Jeff Page (Wellesley Country Club), the head coach for the Babson College men’s golf team, is two strokes off the lead and is closest among players who finished their rounds Tuesday.
In his New England Senior Amateur debut Red Sox Hall of Fame pitcher and two-time World Series champion Tim Wakefield finished 2-over 74. Wakefield won the senior club championship at Black Rock and started his round with an up-and-down par on the opening hole followed by a birdie on the par-3 second. He’s tied with club member Bud Shultz, a former professional tennis player. (Scroll down for more on Wakefield.)
Round 1 was suspended at 6:45 p.m. due to darkness and will resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. At the completion of that round, the low 50 and ties will advance to the final 18-hole round of stroke play. The 10 low scorers in the Super Senior Division (age 65-plus) will also play in the second round.
Craig Platt has kept a relatively low profile in amateur golf circles. Last year he won Connecticut’s Senior Match Play Championship, but after today, he has certainly turned some heads.
The Stamford, Connecticut, resident played hockey and golf at New England College, and after coaching hockey and raising a family has begun to improve on his game. Last year he finished T72 in this championship, but now finds himself atop the leaderboard.
“I’ve been working hard this summer, playing more competitive golf,” said Platt, who made Connecticut’s Tri-State team last year. “Late in life, I’m just a person who’s driven to see what I can do now.”
Playing in the first group Tuesday, Platt rode a hot putter to six birdies including three consecutive on holes 7-9, though that stretch was interrupted by the weather delay. Thanks to hitting good irons into greens, he had no 3-putts.
“That was the best part of my game,” Platt said. “I had good numbers into the greens… I thought they were fair.”
While entering the final round with the lead puts him in a new spot, “I feel comfortable going into tomorrow,” he said. “My goal is to get to the back nine knowing you’re right there.”
Chasing him down will be Jeff Page, who also shot 3-under 33, and like Pratt also made three consecutive birdies on holes 7-9, plus up-and-down for par on the 10th.
Page cited course experience with his success. His brother Chris is a member, and he caddied for Tim Wakefield on Tuesday, but fortunately, Page and Wakefield were paired together allowing them all to be together.
“He was helping Tim, but he said a couple of things to me, and it was fun having him out there,” Page said. “I knew where I was going the whole time,” he added. “It’s a hard course, but I was hitting the wedges close and I’m just a longer hitter and can take advantage of that.”
Page said he was able to stay limber during the rain delay and upon resumption sank a 10-footer for birdie on the 7th; chipped to 5 feet and made the putt on the 8th; and then carded a 2 on the par-3 9th, which was playing from the forward tee. That stretch leaves him in contention, and as the head coach of a college team, it’s something that gets him excited.
“I love seeing my guys being in the hunt, and it’s a nice feeling,” he said.
New Hampshire’s Phil Pleat (Nashua Country Club), who won the title in 2016 and 2017, is also chasing down the leaders at even-par. Pleat isn’t a long hitter, but hit enough fairways to allow him to make four birdies, including on the 17th. He almost made a long putt on the final hole but it just missed the mark.
In the afternoon wave, Dean Godek (Agawam Municipal Golf Course-MA) and Patrick McGuiness (Keney Golf Course-CT) both made the turn at 1-under. McGuiness got to 2-under but a pair a bogeys down the stretch put him back to par. Godek got through 16 holes, but some late bogeys took him out of the red figures.
In the Super Senior Division, 2019 champion Jack Kearney (Westover GC) is in the leader in the clubhouse at even-par 71. Kearney, the champion in 2018, hit a nice greenside chip on the 18th to secure his even-par score. Bob Reni (CC of New Bedford) turned at 1-under and made birdie on the 1st hole (his 10th) to get to 2-under, but he will have to finish his round Wednesday morning.
The year 2004 was a monumental year for former Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield. Not only did he help the Sox reverse the curse with their first World Series title in 86 years, he also laid his roots here at Black Rock Country Club and has lived on property ever since.
“My wife was pregnant with my first-born, and she had a sister who didn’t live far from here, and it just made sense to be close, and it turned out it was a country club and I fell in love with this place,” Wakefield said after making his New England Senior Amateur debut Tuesday.
Asked what his favorite spot on the golf course, Wakefield stuck with “the entire front side.” “It’s just magical when the sun’s right and you’re sitting on the deck. The landscape is so beautiful with the fescue, the colors of the threes, the greens and the fairways, and the rocks,” he said.
Wakefield played some golf when he was younger but really took to the game when he was in the Minor Leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. In retirement, Wakefield said golf has filled a big void, as he’s played several charity and celebrity events over the years, including one he’s hosted for the Red Sox foundation. He also played in the American Century Championship with other celebrity athletes, including former teammates Kevin Millar and Jon Lester.
“It’s kept me busy, that’s for sure,” Wakefield said. “I’m very lucky to have a wife that allows me to go play golf, as long as I’m there to help with the kids when I’m done.”
But this week had a different feeling for Wakefield, as the Black Rock senior club champion was facing off against some of the top amateur golfers in the region.
“It means a lot to have to put the work in to play well enough to be invited to this tournament,” Wakefield said.
Wakefield made a name for himself with a tricky pitch, and when asked if he had any tricks on the golf course, he said he used to be able to hit a driver from his knees, “I can’t do that anymore; my back won’t allow it.”
You know him for his knuckleball, but 2x #RedSox World Series champion Tim Wakefield is a solid ball-striker too.
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) September 13, 2022
Black Rock County Club was built in abandoned quarries in the early 2000s, but exposes players to three different styles of golf. The course, designed by Brian Silva, features a woods and wetlands layout, rollings hills and mounds like a links course, and a quarry layout with four or five holes granite walls along fairways and greens.
Founded in 2002, the club has hosted several Mass Golf events in the past including the 2009 Griscom Cup and the 2015 Mass Open. Most recently, the club hosted the 2020 Mass Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship for the Keyes Cup.
The global golf community also celebrated #ThankAGreensKeeperDay on Tuesday. Since its opening, Chuck Welch has been the superintendent since the club opened and works closely alongside his first assistant superintendent – his wife Jackie Bourdreau.
The couple and their team certainly kept busy Tuesday, squeegeeing greens during the weather delay to help get them ready for when play resumed.
Chuck and Jackie were also featured on the cover of MassGolfer Magazine in Winter 2020. To view that edition, CLICK HERE
⛳️ #ThankASuper ⛳️
They work hard all year long to keep the courses we love in terrific shape. Join us in thanking the superintendents and maintenance staffs of Massachusetts for everything they do.#MassGolf | @GCSAA pic.twitter.com/qCyqjNwOvn
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) September 13, 2022