- Golfer Benefits
West Yarmouth, Massachusetts – Sincerest apologies if it ruined your beach day, but Cape Cod feels more quintessentially Cape Cod when the fog lingers into the afternoon. Even when it lifts, the grey sky lays low, barely held aloft by the dense tapestry of scrub pines and oaks.
It was that kind of day at Bayberry Hills Golf Course in West Yarmouth, a sprawling public course that stretched out over 7,000 yards, but the vibe didn’t befit your typical sleepy Cape day. A field of 64 two-man teams battled it out for three qualifying and two alternate spots in the 2024 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, which will be played next May at Philadelphia Cricket Club.
The low score when Bayberry Hills co-hosted the 2023 Massachusetts Four-Ball back in April was 64, which the duo of Thomas Hackett (George Wright GC) and Chris Herrick (Vesper CC) bested by one today, with a medalist winning round of 9-under 63. Hackett and Herrick finished T-48 at the Mass Four-Ball. So what changed?
“We learned the golf course. You know, this is a fantastic golf course, but there’s a couple of dog legs that you need to know how far you can cut the corner and stuff like that or what your through line is, and I think that was a big difference for us,” said Herrick.
“We knew when to press the gas today and when to hold up and lay up and honestly, we pretty much went for it almost the whole way out there…when we did go for it and didn’t pull it off, we still got out of trouble today,” added Hackett.
The aggression paid off, as they racked up five birdies each, and maybe most importantly, those birdies only overlapped on one hole (the 7th, which was their 16th). “We finished with four birdies in a row. We both birdie the par-5, then he makes a great birdie on the 8th and then he makes another great birdie on 9, and I mean, those are the types of stretches you need at the end of a round to kind of do this type of thing,” explained Herrick.
Herrick and Hackett go way back, having grown up in the same part of Upstate New York. They played on rival high school golf teams and even worked together in the cart barn at a local course. They kept in touch over the years, and when Hackett moved from Ireland to Boston, he knew Herrick was in the area, so they linked up for some golf. And now they’ll be contending for a national title together in 2024.
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Kyle Harsh (White Cliffs CC) and Patrick Friel (Oakley CC) took a long time to find a groove, going birdie-less on the front. The back nine was a completely different story. Harsh piled up seven birdies, shooting 29 on his own ball, and Friel added another to post an astonishing 8-under 28 on the back, leaving them one shot clear of a mass of players who were stacked up at 7-under.
Harsh cited an otherworldly hot dog at the turn to get him going, “Yeah, I stuck it to like six inches on 10. And 11 I hit this miraculous flop shot that went in.”
“Yeah, then every single putt just dropped in,” added Friel.
Asked if he had ever gone that low over nine holes before, Harsh said, “No, no, nowhere close. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever made seven birdies in a round before, let alone on one side of the golf course.”
As Harsh and Friel came up the 18th, they were tied at 7-under with eight or nine other groups, many of which were watching intently from the practice green that is perched above the 18th green. Harsh cooly knocked his 60 yard approach to about six feet, drained the putt, unleashed a fist pump, and dapped up his partner. Ticket punched.
Will Mclaughlin (Bedford, NH) came up with a clutch birdie on the par-5 18th hole to help him and partner Matt Burroughs (Manchester, NH) emerge from the pack right at the finish line as well, qualifying with an 8-under score of 64.
Ten two-man teams, that’s 20 golfers for those unwilling to do the math at home, headed out for a playoff to determine the two alternate sides. Daylight faded quickly. In 25 minute intervals, players emerged from the dark tree line and made their way to the parking lot as the playoff field whittled on down. Finally, a few slightly cheerier voices filtered through, signaling the end of a long day of qualifying.
U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Thomas Hackett (Boston, MA) & Chris Herrick (Westford, MA); (-9) 63
Kyle Harsh (Weston, MA) & Patrick Friel (Arlington, MA); (-8) 64
Will Mclaughlin (Bedford, NH) & Matt Burroughs (Manchester, NH); (-8) 64
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Michael Roulic (Boston, MA) & Christian Jensen (Wakefield, MA); (-7) 65
Sam Russell (Boston, MA) & Ryan Brown (Boston, MA); (-7) 65
The 2024 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship will take place May 25-29 at Philadelphia Cricket Club. The Wissahickon Course, designed by A.W. Tillinghast, will serve as the Championship venue, while the Militia Hill course will co-host the stroke play portion of the tournament. The full field will consist of 128 sides. Each member of the side cannot have a Handicap Index® exceeding 5.4.
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