WILLIAMSTOWN -- For medalist Glen Nelson, it was love at first sight at the Waubeeka Golf Links, and the 1-under-par 70 on his scorecard in Tuesday's Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship qualifier proved it.
"The course is in phenomenal condition," the 37-year-old Nelson said. "The greens are the truest I've putted all year. I love the golf course. It's beautiful everywhere you look."
Seeing the course for the first time when he stood on the first tee, Nelson, who plays out of Maplegate in northeastern Mass., put together a six-birdie, five-bogey round to finish two shots ahead of long-hitting UMass-Lowell senior Andrew Fecteau.
Tuesday's host club will be represented at this year's championship at George Wright Golf Course in late July. First-year Waubeeka member Adam Hall overcame a slow start to shoot a 2-over 73 and earn the third of five berths available in the 20-player field.
Capturing the final two spots were Chuck Bennison (74), the father of Taconic Golf Club assistant professional Kevin Bennison, and Alex Jacobson (75) of William J. Devine Golf Course in Boston (76).
Two Berkshire County golfers -- Hoosac Valley High School's Chad Alibozek (77) and Waubeeka member Chris Baran (78) -- got the first- and second-alternate spots. Williams College golfer Dylan Dethier, a qualifier last year, finished eighth with an 80.
"I was rusty," Dethier said. "I spent the last two weeks hiking in
Nelson, who recently missed the cut in the Mass. Open, started with three pars before a four-birdie, one-bogey stretch got him to 3 under after eight holes. He then made bogeys on 10, 12 and 14 before righting the ship with back-to-back birdies on the par-5 15th and par-3 16th holes.
"I really wasn't ever in trouble," said Nelson, who has qualified for the Public Links on a handful of occasions. "But I did have three three-putt greens, or I really could have gone really deep [under par]."
Players were trading
three-putt stories after the round as Waubeeka's lightning-quick and undulating greens proved challenging on a day when 12 of the 20 golfers failed to break 80.
"If you left the ball above the hole and didn't make the putt, you were going to have four to six feet coming back," said Baran, who knows Waubeeka well. "It seems like I had those four-to-six foot putts all day and made about half of them."
At least one qualifier, however, did credit his short game as a key to his success.
"I scrambled really well," said Hall, who joined Waubeeka after moving from St. Johnsberry, Vt. to Bennington, Vt. eight months ago. "I had a great putting day."
Hall shot an even-par 35 on the back nine after a front that included a bogey-bogey start and finish.
"I started shaky, but I held steady on the back," said Hall, 34, who will be playing in his first major Massachusetts Golf Association event. He has played in four Vermont State Amateur Championships.
Like Hall, first-alternate Alibozek handled slick greens well.
"I didn't hit it well on the back, but I made four up-and-downs and the putts were all 10 feet or more," the 17-year-old said after a final nine of 36.
To contact Richard Lord:
or (413) 496-6236.