Richard Lord | Tee to Green: 64-year-old Bob Linn, 9 other locals gunning for spot in Mass. Amateur
However, with his home club hosting a Massachusetts Amateur Championship qualifier on Monday, the 64-year-old chose familiarity over a new adventure this time. Linn will tee it up with 26 others at the Pittsfield club seeking a spot in this year's Amateur. The top four finishers and ties will advance to June's main event at Boston's George Wright and William Devine golf courses.
Unlike last year, when less than handful of Berkshire County players attempted to qualify at Waubeeka Golf Links, 10 players in Monday's 27-player field are members at county courses.
While Linn, the 2009 MGA Senior Player of the Year, has failed to make the cut in the previous two Mass Ams, he had reason to feel good just competing in the state's most prestigious amateur event — he was the oldest man in the field both times.
"Last year I qualified at Hatherly [Country Club], a great little course [on Boston's South Shore]," Linn said. "And while I didn't make the cut at Charles River (Country Club), I did get to play there for two days."
While earning a spot in the state's most prestigious amateur tournament is difficult at any age, Linn is bullish on his game as Monday nears.
"I can drive it down a bowling alley right now, and I have never felt so good with my putter " said Linn in a phone interview shortly after shooting a 69 at the Hills with a double bogey.
Linn points to his work over the past year with Wyantenuck Country Club head professional Tom Sullivan as making a big difference in his game.
"Since working with Tommy, I have changed a lot in my game," Linn said of Sullivan, recently named the Northeast New York PGA's Professional of the Year and well-known as one of the state's top teachers. "He has taught me that the clubhead does everything. The two main things he has gotten me to do have really given my swing a better rhythm."
A recent putting lesson from Sully has given Linn another shot of confidence.
"I was there for a swing lesson, but Sully knows my putting was suspect so he looked at that," said Linn, who said it took about four minutes for the pro to make a few subtle changes that worked instantly.
"Oh my God, what a difference," Linn said. "I had two lessons with Tom last year and one this year, so I spent about $200 in lessons and have won almost $1,500 in prizes since going to him."
Another veteran amateur to watch on Monday will be 14-time Country Club of Pittsfield club champion Matt Scarafoni. The 46-year-old is playing much more golf after a handful of years when coaching his son's baseball teams took him away from the golf course.
"I have played tons of golf this year, more than I have in a long time, so I hope to be prepared and there will be no excuses if I don't play well," said Scarafoni, who has qualified five times in the past but hasn't attempted to earn a berth in recent years.
"I am very pleased we are playing at Berkshire Hills," the long-hitting Scarafoni said. "It suits my game. There are a lot of par 5s (five) and I will get to hit my driver a lot."
Like Linn, Scarafoni points to his teaching pro, Country Club of Pittsfield head professional Eric Mabee, as having a big impact on his game, especially the mental approach to it.
"We play a lot and Eric has given me so many tips that have changed my game," Scarafoni said. "He has taught me a lot about playing situational golf. With golf, you never stop learning."
Scarafoni figures it will take about a 1-over 73 to move on to Boston and believes he is capable of that or lower
"I have always played Berkshire Hills well and anything can happen in one day," said Scarafoni, who will also play in next weekend's best-ball Country Club of Pittsfield Men's Invitational with Pioneer Valley golfer Chris Ferriter.
The rest of the county entrants are young guns Kevin Quinto, Adam Brickle and Matt Gilardi along with former Wahconah Country Club club champion Paul Briggs, Berkshire Hills member Justin McKennon and Wyantenuck members Brian Cunningham, Mike Schopp Jr. and Ben Schopp.
Quinto, a former Pittsfield High star and current member of the golf team at Christopher Newport in Virginia, was the top county finisher in last year's qualifier at Waubeeka with a 79. It took a 74 to qualify. Briggs shot an 81.
While Scarafoni is attempting to earn his way to the Mass. Am, playing partner Mabee will be after a bigger prize — a berth in this year's U.S. Open — when he takes part in a 36-hole sectional qualifier at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J.
Mabee, who shot a 1-under 69 to tie for medalist honors with New Hampshire golfer Chelso Barrett in the local qualifier at Stockbridge Golf Club, will tee off on Canoe Brook's South Course at 8:12 a.m. on Monday. Starting on the South, which measures just 6,691 yards compared to 7,066 for the North, was his preference. It is a nine that, like Berkshire Hills, has five par 5s.
"The South course has one par 5 that is under 500 yards and the North has a par 4 that is over 500, so there is a substantial difference," he said.
The 81-player field will include PGA Tour veterans Johnson Wagner and Dudley Hart, along with Web.com winner Rob Oppenheim, European Tour winner Steve Allan and past NCAA individual champion Cameron Wilson.
"It's 36 holes and it is going to be a grind," Mabee said. "I am going to have to be ultra patient. It's a cliche, but it's one hole at a time. You can never be too up or too down."
Mabee is a very confident player who knows that at some point he is capable of getting hot and he obviously hopes that is the case on Monday.
"I can get hot with the best of them, you never know when that might happen," he said.
Weston Happ, who played on Monument Mountain High's Western Mass. championship team in 2001 and at Muhlenberg College, earned a spot in the Maryland Amateur Championship, which will be played next weekend at Baltimore Country Club.
Happ, who plays annually in the Wyantenuck Four-Ball in the summer with former high school teammate Chris Conklin, shot a round of 4-over par 76.
The team of Paul Gilardi, Mike Kasuba, Tom Granitto and Bernie Malumphy finished with a 36-hole, best-ball total of 125 to capture the overall championship in the 34th annual Fraser Memorial tournament at Skyline Country Club.
Money raised from the tournament will be used to help fund college scholarships for graduating high school seniors.
Skyline Country Club
Fraser Memorial Golf Tournament
Captain and Crew Format
Blue Moon Division
1. Paul Gilardi, Mike Kasuba, Tom Granitto, Bernie Malumphy: 63-62 — 125. 2. (tie) Matt Gilardi, Paul Traversa Ray Parrot, Joe Fabino: 62-62 — 126; Joe Frew, Tony Clement, Mike Ostrikis, Fran Giardina, 62-62 — 126; Tom McKenna, George Claffey, Tim Dufur, Butch Pisani, 63.
Miller Lite Division
1. Micky Kruger, Bob Powers, Chuck Kruger, Don Anderson: 65-66 — 131. 2. (tie) Art Holmes, Matt DeChaine, Ron Bernardi, Pete Manzolini: 66-66 — 132; Steve Gromacki, Tom Guinan, Tim Doyle, Jason Rowett: 67-65 — 132. 4. Steve Wood Jr., Dave Tynan, Craig Benoit, Brett Martin: 66-67 — 133.
Coors Light Division
1. Matt D'Avella, Dick Bordeau, Shane Parrott, Glen Marion: 68-64 —132; 2. Andy Higgins, Tom Lorico, Rico Traversa, Mike Boggs: 67-66 — 133; 3. Scott Colbert, Evan Colbert, Dave Veins, Ernie DeChine: 69-65 — 134.
Berkshire Hills Country Club
Berkshire Hills Pro-Am
1. Tom Sennett, 71. 2. Bob Mucha, 73.
1. Sennett, Baran, Griffin, Sawyer, 130. 2. Tyrol, Linn, Brown, Hornbeck, 131. 3. (tie). Hillman, Gillian, Polucci, Crowe, 132. Gebauer, Evans, Gebauer, Johanson, 132.
The Links at Worthington
Best of Four
1. Joe Macutkiewicz, Abe Macutkiewicz, Mike Macutkiewicz, Pete Chalstalia, 64 (won match of cards) 2. Tom Krawkzyk, Craig Pease, Mark Canata, Mark Ahern, 64. 3. Andy Roger, Sam Moody, Kevin Bagge, Bruce, White, 65,
1. Scott Preston, Steve Estelle, David Pollard, Jeff Racz, 54. 2. Mike Geary, Bill Spitzer, Dave Pasterbak, Chuck Baker, 55. 3. Pete Conlin, John Dabrowski, Chris Baran, Peter Baran, 56.
Richard Lord can be reached at email@example.com or 413-281-2226.
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