200 New England PGA Professionals Set For Test of Patience, Skill at 100th Section Championship
BOYLSTON, Mass. – Two hundred New England PGA Professionals will fight to win the 100th NEPGA Section Championship next week at Myopia Hunt Club and Tedesco Country Club.
The NEPGA will return to Myopia, the site of it’s inaugural championship, to celebrate its centennial with the 200-player field alternating between Myopia and Tedesco Aug. 17 and 18. The top 60 players, plus ties, will advance to the championship round at Myopia Hunt on Aug. 19.
Ceremonial tee shots at both courses will get the action started on Monday morning to celebrate the Championship’s 100 years of history. Charles Volpone, PGA, the 1971 and ’74 NEPGA champion, will hit the commemorative shot at Myopia Hunt, while Bob Green, PGA, who served 41 years as the head golf professional at Tedesco Country Club, will hit the ceremonial shot at his home course.
While it’s been 100 years since the Section Championship was held at Myopia Hunt, the course may not play too much differently than it did in 1921 when Gil Nichols shot 78-78 to win the one-day, 36-hole championship. A 6,555-yard Par 72 layout, Myopia plays just 200 yards longer today than it did when the original 18 holes were completed in 1901.
“It’s a true testament that every golf course does not have to be 7,000 yards to be difficult,” said Michael Bemis, PGA, Myopia Hunt head golf professional. “The difficulty has not changed. There’s a premium on accuracy. If you try to overpower this golf course, you’ll have a long day.”
While short by today’s standards, Myopia is defended by narrow, sloping fairways which funnel into 120 strategically-placed bunkers. A well-placed tee shot is merely the first test. Myopia’s 18 greens are a devilish cocktail of false fronts, deceptive slopes, and turtlebacks, many of which are protected by deep pot bunkers, reducing landing areas to just a small fraction of the putting surface itself.
“We have certain holes that look like you can attack them because they’re short, and then all of the sudden you hit false fronts on greens, greens that roll front-to-back, and you hit a good shot and the next thing you know you’re in a pot bunker because you mis-played by two feet,” Bemis warned.
Just a dozen miles down the road from Myopia sits another Section Championship test, Tedesco Country Club. A 6,468-yard Par 70 layout, Tedesco echoes many of the challenges players will face at Myopia: Tall fescue and rough, deceptive greens, and a premium on the second shot.
“Getting your ball in play off the tee and then with your second shots you have to find the right part of the greens, and that’s very similar to Myopia,” said Jake Leech, PGA, Tedesco Country Club head golf professional. “It takes driver out of a lot of power players hands. It’s more precision off the tee and then you have to be a really good short-game artist. Your chipping and your putting have to be pretty spot-on in order to get out of here with a reasonable score after 18 holes.”
Players will be met by two of the longest par-3s in New England. After opening with a welcoming 276-yard par 4 and 488-yard par 5 at Myopia, players must navigate a 252-yard par 3, which requires a 210-yard tee shot to clear a crossing bunker. Tedesco boasts its own beast of a par 3, the 238-yard 7th hole with water down the left, bunkers left and right of the green, and out-of-bounds long.
In addition to the Mahan Trophy and an attractive purse, 10 spots in the 2021 PGA Professional National Championship will be on the line. Seul-Ki Hawley, PGA (Winchester CC) and past PNC champion Rich Berberian, PGA (Vesper CC) are already exempt into the National Championship.
Nine past champions with a combined 15 NEPGA Section Championships, including 13 of the last 20 winners, are in the field. That list includes defending champion Shawn Warren, PGA (Falmouth CC) who also won in 2013; and three-time champions Berberian and Kirk Hanefeld, PGA (Salem CC).
Warren won in dramatic fashion at Manchester Country Club last year, draining long putts on his final three holes, including birdies on his final two, to erase a three-stroke deficit for a one-shot win. Berberian, a two-time PGA Professional Player of the year, hoisted the Mahan Trophy in 2014, ’15 and ’18.
Hanefeld, the other three-time champion in the field, is essentially playing a home game. Both Myopia Hunt and Tedesco are within 10 miles of Salem CC. But it’s not the short commute that makes Hanefeld a player to watch, it’s the combination of his previous triumphs and his recent form that make him a favorite. Just last month Hanefeld decimated the field at the NEPGA Senior Championship, shooting the low round of the day each day en route to a seven-stroke win. Hanefeld displayed the same skills that will be required to succeed at Myopia and Tedesco along the way, hitting seemingly every fairway and rolling in putts from all distances to slam the door.
Two-time champion John Hickson, PGA (1995, 2011) joins Troy Pare, PGA (2005), Frank Dully, PGA (2006), Paul Parajeckas, PGA (2009), Eddie Kirby, PGA (2012) and Liam Friedman, PGA (2017) in the past champion category.
The 100th NEPGA Section Championship is presented by Omega and Club Car, with support from Nike, Titleist, FootJoy, TaylorMade, PGA TOUR, Mohegan Sun and Avidia Bank. Follow the New England PGA on Twitter (@NEPGA), Instagram (NewEnglandPGA) and Facebook (New England PGA) for Section Championship updates before, during and after the tournament.
About the New England PGA: The New England Professional Golfers’ Association (New England PGA) has been making the game of golf better for over 100 years in New England. The New England PGA is a non-profit association dedicated to promoting the game of golf and is one of the 41 sections that comprise the PGA of America. The New England PGA consists of over 900 PGA Class A golf professionals and over 140 PGA apprentices at over 450 golf facilities in five states — Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts & Maine. These facilities include public, private and resort golf courses, teaching centers, and driving ranges.