The 44th consecutive year playing the NHC/NEPGA Championship at North Conway CC brought some challenges to complete the two scheduled rounds to be played. The summer of rain continued, and we had to adjust to complete the tournament. When all was said and done, we got all 36 holes completed.
As always the atmosphere was awesome. The staff, maintenance crew, and members treat us like family the moment we arrive at the club. It doesn’t stop until the last chapter member leave the facility on Tuesday after the event is complete. We have something really special with this event. I would say you might not find this with any PGA Chapter in the country, we are very lucky.
Day 1 started a little sunny with many clouds. During the day we had short periods of rain, but it was a good day on the course according to the scoring that went on. Rico Riciputi of Wentworth by the Sea ended the day at 2 under par 69 to take the day 1 lead. He had 3 birdies and only 1 bogie to shoot that score. There were 5 players that came in at 1 under par on day 1, being 1 stroke behind Rico. They were Sam Cody of Stonebridge, Mitch Jefferson or Rochester, Joe Finemore of Portsmouth, Chris Houston of Laconia, and Lucas Langelier of Cochecho. Austin Baker of Souhegan and Sam Read of Den Brae both shot even par 71 to find themselves 2 behind the leader. Jay Pollini of Ridgewood, Dan Wilkins of Laconia, and Tom Smith of Atkinson each shot 72 and were 3 strokes behind Rico.
Day 1 of the senior division saw Vince Molesky of Stonebridge shot an even par 71 to take a 1 stoke lead. Bob McGraw of Eagle Mountain and Cory Mansfield of Derryfield found themselves 1 stroke behind as they each shot 1 over 72. Bill Andrews of Portsmouth and Greg Sandell of Golf Club of NE shot a pair of 74’s to finish day 1 3 strokes behind the leader.
Day 2 brought the biggest challenge of the tournament to get the second 18 holes in. It rained Monday evening into Tuesday. When I arrived at the club on Tuesday it was still raining, but not as hard as it did all night. The course was wet but playable according to the super of North Conway. They did an amazing job getting the course ready for play on day 2.
The Championship Division saw the leader, Rico Riciputi shoot even par on the front nine. Cody and Finemore shot 1 over on the front and found themselves 2 strokes behind at the turn. Jefferson and Langelier shot 2 over and found themselves 3 behind after completing the front 9. Houston struggled on the front nine shooting 41 and now was 7 behind. The back nine saw some movement on the leaderboard. The back nine say Riciputi par the first 7 holes but falter on 17 & 18, making bogie on both those holes. Finemore shot even par on the back to end up even par for 36 holes and tied with Riciputi. Jefferson shot an even par back nine and ended up 1 behind the leaders. Langelier and Cody ended up tied for 4th 2 strokes behind. Riciputi and Finemore went to the 1st hole for a sudden death playoff. They both hit nice drives in the very challenging conditions. Finemore slipped on his 2nd shot and hit it to the right. Riciputi hit a nice second shot leaving 15 fee for birdie. Finemores 3rd shot was just short and plugged in the bunker leaving him an impossible shot to try to make par. Rico 2 putted for par and was crowned NHC/NEPGA 2023 Champion. Rounding off the top ten were: Dan Kish (who shot 70 in the 2nd round to make up allot of ground) and Chris Houston were 3 behind in a tie for 6th place, Jay Pollini and Todd Rollins tied for 8th place 5 behind the top spot, Tim Smith and Austin Baker ended up tied for 10th at 7 over par.
The Senior Division started on the back nine today. Leader Molesky shot a 3 over 39 to start the day. Mansfield shot 38 and found himself tied for the lead after completing the first nine holes. McGraw also shot a 39 and stayed 1 back of Molesky and Mansfield. The next nine holes (the front nine) is where Molesky took control of the tournament. He had all pars and 2 birdies to finish the day at 1 over and 2 day total of 1 over. Mansfield and McGraw faltered on the 1st and 2nd holes. Mansfield found himself 4 down and McGraw was 2 down. Neither one of them recovered and Molesky ended up besting McGraw by 6 strokes to take the Senior Championship. Bill Andrews of Portsmouth (74-76) and Jon Ellis (77-73) of The Oaks tied for 3rd place. Mansfield (72-79) tied with Sandell (74-77) for 5th place.
Congratulation to both Rico Riciputi and Vince Molesky for winning their prospective championships. We also need to congratulate all the players that toughed it out for 2 days in the less than ideal conditions.
We would like to thank all of our Partners that helped make this a special event for the NHC members. They are The PGA Tour, Avidia Bank, Davis & Towle Insurance Group, Central Insurance Company, Blue Bird Storage, New England Golf Cars, and Branded Bills.
The most important thank you goes to everyone at North CC. The members give up their course for us year after year. The moment we arrive they treat us like we are also members. They go out of their way to make us welcome. The course Superintendent, Andrew Bechtold and his staff did an excellent job under less than ideal weather. Kevin & Michelle Walker and their staff make this event run seamlessly. Each year everything just falls into place and we all have a great time. Can’t wait to return in 2024!