The last time the Massachusetts Amateur Championship was held at Longmeadow Country Club 21 years ago -- the host again this year starting Monday -- it turned into a historic moment for Berkshire County golf.
Trevor Gliwski, a native of North Adams and a standout golfer at Coastal Carolina Univesity at the time, became the first county golfer to capture the state's most prestigious amateur event by defeating a member of the host club, Flynt Lincoln, 2 and 1 in the match-play final. He did it by hitting a career shot on the 17th hole while holding a shaky 1-up lead.
"No. 17 is a funky little [par 4] where you lay up off the tee and then hit a downhill second shot," said Gliwski last summer on the 20th anniversary of his win. "Flynt striped it right down the middle and I blocked a 2-iron way right and was behind some huge trees, 190 or 200 yards out. I was on a slope, in the rough, behind trees and had just lost three holes, so I was nervous. I had to hit a 40-yard slice through the trees and I hit the best 4-iron of my life."
Gliwski's miraculous shot ended up just short of the green, leading to a par and a victory over Lincoln, who captured the title the following year at the Essex Club. Amazingly, Lincoln has qualified for a second chance to win at his Donald Ross-designed home course this week.
Gliwski's victory started a memorable decade for county golfers with Stockbridge Golf Club's Jim Salinetti winning the tournament three times between 1996 and 2000.
"I felt a real sense of pride," Gliwski said. "The county wasn't spoken of as having powerhouse golfers."
This year four golfers who are members of Allied-affiliated courses -- Wyantenuck Country Club's Andy Congdon, Hayden Jarck of the Country Club of Pittsfield, Jim Patterson of Worthington Golf Club and William Hadden of Taconic Golf Club -- will be in the field. But only Congdon and Jarck can join Gliwski and Salinetti as county winners of the event because Patterson is a resident of Southampton and Hadden resides in Vermont.
In realistic terms, their chances at victory are slim at best. Making the medal-play cut -- the low 32 in the field of 146 advance to match play -- is a worthy goal. Congdon is the obvious choice as the most likely to succeed. But, despite being the 2011 Massachusetts Senior Player of the Year and the reigning South Carolina Senior Amateur champion, he isn't getting a victory speech ready.
"I've had my chances in the amateur in the past, but a 59-year-old isn't going to win the Mass. Amateur," Congdon said. "But I'll give it my best effort and I'd love to make it to match play."
Of course, if you make it to match play, funny things have been known to happen as Gliwski learned in 1992.
"You never know," said Gliwski on Saturday. "Flynt Lincoln was big in the state and he was on his home course. During the practice round, I had a 15-foot putt on that 17th hole and I never do this, but I said, ‘if I make this putt, I'm going to win the Mass. Amateur', and I made it."
Hey, you never know!
Gliwski, who visited the Berkshires last August to give a series of lessons at Waubeeka Golf Links, has left the golf instruction world for the insurance business. He has stepped down as the director of instruction at the prestigious Rick Smith Golf Academy to work for Ted Todd, who had been a Gliwski student.
According to Gliwski, Todd runs the biggest All-State agency in the country.
"I still feel like a 30 handicap in the insurance business, but I am enjoying the challenge," Gliwski said. "It's like anything, if you want to do well it's a matter of practice. It's a new and exciting chapter for me and a great opportunity."
Todd has encouraged his new employee to stay connected to golf.
"He has told me to maintain my PGA card," Gliwski said. "I told him that as long as he doesn't mind me missing some work, I'm good with that. It's gives me an extra niche in the business. How many insurance agents are PGA pros?"
Apparently, there's been another bonus to not teaching all day long -- he actually is getting to play.
"Ted and I just played golf together and I shot a 68," he reported.
The round also had a Berkshire County touch.
"One of the guys we played with is a member at Taconic," said Gliwski, who grew up learning that games at both Taconic and Waubeeka.