- Golfer Benefits
LAKEVILLE, Massachusetts – There was a comfortable chill in the air that swept LeBaron Hills Country Club on Wednesday, a friendly reminder that fall is officially upon us. Still, there’s championship golf to be played as the 10th edition of the Massachusetts Super Senior Amateur Championship got underway under sunny skies.
Last year, Kevin Carey and Steve Camara made the cut on the number at 83 and played together in the final round. They’ll do the same again tomorrow, only this time they’re leading the pack after shooting even-par 72 in the opening round.
Keith Smith, whose late-season resurgence featured a win in this year’s New England Senior Amateur Championship, sits one stroke back of the lead along with three others. He’s also among the 70 players who made the cut at 10-over-par 82, and will play in the final 18-hole round Thursday. Tee times range between 8 a.m. & 9:50 a.m. Everybody who made the cut and completes the final round earn an exemption into the 2024 Super Senior Amateur.
Entries were open to amateur golfers who have reached their 65th birthday by September 27, 2023, and who have an active Mass Golf/GHIN Handicap Index at any public, private, semi-private, municipal or non-real estate Mass Golf member course/club not exceeding 12.0.
Camara didn’t have his best tee shots off the tee, but his short game was impeccable in the opening round to earn him a share of the lead. He made three birdies, including one of just three on the challenging par-4 6th.
“The irons I hit relatively well, and I had no three-putts, so was able to make nice saves for par and that kept the round going,” said Camara, a member of Ferncroft Country Club. “I just got into a nice rhythm and kept it in the short stuff.”
After a birdie on the 6th, Camara nearly aced the short par-3 11th, as he hit a “solid shot” that hit the back slope and almost dropped into the cup.
The Ferncroft Country Club member finished runner-up two years ago in a rain-shortened event and now has a chance to cap off his season with an individual championship.
“We all look forward to all these tournaments, especially this one,” said Camara, who played alongside Smith and Joe Walker, both stellar senior players. “They played well. We’ve played together for a number of years. We enjoy each other’s company, and you stay focused around them.”
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) September 27, 2023
Carey found just about every fairway on Wednesday and surged into the lead late with an 8-foot downhill birdie putt on the 8th, followed by a nifty par save on the 9th from a difficult lie to salvage an even-par round and get himself into the final group Thursday. He also stuck a shot to 2 feet on the par-3 11th.
Carey said winning the Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship with his fellow Dennis Pines Golf Club member Joe Walker made his year, but he’s still thrilled to be in a spot to win this event for the first time.
“It’ll be fun, and I look forward to playing tomorrow,” Carey said. “Like the rest of these guys, you never know when you’re going to hit it well.”
Smith, who is leading the race for the Massachusetts Super Senior Player of the Year Award, was out in front most of the day, as birdies on holes 10 and 12 got him to 2-under. However, a late bogey and a double on the 18th dropped him one back of Carey and Camara.
Brian Secia (Plymouth Country Club) said he was focused all morning as he kept a largely clean card with a 1-over 73 in the morning. Secia made his lone birdie on the par-3 11th, sinking a 12-foot putt to get to even par. He’ll try to add to a promising season that includes top 3 finishes in regional events such as the Norfolk County Classic and the Senior Hornblower Memorial.
Among the first-timers eligible for this event was Irish-born Patrick McKeown (Pocasset Golf Club), who shot 4-over 76 in the opening round just one month after qualifying on the number with the exact same score in the Swansea Country Club qualifier.
McKeown, who was born in Dublin, came to the U.S. 40 years ago and spent much of his adult life as a member of Poquoy Brook Golf Club, less than two miles down the road from LeBaron Hills. Despite that, Wednesday was the first time he got to play the private layout, which debuted in 2001.
“It’s a great layout and a good test of golf,” said McKeown, who carded birdies on holes 16 and 17 to make the turn at 1-under-par. “The greens are really good. Because of all the rain we’ve had, it’s hard to get them rolling pretty fast.”
Asked where his loyalties lie in this week’s Ryder Cup: “Europe!” said McKeown, who attended the 2006 Ryder Cup at The Palmer North in Ireland.
Shooting lower than one’s age has happened several times at the Super Senior Amateur, but Dave Houghton (Captains Golf Course), the 2016 and 2017 winner, shot six strokes below his age with a 73 that featured three birdies in the opening round. At age 79, he only trails Del Kinney (Wyantenuck Country Club), 82, as the oldest player in the field. Houghton also shares the lead in the Legends Category with Paul Murphy (Charles River Country Club), who shot a bogey-free 3-under on the back nine to begin his round.
Twin brothers Carter Fasick (Westborough Golf Club) and John Fasick (New England Country Club) finished 1-2, respectively, in the Legends Division (age 70+) at last year’s Super Senior. The brothers, who have won several four-ball events together, both shot 4-over 76, with Carter finishing out his round with a birdie on his final hole (par-5 9th) and will likely contend for the Legends title Thursday.
LeBaron Hills is among the newer county clubs to host a Mass Golf event this season. The 18-hole golf course was designed by Brian Silva (2001) and is set on 175 acres in the midst of woods and wetlands.
The club offers high-level practice areas that include a 10-acre practice range, a 40-yard short game hole with a regulation green and bunker, and a 60,000-square-foot putting green. Between the course and the practice accommodations, LeBaron Hills is a terrific spot for players to work on and test out their game.
The club’s head professional is Tom Rooney, who won the 1987 Mass Amateur Public Links Championship and appeared in several USGA amateur events before turning professional. Rooney has been the club pro for most of LeBaron Hills’ existence, and earlier this year played in U.S. Open Local Qualifying at his longtime home course.
Notable Events at LeBaron Hills CC: