OSTERVILLE, Mass. — The rain came down and the fountain of youth was overflowing at Oyster Harbors Club on Wednesday morning.
At the age of 71 years old, Dave Houghton (The Captains GC – MA) was crowned winner of the 2015 New England Senior Amateur Championship.
He earned both the Andrew C. Bailey Senior Amateur Trophy and the Super Senior Division title. The latter is awarded to the low scorer who is 65 years or older.
Houghton now becomes the oldest competitor to ever win the New England Senior Amateur Championship. Connecticut’s Shawn McLoughlin previously held that record when he won this title in 2013 at the age of 70.
“I have been truly blessed,” said Houghton. “My wife gets credit for making me eat the right things. I exercise regularly and routinely and stretch and I am blessed with good health and thank the Lord that I can wake up with no pain.”
Houghton battled against the region’s top senior amateur talent on Tuesday during the event’s first round of play. He finished day one with a score of 3-under par 69, which was two strokes better than Connecticut Hall of Famer Bill Hermanson (Black Hall Club – CT) and three strokes ahead of Dave Szewczul (Tunxis Plantation CC – CT), who had just returned from competing in match play at the 2015 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship.
The low 40 scorers following day one were hoping to play a final 18 holes on Wednesday, but Mother Nature had other plans. The championship was officially reduced to 18 holes on Wednesday morning when the course was deemed unplayable and Houghton was crowned champion.
“I have a smile on my face,” said Houghton. “I may have been the only one smiling but it is what it is…. if the weather had been good, it would have been a real challenge.”
Houghton’s performance on Tuesday was nothing short of magical as he scored two eagles (click here for complete highlights from round one) along his 18-hole path in Osterville.
Just one year ago, Houghton was able to play 36 holes on the same Oyster Harbors Club layout and the end result was him winning the 2014 Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship and his first individual MGA Championship title.
“This is icing on the cake,” said Houghton. “Winning last year and the way I was able to do that was really special. But being there today and yesterday and being able to perform under the lights and get the ball in the hole as well as I did is something that means a lot to me.”
Houghton’s love for the game began when he was just nine years old when his father took him onto a golf course for the first time.
“I fell in love with the individual competition and the challenge that you face as someone on your own out there,” said Houghton.
Houghton recalls making $.25 cents per bag as a caddy growing up in Wellfleet and then playing courses around the world while serving 26 years in the United States Navy. Upon his retirement in 1992, Houghton followed his dream and spent three years on the senior professional circuit.
“I think that I earned two or three dollars,” said Houghton with a laugh. “I wanted to be out there with those guys so badly.”
Years of Monday qualifying and swing restructuring took a toll and Houghton eventually regained his amateur status and reentered the world of amateur golf in the early 2000s. Since that time, he has continued to hone his skills and nurture his love for a game that he first met 62 years ago.
“I grew up in the age of Palmer and it was probably in 1958 when I first started to watch the Masters,” said Houghton. “It captured my full attention and I just used to dream about playing on beautiful golf courses.”
On Tuesday, Houghton played one of the most beautiful courses in Massachusetts to near perfection and on Wednesday he fulfilled a dream.
At the age of 71, he was the 2015 New England Senior Amateur Champion.
“I have had a love affair with golf for a long time,” said Houghton. “It has had its ups and down like all love affairs do, but it has been a wonderful ride.”
View results for New England Senior Amateur Golf Championship