Joy-Connelly Sets Record With Classic Finish At Women's Stroke Play Championship - MASSGOLF

Hall of Famer Tara Joy-Connelly Wins Baker Trophy For A Record Eighth Time

By Steve Derderian

YARMOUTH PORT, Massachusetts (June 6, 2024) – The Women’s Stroke Play Championship has always maintained a special spot on the calendar for Tara Joy-Connelly. When the Mass Golf Hall of Famer won consecutive titles in the 2000s, the inaugural winner and fellow Cohasset Golf Club member Nancy Black gave her the second of her two victory medals.

On Thursday, facing a steady rain and paired with two of the state’s premier amateur golfers, Joy-Connelly found a way to prevail and stand above all as the winningest champion of the Baker Trophy. Joy-Connelly tied Morgan Smith with a par on the 18th hole, and on the first hole for the playoff, hit her approach inside 8 feet and made the birdie putt to hoist the Baker Trophy for the first time in a decade.

“That makes this tournament special for me,” said Joy-Connelly, reflecting on the event. “It really is something special in golf and special in sports that we all share. You know what it is and what it means to us.”

Online: Results | Photo Gallery | Round 1 Highlights | Past Champions | Event Homepage

Early in Round 2, Smith and Joy-Connelly separated from the pack and were tied at the turn, essentially setting up a match-play-esque finish at Cummaquid. Despite a bogey on the 11th, Joy-Connelly stayed within arm’s length with her extraordinary short game. She made a pair of clutch up-and-downs on the 12th and 13th to save par, and on the 14th, hit her approach to the back pin inside 5 feet for a kick-in birdie, matching Smith.

“It really kind of led me down the second half of last season,” Joy-Connelly said of her short game. “So I felt like if we don’t do anything, let’s turn that bus around.”

Fresh off a stellar first season at Georgetown University, Smith started the day with a two-stroke lead at even-par. She made a lengthy birdie putt on the par-5 14th to match Joy-Connelly and stay ahead. Smith then limited the damage with a bogey save after missing wide left on her approach on the par-4 15th, bringing the score even. However, she hit the center of the green on the par-3 16th and made par to pull back ahead.

On the 18th, Smith’s approach again drifted left while Joy-Connelly made a two-putt par to equalize again. Both had birdie bids on the playoff hole (Hole 1), and Smith came painstakingly close to putting the pressure on her opponent. Her putt was directly on line but veered slightly around the hole’s edge, and she tapped in to clear the stage for Joy-Connelly, who knocked home the winning putt seconds later.

“I knew I had to hit it in there like six feet straight up the hill,” Joy-Connelly said of the winning putt. And I was like, just don’t leave it short. Whatever you do, make sure it has enough gas.”

Christine Gagner (The Tour), one of the state’s most accomplished senior women’s golfers, earned her second consecutive Tournament Division title, but this one was much closer. Despite shooting 78 in the final round, Gagner thought she would be overtaken by Haley or Joanne Catlin (Oak Hill Country Club), who were within striking distance. Haley managed birdies on holes 5 and 7. However, she finished tied at 17-over, forcing another playoff.

Gagner managed a bogey on the 18th to outlast Haley, who was making her debut in the event. She said she hopes that, like Haley, more newcomers will participate in the Baker in the future to keep the tradition alive.

“I have been playing in the Baker for 20 plus years at this point, and the amount of friends that you make, the people that you stick with through that whole time period, I have wonderful friends [because of it],” Gagner said after the victory. “In fact, I was paired with Jenny Ceppi yesterday, and we were reminiscing about how this is where we first met and played golf together at The Baker, and we’ve been friends ever since. So I urge everyone to come out and try it. There are so many new faces, and then there’s always all the youngsters coming up and playing really well.”

Christine Gagner won the Tournament Division for the second straight year. (David Colt)


  • Joanne Goodwin won her 7th Baker Trophy at Cummaquid in 1972, the last time the championship was held here.
  • The last time the Baker Trophy was decided in a playoff was in 2012 when Pam Kuong edged out Tracy Martin at Woods Hole Golf Club.
  • Amanda Adams (Winchester Country Club) shot the low net score in the Championship Division, carding 65-73—138 (-4), finishing a stroke ahead of Joy-Connelly. Irene Haley (Ferncroft Country Club), the Round 1 leader in the Tournament Division, also earned Net honors with a 67-68—135 (-7).
  • Up Next: The New England Women’s Amateur Championship takes place June 25-27 at Samoset Resort in Maine. Morgan Smith is the two-time defending champion.


High school senior Amanda Adams won the Net Division of the Women’s Stroke Play Championship. (David Colt)

Watch: Final Round Video Highlights

Let’s Rock!

In September 1897, the Boston Herald published a picture of the signature boulder along an old fence lining the golf course.

As promised in Wednesday’s recap, let’s talk about the signature large boulder jutting out along the right side of the fairway about 130 yards from the center of the 18th green at Cummaquid. Thanks to historical records and photos, we can confirm this solid mass has been on the property since the club’s founding in 1895. (Likely much before then)

Much like an iceberg, it turns out that all you can see is what’s above the surface. According to longtime head golf professional Steve Spencer, the rock is “four or five times as big underneath the surface” and comes into play when considering where to hit your tee shot.

It’s always been part of the original routing, serving as the finishing 9th hole until the club expanded in 1970. There are currently no plans to remove it; instead, there have been talks of engraving the club logo, ensuring it’s a fixture on the historic course.

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