MGA Super Senior championship set to begin at Wyantenuck

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There will be 120 golfers teeing off on Wednesday at Wyantenuck Country Club who serve as prime

examples of why golf is called the "game of a lifetime."

Those entered in the Massachusetts Golf Association's Super Senior Championship are age 65 and older, but don't let that fool you.

"The competition is great," said MGA Executive Director Jesse Menachem. "The baby boomers still have

the drive, competitive spirit and talent to compete."

The winners of the first three MGA Super Senior championships have finished at 1-over 71 (Peter Brumme, at Cohasset Country Club, 2014), 1-under 139 (Doug Crawford, Bass Rocks Golf Club, 2015) and 7-over 149 in extremely windy conditions (Dick King, Cummaquid Golf Club, 2016).

"There are a ton of good players 65 and over who can really play," said Stockbridge Golf Club member Jim Finnerty, who tied for 28th at Cummaquid to earn an automatic exemption into this year's event. "I bet the winning score will be no more than 3-over par and I wouldn't be shocked if someone finished under par unless we get bad weather."

Unfortunately for the golfers, forecasts of cool temperatures and rain suggest that could be the case.

The MGA's addition of the Super Senior tournament has proven to be a wise move. It only took a year to discover that the demand was such that qualifying tournaments were quickly added. There were three sites this year.

"The growth has been tremendous and it's entirely what I expected," said Menachem, who is in his fourth year leading the MGA. "We immediately saw that we needed to add qualifying sites."

Like Menachem, Finnerty isn't surprised by the tournament's instant success.

"It's the baby boomer generation, we're a generation that loves golf," said Finnerty, who will be joined in the field by fellow Stockbridge members Jim McMenamy and George Fleischner, who both earned spots in qualifiers. They are the only three Berkshire County golfers in the field.

Finnerty, who calls Wyantenuck his "second home course," hatched a plan in 2016 that eventually led to his earning a spot in this year's tournament.

"When I saw that the MGA was going to play at Wyantenuck this year, I went to a little nine-hole course in Rockport to qualify for last year's tournament with my mission being to play well enough to earn an exemption for this year," the 66-year-old said.

He did just that, qualifying at Rockport with a 77 before finishing at 19-over 161 in the tough conditions at Cummaquid. That was good enough to get him into this year's field.

Finnerty, who captured the MGA's Senior Four-Ball Championship in 2010 with Paul Murphy (Charles River Country Club), admits his game hasn't been tournament-tested recently and as a result he said he doesn't have high expectations.

"I have spent the summer on Nantucket and I haven't played much competitive golf," Finnerty said. "I have been playing at Miacomet [on the island] and practicing a lot to get as ready as possible, but it really helps to have played some competitive golf."

Still, the venue could give him an edge over many in the field.

"I know the course well and that's an advantage and its great to be playing at home and not having to travel to the other end of the state," Finnerty said.

The field, which will include all three past champions and a host of golfers who have had successful amateur careers, will be by challenged by a par-70 course that earned rave reviews when it hosted the 2011 Mass. Amateur Championship.

"We've had a lot of practice rounds and the golfers have been very complimentary of the course,' Wyantenuck head professional Tom Sullivan reports. "One of them told me we have PGA Tour-type of greens. That's compliment to Peter [superintendent Bacon]."

Sullivan said the course will likely be set up to play at about 6,200 yards — the back tees at the Great Barrington course measure 6,456 yards -- as the MGA attempts to dial in the right number for the 65-and-over

set.

"It's important to get up an appropriate-length course to make sure it matches the skill level," Menacham

said.

There was no hesitation on the part of the MGA to have Wyantenuck as the host course for one its

championships for the second time this decade.

"Wyantenuck hosting another MGA tournament speaks to the commitment of the membership to the

game," Menacham said.. "Wyantenuck has proven to be a great venue at any level. The course is always in great shape. Peter Bacon does a tremendous job.

"The course has a lot of character and this group of 120 will really enjoy it."

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The tee times for Wednesday's first round will run from 8-9:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.-1:30 p.m. The field will be

cut to the low 70s and ties after the first round.

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