NOW PLAYING: Massachusetts Amateur returns to Concord CC
The 114th Massachusetts Amateur is returning to one of the founding member clubs of Mass Golf.

Concord Country Club, the historic course designed in two visits by Donald Ross, will host the Mass Amateur for the third time in its history from July 11-15, featuring 144 of the state’s best amateur golfers.

The competition begins with a 36-hole stroke play qualifier to determine the 32 match play spots available. Any ties for the final spots will be broken by a sudden-death playoff at the conclusion of play on July 12. Last year at Brae Burn, there was a 10-for-7 playoff to determine the final spots, and it carried into the third day of competition.

First and second round matches will take place July 13, followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals on July 14. The competition will conclude with a 36-hole championship match July 15. The winner earns the Massachusetts Cup, while the 32 match play qualifiers earn merchandise certificates. The medalists during the stroke play portion earn the Harry B. McCracken, Jr. Medal.

“The club is very excited to host,” said David Poplyk, the head golf professional at Concord for the past 22 years. “What I’d tell the players is the course is in amazing shape, and my recommendation is stay below the hole.”

The Course

The original Concord Golf Club was founded in 1895 and in 1900 became one of the four founding clubs of the Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts, which merged with the Massachusetts Golf Association to form Mass Golf in 2018. The club later moved across town to its current site on the former Brown Farm, with a barn that was built in the 1850s still serving as the clubhouse.

In 1913, legendary architect Donald Ross was hired to build the original nine holes (current day 1, 8, 9 and 13-18) on the Brown Farm, and those holes are some of the flatter ones on the course. The course opened on July 4, 1914, and in subsequent years Ross returned occasionally to enhance the course, including bunkers. In 1928, Ross returned to build nine more holes on much more rolling and rugged terrain. Those holes opened in 1930.

Richard D. Haskell, the former Massachusetts Golf Association Executive Director and 2021 inductee into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame, once said the opening stretch of holes at Concord Country Club tell the story. “It’s a great match play course,” he said.

That message is echoed in the present-day membership at Concord, a true classic New England course that has continued to evolve and challenge the best players in the area.

“You have to be patient when you play Concord, especially holes 2-6, because there aren’t a lot of birdie opportunities,” said Tom Bagley, a longtime Concord member who will serve as the Official in Charge at this year’s championship. “It’s a golf course that tests everything. You have to be able to hit it long and straight off the tee.”

Since 2004, nearly half the holes have been lengthened to adjust for the progressively longer hitters in the game. Among those are holes 2-5 and holes 17 and 18.

“I think Concord is a bit on the short end (about 6,679 yards), but the defense will be that the greens are going to be quick, and it’s tight the first 5-6 holes,” Poplyk said.

Ross once said, “Give the player a chance to warm up a bit and get the swing of his stroke under control. Then give him some nuts to crack.” At Concord, those “nuts to crack” come early and often, as holes 2-5 are four consecutive par-4s all over 420 yards that navigate rolling terrain. The “big-league par-4” 2nd is a slopped dogleg right, and it’s followed by a dogleg left on the third.

The 4th has a wide fairway, but the approach is a carry over a deep 25-30ft gully toward a green perched atop a sand dune. After a sweeping par-4 5th followed by the steep downhill par-3 6th that makes club selection a challenge, the rest of the front nine may seem to ease up on the par-4 7th, only 383 yards with a creek to the right. However, Charlie Volpone, the 1956 Mass Amateur champion once said, “many a player has met disaster here, assuming it was a breeze.” His recommendation is to hit a driver and try to leave a short iron into the green.

Poplyk said the 352 yard, 13th, the shortest par-4 on the course, could also play a major factor in match play. If tees are up, it could be drivable, but either way it leaves many options off the tee. Ultimately, the two-tiered green could make or break that hole.

“Length will not challenge the elite, but the green complexes and getting on the right side to make pins will determine who wins and plays well,” said Dr. William Healy, a 30-year member of Concord and current president of the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund.

And he reiterated, “Concord is a fantastic match play course.”

As a founding member of Mass Golf, Concord has a long history of hosting championship events. Fittingly, its first championship was the 1953 Women’s Mid-Amateur for the Keyes Cup, which is named after Grace Keyes, a Concord member and one of the WGAM’s founders.

In total, Concord hosted eight different Mass Golf Championships, including the inaugural Mass Four-Ball in 1981.

The club hosted its first Mass Amateur as part of the club’s centennial in 1995. That year, Ed Fletcher, a retired U.S. Air Force sergeant and postmaster from Falmouth, set the record for oldest victor as the 53-year-old bested 22-year-old John Curley in the championship match. In 2007, Burgess Houston won the title over Frank Vana, Jr., and similar to Fletcher made a 5-footer on the 36th hole to win it.

The Field

Out of over 800 entries accepted, 144 advanced to the Championship Proper, including a handful of exempt players. The 32 players who made match play last year at Brae Burn Country Club are among those who earned full exemptions.

Michael Thorbjornsen, a Stanford University standout who won last year in his first appearance in the Mass Amateur, is not competing in this year’s state amateur.

John Broderick will return to Concord two years after his thrilling victory in the New England Amateur Championship. Broderick, then 16, shot a 5-under 65 in the second round went on to defeat Nick Maccario on the second playoff hole following the conclusion of the third and final round.

Included in the field are seven past champions:

2018 - Patrick Frodigh
2017 - Matt Parziale
2015 - Nick McLaughlin
2014- John Kelly
2008 & 2010 - John Hadges
2009 - Bill Drohen
2001 - Brendan Hester

Results: Massachusetts Amateur
WinMAConner WillettWellesley, MA200
Runner-upMARyan DownesLongmeadow, MA100
SemifinalsMABilly ArgusCanton, MA50
SemifinalsMAWill FrodighWestwood, MA50
MedalistMAArthur ZelmatiBoston, MA25

View full results for Massachusetts Amateur

ABOUT THE Massachusetts Amateur

Qualifying - 32 Holes at Stroke Play to determine 32 Qualifiers for Match Play. Entries are open to amateur golfers who have an active MGA/GHIN Handicap Index at any public, private, semi-private, municipal or non-real estate MGA member course/club not exceeding 4.4.

View Complete Tournament Information

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