EAST FALMOUTH, MA (September 20, 2016) -- For Billy Van Stratum (Dennis Pines GC) the first day of the 2016 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship could not have gone much better.
After all, the South Dennis resident had to travel just 25 miles from his home to this week’s host site, the Golf Club of Cape Cod to card a day-low score of 4-under par 68.
Van Stratum currently leads a field of 120 competitors following the first of three rounds of competition.
He has a one-stroke lead over four competitors – Tim Johnson (Poquoy Brook GC), Michael Pyne (Foxborough CC), Brendan Hester (Pleasant Valley CC) and Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) – who are T2 with scores of 3-under par 69.
“It was good and I am very pleased with my round,” said Van Stratum. “I have only played here two or three times, but I played a practice round maybe two weeks ago. I had a good feel for it and felt very comfortable out here.”
A resident of South Dennis since 2010, Van Stratum doesn’t have a chance to commute home often from MGA Championships given that events are hosted across the state. This week represented a unique opportunity for Stratum, and he took full advantage on day one by turning in a scorecard that featured five birdies and just one bogey.
“It is a nice feeling to go home to the wife and dog,” said Van Stratum. “It’s also nice to be able to sleep in your own bed and to get a good night’s sleep and a good dinner.”
His at-home preparation paid off early on Tuesday as he made birdie on three of his first four holes.
“I started out par and followed that up with three birdies in a row. That is a pretty healthy start,” said Van Stratum, who began his round on the TGC 10th hole. “I was rolling the ball pretty well and stuck one in there pretty tight on 11 and 13. Then I rolled in a good one on 12 from about 16 to 18 feet.”
Although Van Stratum made bogey on the 350-yard, par 4 13th hole, it would prove to be his final and only miscue of the day.
He made four straight pars to make the turn at 2-under par and then carded birdie on the 1st and 3rd holes. He played the TGC front nine at 2-under par.
“I drove the ball well and kept it in play,” said Van Stratum.
Quality golf typically leads to a good day for all involved which was evident by the play of Van Stratum and his playing partners for the first two rounds – Michael Willock (Cohasset GC) and D.J. Hynes (Framingham CC). The trio combined for day-one score of 5-under par.
“It was an easy day with a great group,” said Van Stratum. “It was easy going with good guys and a lot of fun.”
Being in contention for an MGA Championship Proper held near his home is nothing new for Van Stratum.
After all, it was only two years ago when Van Stratum was one stroke shy of capturing the 2014 Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship, which was held that year at Cranberry Valley Golf Course.
On the final day two years ago, Van Stratum was in lock step with eventual champion Herbie Aikens before Aikens sent his 80-yard approach shot on the 36th hole to inches to set up a birdie and secure a one-stroke victory.
That experience two years ago as well as the many competitive rounds he has logged since will no doubt serve Van Stratum well through this event’s final 36 holes.
“Fairways and greens are obviously key, and if I can get three or four more putts to drop I should be right there hopefully come Thursday,” said Van Stratum. “I need to have a couple of good rounds and another under par round or even to stay somewhat close to the leaders.”
That, along with a home-cooked meal and a good night’s rest in his own bed, is hopefully going to be a winning recipe for Van Stratum.
View results for Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Golf Championship