PLYMOUTH, Mass – Mike Arter sank a pressure-packed four-foot downhill, breaking putt on the 36th and final hole to win the fifth annual Senior Hornblower Memorial at Plymouth Country Club on August 21.
His rounds of 70 – 72 for a four-over par total of 142 on the 6,210-yard par-69 Donald Ross masterpiece nipped four others who had shot a 143 total.
A miss would have put Arter, a Lakeville, Mass. native and Lebaron Hills Country Club member, into a five-man playoff, but his perfect putt, under pressure, garnered him his second Senior Hornblower (2015). The 120-player, no-cut field represented the cream-of-the-crop of senior amateurs aged 55 and older that New England has to offer.
There was plenty of drama in the final round on Tuesday, August 21, as four players who chased Arter had their chances. Frank Vana, of Marlboro Country Club, and one of the Bay State’s top amateurs for two decades, shot a 72 on day one as he slogged through the day’s worst conditions, and then followed that up with a 71, but he missed makeable birdie putts on No. 16, 17 and 18. Thorny Lea member Steve Tasho, a two-time State Amateur champion and three-time Hornblower champion, shot 71-72, but he missed a five footer for birdie on 18 that would have tied Arter.
“On No. 18 tee, Steve bombed a 300-yard drive, leaving him just a wedge to the green,” explained Arter in his victory interview. “He hit his second shot to five feet, which was a great shot under pressure. Steve hit a good putt, but it didn’t take the break and hung on the right edge. I am happy my putt dropped in the middle.”
Joe Walker, of Dennis Pines, shot 73-70, and John McNeill, of the Boston Amateur Golf Society (BAGS), shot 74 on day one and then had the only par round (69) during the final round from anyone in contention. Both were in the clubhouse awaiting the playoff, if Arter stumbled.
All five players have superior golf credentials with their Mass Golf tournament experience, with each one having earned exemptions both to the 2018 Ouimet Memorial that was played in late July and to the Mass Senior Amateur that will be played at Pine Brook Country Club in late September.
Mike Arter’s four-footer to seal the victory was certainly the shot of the day, but the scenario leading up to that putt evinced excitement and emotion. Here’s how the two-time champ narrated his progress:
“I played great on Monday hitting every fairway and most greens in regulation. Tuesday was a struggle. I did not have my best game, and my driving put me into some tough spots. Fortunately, I bought some new Callaway Rogue Pro irons one month ago, and my iron play got me through the day.”
“I hit a nice 8-iron from a downhill lie on 11 which set up a six-foot birdie. Unfortunately, I three putted 12 and 15. Another bogey on 16 after another poor drive left me tied for the lead with some of the best golfers in New England. Steve Tasho in my group was hitting great shot after great shot, and I could see Frank Vana up ahead, and I knew he would finish strong, so the pressure was on.”
Then came No. 17, a 400-yard dogleft left, with wildly sloping fairway and highly elevated and undulating green, that provided Mike Arter with his second-best shot of the day.
“I hit another poor drive on 17 but got lucky and had a 160-yard shot to the green out of pretty thick rough. I hit a seven iron that was pulled a little, but it got a great kick off the swale to the left of the green and rolled up about 12 feet from the hole,” Arter explained after receiving his trophy and check for pro shop credit. “The putt was straight and went in the middle, putting me one shot ahead of the field.”
However, the drama was not over and Arter made No. 18 interesting!
“Hitting first off the tee, I pushed my drive right of the fairway to the edge of the woods, leaving a 190-yard second shot with some branches to contend with,” he said. “I hit a perfect five-iron to the front of the green about 50 feet from the hole. One of the best shots I’ve ever hit, considering the situation. My first putt was pretty good but rolled four feet above the hole. I am thrilled to win!”
“Congratulations to Mike Arter for playing fantastic golf down the stretch when it mattered most,” said Senior Hornblower chairman Mike Ellis. “His tee shot on No. 17 was in trouble on the left, but he hit a miraculous second shot from the edge of the woods, which grazed some tree limbs, and then bounced off the banking to the left of the green, settling about 12 feet straight from the cup.”
“The shot Mike Arter hit from the right side of the 18th rough will be remembered as one of the best clutch shots in the history of the event,” said Plymouth County Club member and tournament photographer Joe Arsenault. “When you win by one shot on the last hole over four other players you know you have played great.”
Vana, Tasho, McNeill, and Walker had one word for Arter’s performance down the stretch “Congratulations!”
The top-10 was rounded out by (6) Paul Lacamera, a Plymouth CC member and the club’s Senior champion, who shot 71-73; (7) William Schultz, 72-73; (8) Jay Poirier, 72-74; and (9) Donald Foberg and Keith Smith, who both shot 76-71.
(Photography by Joe Arsenault)