- Golfer Benefits
FRAMINGHAM, Massachusetts – When’s theres only one 18-hole round to determine a championship, it’s hard to bet against Hall of Famer Frank Vana, Jr.
Playing at Framingham Country Club, his home course when he attended nearby Marian High School, Vana shot a spectacular 2-under-par 70 with five birdies in the morning wave, giving him enough breathing room to capture the Massachusetts Senior Amateur title for the second time. Vana also won the Mass Mid-Amateur at Framingham in 2012.
“I play here a lot, and I have a lot of friends here, so it’s close to my roots and it’s great to win here,” said Vana, who is playing a week after his run to the Round of 16 in the U.S. Senior Amateur at The Kittansett Club.
Just like the 2018 Senior Amateur, this year’s championship was shortened to 18-holes following heavy rain (about 3.5 inches total this week) in the early part of the week. With everybody starting the championship round at the same place Thursday, Vana edged out a two-stroke win over three players who finished even-par. The win gives him 24 Mass Golf victories and his first Senior Amateur title since 2018.
“I’ve done this for a lot of year, and to have this happen again, I’m really fortunate and happy,” Vana said.
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It was far from a perfect day for Frank Vana (Marlborough Country Club), but clutch birdies at the right time put him in position to win. Despite a pair of three-putts on the front nine, Vana knocked in birdies on the 6th and 7th to put him at even at the turn.
On the back nine, two clutch shots gave him enough to put him over the top. On the reachable par-5 12th (475-yards) Vana chipped his third shot to 5 feet giving him an easy birdie putt to get him to 1-under, tied with defending champion Keith Smith (Franklin Country Club) at the time. A string of pars brought him to the downhill par-3 17th. With the flag in the middle, Vana took a 7-iron and left it to about 6 feet, making the putt to move to 2-under.
“I hit it right at it,” Vana said of the 17th. “It hit, stopped, and the greens were a little soft so it worked out well.”
Perhaps those clutch shots can be credited to practice. With a noticeably shorter competitive schedule this year, Vana has been practicing 4-5 times a week to stay sharp.
“I just tried to convince myself that I was building my confidence through practicing, and luckily I was able to hold that together and bring that to the golf course and get OK results.”
Vana also credited his playing partners — fellow seniors standouts David Pierce (Thorny Lea Golf Club) and Dean Godek (Agawam Municipal Golf Course) — to help minimize over the stress of playing 18 holes with the title on the line.
“I just tried to focus on what I was doing, not what was happening,” Vana said. “I had a good group today. There was no internal stress or issues, we just played golf and it worked out.”
The win also puts Vana on the cusp of winning the Mass Golf George M. Cohen Senior Player of the Year Award for the 5th time in the past six years. Five awards would put him tied with Ed Fletcher with the most all time.
Defending champion Keith Smith entered Thursday with a chance to win the Mass Senior Amateur for a record five times. For now he’ll remained tied with Ed Fletcher, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Smith turned at 1-under and made it 3-under after making birdie on holes 1 and 2. Two bogeys put him back to 1-under, but on the par-5 5th, Smith struck his third shot inside of 5 feet, and made the putt to get to 2-under. The wheels came apart on the 7th, though, as Smith’s lost his tee ball after missing right and had to re-tee. He ended up making a triple-bogey 7, putting him at 2-over with just two holes to play. A birdie on the final hole wasn’t enough to reclaim the lead.
Make the putt. Walk away.
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) September 8, 2022
Kevin Shea (Cohasset GC) far surpassed his best previous finish (T42) in a Mass Senior Amateur, finishing (T2) at even-par alongside John McNeill (Amateur Golf Tour of New England), the reigning New England Senior Amateur champion.
In the afternoon wave, it looked like it could be the year for Todd Ezold (Twin Hills Country Club), who finished in the top five in two of his past three Mass Senior Amateur attempts. He shook off a sluggish bogey-bogey start by making birdie on holes 3-5 consecutively, making the turn at 1-under. On the back nine, Ezold struck the ball well, but just couldn’t get a birdie putt to drop. A bogey on the final hole put him at even-par.
Vana’s Title Count: Vana has won 2 Mass Senior Amateurs (2018, 2022), 10 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championships (1999-2003, 2005-06, 2012-13, 2018), two Massachusetts Amateur Championships (2004-05), two Massachusetts Four-Ball Championships (2002-03), seven Ouimet Memorial Titles (1998, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2018*, 2020*), and one Massachusetts Father & Son Championship (2003). He was also named the Mass Golf Player of the Decades for the 1990s and 2000s, and in 2016, was inducted into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame.
*Lowery (Senior Division)
Ace Alert: Every hole-in-one during Mark Dennish’s career has come in competition. On Thursday, he added No. 5, as the member of Old Sandwich Golf Club carded a 1 on the 160-yard, par-3 17th by choking up on a 5-hybrid. Dennish said neither he nor his playing partners saw the ball fall into the hole. Standing on the 17th tee box, his playing partner Brian Fitzgerald used his rangefinder and saw a ball mark next to the hole but had no sight on the ball. When they made it to the green they found it in the cup.
“I was delighted that it went in, but wish I had played better on the front and made it really worth something,” said Dennish, who shot 4-over 76 to finish T18. “I can carry that club between 165 and 170, but with the wind at us and the way the green slopes, I thought hitting it left to right would be the shot, and the fact that it went in was pure luck.”
Spotted At The Course: Competing in this year’s Senior Amateur was Joseph Monahan (Winchester Country Club), the father of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. The elder Monahan, who at 79 is the oldest players in the field, played the first nine holes Thursday but withdrew due to the heat. MassGolfer Magazine profiled the Monahan family in the Spring 2017 edition. To read the article, CLICK HERE
Framingham Roundup: The host club had four players in the field this year: David Gottler, Ray Wright, Dana McMaster, and Michael McCarthy. McCarthy, who attended high school with champion Frank Vana, Jr., led the pack with a score of 2-over 74, good for T6 overall. McMaster and Gottler both shot 81, and Wright carded an 83.
Up Next: The New England Senior Amateur returns to the Bay State as Black Rock Country Club in Hingham hosts the championship from September 13-14. The Massachusetts Super Senior Amateur Championship is set for October 3-4 at Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown.
Framingham Country Club, nestled beside the Mass Pike-Route 9 interchange, was originally nine holes and stretched out closer to where Route 9 is today. Donald Ross helped restore the course in the early 1920s and is responsible for much of the current green undulations seen today. The configuration changed when Route 9 was built, but one relic includes the original eighth green remains today as a chipping green.
In 1960, the course expanded to its current 18-hole layout, as a second nine holes opened south of Parker Road on land bought from member Haddon Owen with this project being supervised by architect William F. Mitchell, architect. In 1968, the front nine was again changed by adding two holes farther to the west allowing two fairways to become today’s practice area. Geoffrey Cornish was the architect for this project.
In 2024, the Mass Amateur Championship is set to take place at Framingham for the first time. Framingham members Ray Wright (1990) and John Salamone (1991) are among Framingham members to capture the title.
The club has also hosted the Mass Mid-Amateur Championship (2012), Mass Women’s Amateur Championship (2013), Mass Four-Ball Championship (2016) and the Mass Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship (2018). It has also hosted USGA qualifying for the Mid-Amateur (2011, 2017), Senior Amateur (2014) and Senior Women’s Amateur (2015).