Spend one minute talking to legendary Massachusetts amateur Frank Vana and it’s very clear that he’s not afraid to drop a few R’s.
Take another minute to review his tournament resume and accomplishments and it’s even more clear that, while the Bay State native is no strangah to the Boston accent and it’s infamous dropping of the letter, he certainly doesn’t drop many shots on the course.
With nearly 20 years of dominance in Massachusetts and throughout New England, along with 30 appearances in USGA events (11 U.S. Amateurs, 9 State Teams and 10 Mid-Ams), that much is clear.
After claiming his record eighth Mass. Mid-Amateur title earlier this month, Vana, a nine-time winner of the MGA's Player of the Year award, caught up with amateurgolf.com to talk about his fantastic career:
amateurgolf.com: For starters, what is your background in golf? How did you get started playing and how did it become such a passion?
Frank Vana: My parents owned a driving range growing up and that helped a lot. But all my friends and I played football, hockey and lacrosse. From an early age, I learned to swing and play but I didn’t get serious about it until the seventh or eighth grade. In high school, I played football, hockey and golf. In college (West Point before transferring to Assumption in Worcester), I played hockey and golf.
AGC: With the success you’ve had for so long of a period, it’s clear you have the talent needed to compete at the game’s highest level. Did you ever consider turning pro?
FV: You know what, (former tour player from Mass.) Jim Hallett, was the only guy that did it as I was going through. I just didn’t have the desire. At the time when I was younger, I still had the desire to play hockey collegiately. That was my blood. Had I gone south, maybe that would’ve been different. After college, I just felt I should get a job. Hockey was my No. 1 spot. Fortunately, I was good enough to make teams and play golf but I was more focused on hockey at the time.
AGC: With all the wins and accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?
FV: Three things jump to my mind. First, winning the state amateur is something that at the time was tops. To be able to do it twice will always feel gratifying. Second, fortunately, I’ve been able to play in a number of USGA events and in 1999, I reached match play at the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. I lost to Ben Curtis in match play but it was such a great week with my Dad caddying. Everything about it was awesome. And third, I Monday qualified for the Deutsche Bank Championship. It was awesome. I was paired with Jason Dufner and Trevor Immelman and now look at them both.
AGC: What would you point to as your biggest win?FV: It’s hard to win --- everyone knows that especially when you do win. I had a nice streak going with five Mass. Mid-Ams in a row. I can’t say one particular moment but for that to happen, the stars definitely aligned for me. That was a really nice ride.
AGC: Which events in or out of New England do you make sure not to miss each year?
FV: I love the Ouimet Memorial. And I have never won it but the Hornblower Memorial is one of my favorites. I’m also very fortunate to be invited to play in the Northeast Amateur every year with all the young guns