PLYMOUTH, Mass – A cool, stiff northeast wind blew directly across Plymouth Country Club from Plymouth Harbor, and it probably would have veered the Mayflower toward Providence if she had been trying to find a safe mooring.
Despite the unpredictable weather conditions, the 2019 edition of the Hornblower Memorial Pro-Am on May 30 proceeded without turbulence, and the 55th annual tournament was launched to the accolades of the 30 foursomes that participated in the Pro-Am.
At the luncheon prior to the round, Hornblower competitors took the time to catch up with one another’s latest exploits. Plymouth Country Club members remarked how the wet spring would reduce run but would allow for unusually receptive greens, and the player’s appreciated the tip before teeing up at one of New England’s more popular layouts.
The atmosphere was laid back, congenial, and festive, as the players prepared for an afternoon full of fun before the 36-hole tournament begins on Friday May 31 for 156 of the best amateur golfers in the region.
Plymouth Country Club’s logo is the iconic “Mayflower,” and the Donald Ross golf course that reflects the spirit of “America’s Hometown” is as solid as that “1620” rock. Still, under the careful auspices of longtime PCC member John McCall, the Pro-Am produced some enviable scores, five superlative Skins, incomparable camaraderie, and three “No-Way” admonishments to the Hornblower field.
Let’s look at the admonishments first. Thirty select Hornblower participants—former champions, perennial contenders, and a number of young lions—played with 90 members and guests to get the 55th annual event rolling. Many players had the same post-game mantra: “Whoever wins this Hornblower can’t (1) leave the ball above the hole; (2) short side himself to the pin; and (3) miss the fairway to become ensnared in the robust rough.”
That advice was reiterated over palliative cocktails and replenishing hors d’oeuvres, notwithstanding, the winning score on the par-69 layout was 126, with two balls counting per hole—one gross ball and one net ball. The victorious team, captained by Mark O’Sullivan, of The International in Bolton, was 12-under par with support from John O’Connor, Scott Dempster, and Brendan Nolan.
One-shot back were two teams at 127: Colin Brennan, of Indian Ridge, and his three compatriots, Chris Thurston and Jon Ofria and Stephen Thurston, who won a matching of cards over the third-place team of 2016 Hornblower champ and Nashua native Brandon Gillis, now at URI, and teammates Jay Stratton, Bob Martin, and Tom Frost.
Low round of the tournament, a five-under 64, was carded by Elon College sophomore Max Ferrari, who drove with reckless abandon, hit iron shots without going off course, and negotiated the severe up-down-and sideways green undulations with relative ease — sort of like an expert Formula One champion who was hitting on all cylinders. Sleek, very sleek.
Ferrari guided his team to a fifth place finish in the Pro-Am with a nine-under par 129. His only miscue, surrounded by six birdies, was on the par-3 15th, where his tee shot was short and left, and he couldn’t get up and down for par. Riding Ferrari’s shoulders were PCC member Bruce Lutz, defending Hornblower champ Matt Parziale’s dad Vic, and award-winning golf writer Leigh MacKay.
Max Ferrari also garnered one of the five Skins with his birdie on the No. 1 handicap, par-4 12th hole. Bill Jenks (5th hole) of Brae Burn and 2015 Hornblower champ Nick McLaughlin (11th hole) of Far Corner GC also had a birdie without a peer. Two eagles completed the Skins brigade: 2019 Mass Four Ball champ Mike Calef of Pine Oaks hit the 290-yard par-4 6th with his drive and then sunk the putt, and Nathan Ingram of the Harmon Club smashed his second shot onto the 505-yard, par-5 16th to set up his one putt.
Fridays first-round action begins at 6:30 a.m. with Mike Kennedy of New Haven CC, Ryan Riley of Pine Oaks, and Ben Spitz of George Wright leading the way. The day won’t end until the final 3:02 p.m. group of Colin Buckley of Plymouth CC, Kyle Heffernan of PCC, and Erik Robinson of Sandwich Hollows walks off the 18th green.
The public is invited to watch some of New England’s best players tackle the demanding Plymouth Country Club layout.
Follow the tournament action at www.hornblowermemorial.com/.
(CREDIT: Photography by Leigh MacKay)