PLYMOUTH, Mass – The 57th Hornblower Memorial Invitational at Plymouth Country Club returns to its traditional time slot in 2021, the first Friday (4th) and Saturday (5th) in June.
Hallelujah! Finally, all is right in our Massachusetts golf world!
The unplayable lies from Covid-19 that bedeviled and bewildered Massachusetts golfers in 2020 have transformed into free relief for us all, and the first prestigious New England amateur tournament of the 2021 season heralds the start of what will become a summer to remember for, this time, all the right reasons.
Nick Maccario Defends While Others Contend
Nick Maccario of Bradford CC earned last year’s championship in the pandemic-delayed August event and shortly afterward earned state-wide acclaim as the 2020 Richard D. Haskell Mass Player of the Year (POY). His rounds of even-par 69 and then his astounding 66 in tropical-storm conditions fashioned a three-under par 135 and a one-stroke victory.
The runner-up was good friend and frequent fellow-competitor Chris Francoeur of Amesbury G&CC, who led after Friday with a dominating 63, but then he fell to a 73 in the pre-Isaias onslaught. Francoeur finished third in POY standings, just behind another of this year’s pre-Hornblower favorites, Matt Parziale of Thorny Lea.
Max Ferrari (16th in POY) of Framingham CC caught Francoeur with a final-round 69 that followed his 67. Colin Brennan (5th in POY) of Indian Ridge CC finished fourth with the last under-par score of 137 (67-70). Ben Spitz (6th in POY) of George Wright GC secured fifth with an even par 138 (65-73).
Maccario eagerly anticipates both the defense of his title and the respect he has for the Donald Ross masterpiece.
“The course is always challenging, mainly with some of the toughest greens we play,” said Maccario in a pre-tournament interview. “Getting through the very tricky par-4 7th and par-3 8th without making a big number will be essential to my success. One of my favorite holes is the par-5 16th with its risk-reward scoring opportunity, especially on the second day with only two holes left to play.”
“I particularly enjoy the atmosphere at Plymouth, where the staff and volunteers are so helpful and the spectators are always so supportive. Coming up to the 18th green on the second day, especially if you are in contention, is as good as it gets for a competitive golfer. No question, the Hornblower is one of my favorites.”
Contenders Who Will Not Be Denied
Maccario’s follow-up triumph, however, will absolutely demand that he flaunt his POY credentials. A formidable full field of 156 other competitors, gleaned from more than 250 applications, will aspire to usurp his crown. These tournament-ready stalwarts include another 12 from the top 20 of the 2020 POY standings—besides the six already mentioned—a number of past champions, and a plethora of accomplished players in collegiate, regional, and national events.
“The Hornblower is one of my favorite tournaments to play in every year, too,” said Chris Francoeur. “PCC is also one of my favorite courses because it not only will test your short game but also will reward you if you hit the ball into the right spots. Everyone on the Hornblower and country club staff is the best, and I appreciate how well the tournament is run.”
And Francoeur added some extra incentive for moving up to the ultimate spot, “I am really looking forward to this opportunity since it will be my last summer of amateur golf.”
The competition should be intense with so many proficient golfers vying for that trophy. Those who can also shoot up the leaderboard based upon previous results include the following 30 gunslingers: Herbie Aikens, Mike Arter, Samuel Barton, Shuvam Bhaumik, John Broderick, Dillon Brown, Mike Calef, Dan Cappucci, Doug Clapp, Nick Drago, Andy Drohen, William Englander, Sean Fitzpatrick, Don Foberg, Will Frodigh, Victor Galvani, Brendon Gillis, John Hadges, Jack Kearney, Bobby Leopold, Nick McLaughlin, Owen Quinn, Shane Richardson, Michael Sosik, Ricky Stimets, Kyle Tibbetts, James Tyer, Frank Vana, Ryan Whitney, and Jared Winiarz.
What Makes the Hornblower Special
Maccario, Francoeur, Parziale, Ferrari, Brennan, Spitz, and all Hornblower veterans recognize and praise the preparation for and operation of the Memorial—for well-founded reasons. Although the players all take the center stage on Friday and Saturday, the many personnel in the wings do a superb job from early spring all the way through to the presentation ceremony on Saturday afternoon.
“Yes, last year was definitely a challenge for us and the players with all of the necessary restrictions and the extra effort required to keep everybody safe, while still providing them with an enjoyable experience,” said Director of Operations Mike Roy. “That was complicated even more by the powerful northeast winds the players dealt with both days, specifically on Saturday. This year we are hoping for calmer weather to accommodate the great golf. The course is in amazing shape, and the entire staff is ready and looking forward to being of assistance as we greet old and new friends back to Plymouth Country Club.”
Plymouth Country Club Head Professional Steve Field and his staff have been diligent in their efforts.
“The Hornblower is one of the most important weekends in our golf season,” said Plymouth Head Professional Steve Field. “Steeped in tradition, held at a phenomenal golf course, and boasting a field of the best amateur golfers in New England, the Hornblower is a unique competition. As a golf staff, we love every minute of it.”
“We certainly had a thrilling duel last year, but we sorely missed the fans and the players chatting and relaxing with refreshments in the clubhouse after the rounds,” said a delighted Club President and Hornblower Chairman Mike Ellis. “We are pleased to announce that spectators are welcome both to watch some exciting golf and to utilize all club facilities, including a limited menu in the club restaurant and bar.”
Superintendent Ben Whiting has his crew currently grooming the course to exacting Hornblower conditions, but he has spent the entire off-season renovating sections of the course for increased playability, and he has conducted extensive tree work on several holes. In addition, to add to the drama on Saturday, the championship tee on the 18th hole has been totally reconstructed to provide a different and more difficult driving concern.
“I am always happy to showcase PCC for the Hornblower,” addded Superintendent Ben Whiting. “The greens will be at their peak speed, the fairways are exemplary, and the rough is already plush. All we need now is for Mother Nature to cooperate.”
Spread the news! The 57th edition of the Hornblower Memorial Invitational is back. Exactly where it should be!
(PHOTO CREDITS to David Colt Photography)