Chapter News

2020: WTF Was That?

This Write-Up Brought to You By: Michael Halbach, MGABoston Chapter Reporter

In the midst of a pandemic, 2020 was certainly one of the stranger seasons in Boston MGA history.  There were a number of firsts (both good and bad) to go along with some of the common sights.  With wider gaps in tee-times and post-round gatherings banned, it became nearly impossible to share each tournament’s juicy stories.  Even The Commish stated that this has been by far the most difficult season from a coordination standpoint.  We will do our best to impart some of what went on this year.

2020 began with the annual indoor kick-off event, re-named this year for the recently passed Boston MGA veteran, “Jon Scully Memorial Leslie Nielsen Classic”.  Fuck Cancer.  The event took place in early March, before shit was hitting the fan, and 20 medios came to the indoor simulator facility to kick off the rust and enjoy the open bar which is included in the cost to play.  As a non-handicap event, I assume Andrew Southgate won.  Little did we know, this would be the most highly attended event of the season.

Then COVID happened…  Boston MGA bunkered down in quarantine, with our masks/barrels of hand sanitizer/mountains of toilet paper, and did not surface for its first event until mid-June.  Re-shuffling the events, we began the sprint of playing every 2-3 weeks to get all 8 events in a much shortened window.  We found a whole new level of respect for our friends up in Yellowknife who do this on a yearly basis (minus the pandemic panic).

The first official event was the Bastards, played at the historically easy Hillview Golf Course.  Less easy was the new scoring app “Golf Game Book” adopted for live tournament scoring this season.  Sufficed to say, some members adapted to the change more easily than others (listening and reading comprehension being vital to the mission) and final scores were submitted in a combination of the app and old fashioned score cards.  To no one’s surprise Southgate DQ’d, but so did newcomer Liam Supple (not a great introduction to the MEDIOCRE Golfer’s Association, shooting 79 in his first event, enjoy those 8 penalty strokes).  Michael Halbach nearly joined the DQ crew, but his bid for 79 lipped out, and he finished with an 80 to comfortably take home his 3rd blue trucker hat.  Halbach and Southgate split the long drive/closest to the pin awards, but the interesting one was that Southgate also took home the Meltdown award en route to his DQ’ing score of 77… I know we all feel for him.

A short two weeks later, we were back at it for The MGA.  The difficulty level was ramped up more than a few notches going from one of the easiest courses on the schedule to one of the hardest – The Meadow at Peabody.  Halbach’s punishment for winning the Bastards was an 8th place finish from the blue tees taking home the golden M for most mediocre.  Brendon Lynch capitalized on his key to the red tee by taking the closest to the pin. The Golden Bear (Mike Berk) was obviously perturbed by his awful 4th place finish at the Bastards, tearing apart the notoriously difficult course to be the only player to finish with a score in the 80s, and come away with his 16th career victory.  Due to a multitude of outside factors: condensed schedule, parental duties, injury, Patrick Reed joining? – this event marked the first ever reduced purse in Boston MGA history, as fewer than 16 players took part.

Again, only two weeks after the prior event, we visited Sandy Burr Country Club (historically the venue each year for the Rebel Beach Am-Am event) for the FU Open.  And again, attendance was a struggle, with only 13 players finishing.  Rookie Liam Supple, even with his 8 penalty strokes, took the victory on a difficult day which saw only 3 players break 100. Padraic Lacey and Matt McDonough split the long drive and closest to the pin awards; conveniently as they were each from the ‘forward’ tees after a tie for last at the MGA.  ‘Xtos’ Christopoulos and Halbach each notched their 2nd top 3 of the year, with the Commish Vin Ferraro finishing 4th for the second consecutive event (NOT helping the fantasy points, as bonuses are awarded for top 3 finishes). 

The break between events was stretched to three weeks leading up to the coveted Bratish Open, contested as always at the Wayland Country Club. No attendance issue for this one, as everyone wants a shot at The Claret Juggs.  Between the extra week of rest, and the hunt for the best trophy in the game, scores were the best we had seen all season.  Mark Moriarty came away with the long drive (again aided by use of the ‘forward’ tees).  In the end it was The Commish Vin Ferraro with a winning score of 85 taking home the Juggs for the first time in his illustrious career; also completing the Mrand Slam of the Bastards, MGA, FU Open, and finally the Bratish Open being added to his resume.

Returning to the arena after another break of only two weeks, the players took on the target-golf Mecca known as Black Swan Country Club.  By far the most tightly contested event up to this point of the year, five players finished within 2 shots of the lead.  The Golden Bear sitting as leader in the club house with a net 94, saw Halbach par 18 to finish with a net 93.  Despite a couple of groups still to finish, Halbach felt confident of at least a playoff as something special would need to happen to unseat him.  That confidence quickly diminished as Andy Southgate hit the green in two on the finishing par 5, needing a birdie to tie Halbach, or an eagle would pass him.  A poorly timed 3-putt left Southgate 1 stroke short.  The last competitor with a shot was Nat Gordon, needing a par to head to a play-off.  In above-mediocre fashion Gordon birdied the last hole, leapfrogging Halbach and taking the Rebel Beach title outright with a 92.  To double up, Gordon and his teammate Terry Boland (6th place) ran away with the team event.  In an attempt to take the rest of the awards, Bill Cronin took home the closest to the pin, meltdown, and key to the red tee.

Another three week break brought us to the Fore! Championship, contested at the difficult Green Hill Golf Course.  To add to the difficulty, storms were in the forecast and medios were unsure if the event would take place.  As the first couple of groups teed off, the weather held; but it didn’t last long.  With the first group on the 3rd hole, the skies opened up in biblical fashion, inundating the course.  Standing water on the greens, with the cups overflowing, made putting laughable.  Despite players’ best efforts at rain gear, everyone was soaked through by the time the storms passed.  With the rain gone and the sun actually trying to make an appearance, the back 9 was like playing a completely different golf course from the front.  After the decision early in the round to leave the driver in the bag (result of a couple lost tee shots) Terry Boland played lights out the rest of the way to shoot an impressive 85, holding off the other members of his group (Halbach and the Golden Bear – who each finished tied for 3rd) to win his 7th career title and first Fore! Championship. Glenn Lemieux proved he is a mudder, as he notched his highest career finish, shooting 89 to finish 2nd.  Due to a DNF from Bill Cronin, the red key was award to Matt McDonough for the upcoming DBI.

Now in mid-September, the Douche Bag Invitational was the 7th event in a short 3 months.  Due to a communication snafu, the event scheduled for Hickory Hill was moved to Far Corner Golf Course at the last minute.  Boston MGA hadn’t set foot on this course since the early days of the chapter and was the site of Mike Berk obtaining his Golden Bear nickname.  In 2020, Far Corner would again add to the history of the Boston MGA in a much different fashion.  The change in venue certainly caught the eye of three medios in particular, who grew up not far from the course and have played it hundreds of times at least.  Dan Morse and Michael Halbach were two of these medios, who used their vast experience to finish tied for second, just one shot behind the winner.  The third was Matt McDonough, who also had the red key fall into his lap after Cronin’s withdrawal from the Fore!  McDonough took full advantage, combining his course knowledge (and 1100 yard advantage!) with the use of the red key to become the first ever Boston MGA winner from the forward tees, also claiming closest to the pin for good measure.  The win was a giant leap, as McDonough had only two prior top 10s to his name.  As a parting gift, he also gets to play the next event from the back tees, likely a large change from the front tees.

Early October brings us the final event of the season, The Last Gasp.  Although the top spot of the Chapter Money List was already decided (Halbach with a win and 6 top 3 finishes taking the overall), there was still a lot to play for, and see if anyone could beat Vin Ferraro who has won half (5/10) of all of the Last Gasp’s ever contested in Boston.  Chomping at the bit to get out and play, after missing the DBI, was the Golden Bear.  In the first group the Bear blitzed the course, shooting 82 (net 86), to run away with his 3rd career Last Gasp win (17th overall).  So between Ferraro and Berk, they have 8 of the 11 Last Gasp trophies allotted to the Boston MGA to-date.  The Golden Bear also solidified his 2nd place on the chapter money list, playing in only 5 events… Imagine what this guy could do if he showed up more often…  By finishing 1 stroke ahead of The Commish, Dan Morse secured 3rd place on the CML – a solid follow-up to his 2nd place campaign last year, showing it was not a fluke.  But the real story people came to see, was if McDonough would finish last to once again ping-pong tee boxes.  The short answer is yes.  As many blue tees seemed to be pushed as far back as possible, McDonough struggled, with sightings of him looking for his drive in the trees a common occurrence.  McDonough once again making Boston MGA history, last event as the first to win from the forward tees, now the first to win the key to the red tees while playing from the back tees.  We also appear to have gained a new member, Ben Friend, who played as a guest this tournament.  Ben seemed to fit in well, shooting a mediocre 105, and committed to joining full time next season, looking forward to it.

                                        

So concludes a super-sonic paced season, with lots of history made.  Here’s to hoping 2021 sees the re-introduction of post-round award ceremonies not on Zoom and much of the fun/comradery which we all joined to be a part of.  See you all next season at the 2nd annual Jon Scully Memorial Leslie Nielsen Classic (don’t forget the open bar).

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