Tee to Green: Brother and sister team have an angel looking down in winning Mixed Scotch

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The brother and sister team of Curt Foehl and Mace Foehl-Hemphill have made a habit of winning Mixed Scotch tournaments, but their most recent victory surely meant more than the others.

A day after a memorial service and reception for their late mother, Linda, the Taconic Golf Club members traveled across the state from Dover to Great Barrington and successfully defended their title in the Allied Association's Mixed Scotch tournament on Sept. 10 at Wyantenuck Country Club.

"We weren't talking about it while we were playing, but it was on our minds — 'we've got to do this for mom, she's up there watching this,'" said Mace.

Though Mace admitted she and her brother were "exhausted" from the previous day's events and the long morning drive from their late mother's house, the spirit at the service and reception surely energized the siblings as they teed it up at Wyantenuck at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

"She was an amazing woman, the service really turned into a celebration of her life," said Mace, who added that the two months between Linda's passing and the service had given her family, which also includes sons Reed and Stewart, time to mourn their loss.

"It was the best time to get the church and reception hall and get everyone together," explained Curt of the time gap. The service was at the Dover Church they attended as children, and the reception was held at the Dedham Golf and Polo Club, where they learned to play golf with their golf-loving parents.

Linda, 78, died peacefully at home of lymphoma, but both Curt and Mace have fond memories of their final year with her.

"She had a complex form of cancer and the chemo didn't take, but she defied the doctors by living for a year," Curt said. "We had a great year with her and she also had many visits from her friends."

A big part of that last year was the joy she got out of her children's golfing success.

"She wanted to hear about every shot, she loved it," said Curt, and no wonder considering the siblings won seven out of eight tournaments as partners.

"Our golf was a highlight," Mace said. "She even wanted me to text her between holes. She once texted back, 'I can't even breathe,' because she was so excited."

Mom could certainly relate to their golfing exploits. Though music, and especially playing the piano, was her No. 1 passion, she was also an excellent athlete and played golf while her mother, for whom Mace is named, won club championships at both Hyannisport Country Club and Dedham.

Growing up in a family that played golf — their father, Charlie, who passed away in 2001, was an "awesome" golfer according to Mace — has resulted in a close relationship between brother and sister. And a winning one at that.

"We love playing together, it's totally a bonding experience," said Curt, who at 54 is 18 months older than her sister..

"It's special, we have a real connection," agreed Mace. "We don't get mad at each other and if we do, that's OK, we end up laughing about it."

In recent months, there hasn't much to get mad about. Their playing styles fit perfectly together for the Pinehurst Format of Scotch play used in most of the tournaments they partner in. In that format, both golfers hit tee shots and then hit each other's ball on the second shot before finishing off the hole by alternating shots after picking the better second shot.

"We are at our best when Mace is bombing it off the tee, she hits it about 230," Curt said. "I'm steady with my irons and she's a very good putter."

"I hit it farther than most." she admitted. "But the putter is the best club in my bag."

Mace's long drives — she's arguably the longest hitter among the county's top female players — should come as no surprise. She has always been a superb athlete, having played both field hockey and squash (at a Division 1 level) while attending Williams College.

"Curt is proud of me because I am athletic," said Mace, who coached the field hockey team for 25 years and has coached the golf team of mostly boys for 20 years at Northfield Mount Hermon School.

While the duo has had tremendous success over the past few years, it took them awhile to win the Allied title, having played in the tournament for about a dozen years before last year's victory, which came at Taconic.

They played well the last time the tournament was held at Wyantenuck, which Curt says is his favorite course in the county other than Taconic, but had an ugly nine on the par-5 eighth hole that turned a potential winning score into a 75.

This time, there were no major hiccups, though both pointed to the par-3 11th hole — their 10th hole of the round — as being pivotal. Both hit poor iron shots on the downhill hole, with Mace ending up behind a tree and Curt landing in the bunker in front of the green. Their only real option was for Mace to hit Curt's ball from the sand.

"Hitting from the traps is not one of Mace's strengths," Curt said. "Anything could happen — she could leave it in the bunker or knock it over the green and out of bounds. But she hit a great shot to within six inches. That was a big momentum boost."

Riding Mace's straight — and long — driving and Curt's steady iron play, there wasn't much drama coming down the stretch, with the duo having tap-in pars on the final four holes.

When all the scores were posted, their 1-over par 71 was two shots better than the Wahconah Country Club team of Tom Czelusniak and Sue Vigeant and the pairing of Matt Ortega (Stockbridge Golf Club) and Janice Barry (Berkshire Hills Country Club).

"We were playing with John (Dahrouge) and Patty (Peltier), who we knew were one of the best teams and beat them by four shots, but I wasn't sure it was enough because we did miss some chances to do better."

With the sun shining on what Mace described as a beautiful Berkshires day, and with their belief that their biggest fan was watching from above, maybe he should have known it was their day.

- - -

Country Club of Pittsfield head professional Eric Mabee made a strong run to the finals of the Northeast New York PGA Section's Match-Play Championship at Normanside Country Club this week before running into a red-hot foe in the championship match.

Eagle Crest Golf Club's Scott Battiste birdied four of the first five holes against Mabee to build a big lead that was too much to overcome. The New York pro had six birdies overall to defeat Mabee 6 and 5 to capture his first major section championship.

On his way to the championship, Battiste also had to eliminate the section's top player in recent years, Scott Berliner, in the round of eight. He beat Berliner 2 and 1 before defeating Frank Mellett 3 and 1 in the semifinals.

Mabee advanced with wins over Steve Vatter (5 and 4), Peter Gerard (2 and 1) and Ian Breen (5 and 3).

- - -

Berkshire Hills Country Club member Ralph Dastoli captured his second consecutive victory in the Berkshire County Fall Series on Wednesday at Berkshire Hills Country Club.

Dastoli teamed with Bob Linn to shoot an 8-under 64 at the duo's home course to win by four shots in the Blue Division (younger seniors). He won with Keith Dapper the previous week at Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort.

Dapper also won for the second week in a row, teaming with Bob Maloney to win the Green Division with a 67. The field is cut in half based on ages each week.

This Wednesday's tournament is a singles event at Greenock Country Club. A reminder: Starting this week, the rest of the series' tournaments will begin with a noon shotgun start instead of 12:30, which had been the case.

Next week's tournament is a four-man scramble at GEAA on Wednesday, Oct. 4. Golfers should call the GEAA pro shop at 413-443-5746 by Friday to enter.

Reach Richard Lord at 413-281-2226 or relord633@gmail.com.

LOCAL RESULTS

Berkshire County Fall Senior Series

at Berkshire Hills Country Club

Two-man scramble

Blue Division

Low gross

1. Ralph Dastoli and Bob Linn, 64. 2. Bob Massetti and Mike Fletcher, 68. 3. Ron Carver and Paul Briggs, 69. 4. (tie) Dave Aiken and Tom Winsek, 70; Sean Sottille and John Salvini, 70.

Low net

1. Bill Gates and Mike Cartier, 62. 2. Roger Douillet and Jim Cervone, 4. 3. David Rosenthal and Mike Frankel, 64. 4. (tie) Tucker Welch and Jeff Calgari, 65; Bob Fitzgibbons and R. Davis, 65.

Green Division

Low gross

1. Bob Maloney and Keith Dapper, 67. 2. Eric Reeimer and John Davidson, 70. 3. (tie) Dick Premerlani and Bob Nackoul, 71; Dick Rivers and Fred Goerlach, 71; Jim Crews and Pat Grogan, 71.

Low net

1. Jack Bartow and Joe Krok 64 (won in match of cards). 2. Bud Poincelot and Ron Pero, 64. 3. John Rybka and Wayne Shutts, 65. 4. (tie) John Harding and Mal Douglas, 66. 4. (tie) Ken Hodgdon and Chuck Lewitt, 66; Jim Balfanz and Marty Salvatore, 66; Pete Manzolini and Arthur Holmes, 66; Fred Scully and John Meaney, 66.

Area aces

Stefen Kazmierczak, on the 187-yard seventh hole at Skyline Country Club with a 6-iron. Witness: John McVeigh.

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