Richard Lord | Tee to Green: Waubeeka gearing up for Public Links championship

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When Taconic Golf Club hosted the Massachusetts Amateur Championship earlier this month, one of those who was a very interested observer was Waubeeka Golf Links owner Mike Deep.

It served as an educational visit for Deep because his club is hosting another of the Massachusetts Golf Association's major events, the Amateur Public Links Championship, starting a week from today.

"I learned a lot about the procedures of running the tournament," Deep said. "[MGA Executive Director] Jesse Menachem and [MGA Director of Rules and Competition] Kevin Eldridge ran it beautifully."

According to Deep, Taconic's staff and members also contributed to what was a great week at Williams College's classic golfing gem.

"[Head professional] Josh Hillman and his staff were on top of everything and Taconic was in great shape," Deep said. "[Course superintendent] James Easton did a wonderful job and the members helped by out by filling divots after each round. Hopefully, our members will pitch in the same way."

The 36-hole tournament, which serves as the state championship for daily fee course members, puts Waubeeka in the state golfing spotlight as Deep continues to try and build the course's reputation as a worthy golfing destination while attempting to get an inn built on the site.

Things came together quickly in getting the MGA to commit to a second visit to Williamstown in one year.

"We had a Public Links qualifier here last year and after it I asked the MGA if we could hold a tournament here," Deep said. "They said if they could hold it on Sunday and Monday, we could host the Public Links. I didn't care about the days, it's just a great honor for them to pick Waubeeka."

This will be the first time in recent memory that one of the MGA's championships will include a weekend day, which makes it a much easier sell to players who have to travel from Greater Boston or Cape Cod or those who might have trouble getting two days off from work.

Deep believes that the 123 golfers will approve of the conditions they will find at the picturesque par-71 layout.

"Hats off to our superintendent, Brian Bartlett, and his staff," Deep said. "I think the course is in even better shape than last year. Brian hasn't skipped a beat since taking over for Greg Tudor."

Bartlett took over this spring from Tudor, who did a tremendous job before taking a job closer to his home at Schuyler Meadows Country Club in Loudonville, N.Y.

A handful of players who competed at Taconic and are also in the Public Links field checked out the course during their earlier visit to the Berkshires.

"I spoke to a couple of them and they said they were happy they took the practice round and felt that would be an advantage for them," Deep said. "They all commented on how spectacular the greens are."

Spectacular and undulating, especially on the redesigned back nine. In covering last year's qualifier, I heard most of those coming off the course comparing notes on their misadventures on the greens that led to many three putts.

Though the course measures just over 6,400 yards, nobody broke par that day with the winning score a 1-over-par 72 by Cody Booska. Three of the four golfers who qualified at Waubeeka last year -— Booska, Jesse Morgan and Wahconah Country Club's Paul Briggs — will be in the field and no doubt have a bit of an advantage as a result of last year's experience.

As for those greens, Deep said that they are running at about 10 1/2 on the Stimpmeter and that Bartlett expects that to be the case next week. That is plenty fast considering the humps and bumps on the putting surfaces.

Bartlett and his staff have been hard at work adding a pair of new tees, on the par-5 fourth hole and the par-3 seventh, that will lengthen both. The recent hot weather has added to the challenge, but they expect the new tees to be ready.

"With the hot weather, the sod farms aren't selling any grass, but Greg started a sod farm of our own and Brian is using that grass,' Deep said. "It's a different kind of grass [low-cut blue grass], but it should be fine."

The new tee box on No. 4 is directly to the left of the third green and adds about 40 yards to the hole, while the new tee on the beautiful, downhill seventh makes that hole play as long as 190 yards with a menacing stream in front of the green. The added length on the fourth, said Deep, may take the driver out of the hands of the long hitters, who currently can drive across a stream in the landing area.

Waubeeka's members will have a rooting interest with club member Jeff Bourdon having qualified at Westover Golf Club. Briggs is the only other county player to have qualified. Another familiar name to county golfers is James Patterson, who played in numerous Allied Association events as a former member at Worthington Golf Club.

Past champions in the field will include Bill Drohen (2004, 2006, 2007), Andy Drohen (2012) and Herbie Aikens (2014). Last year's winner, Nick McLaughlin, has turned professional so he is ineligible to defend his title.

While Deep, his staff and members will be involved, he learned at Taconic that Menachem and his staff run great events that put the MGA on the short list of best state golf organizations.

"They will make it easy for us," Deep said. "Jesse and his staff know what they are doing."

BULLETS

Berkshire Hills Country Club member Kevin Quinto shot a 5-over 76 to win the 16-and-over age division in Monday's Berkshire County Junior Series tournament at Stockbridge Golf Club.

Quinto defeated Greenock County Club's Thomas Fraser by five shots with Hunter Roosa, another Greenock member, finishing six shots back at 82. Quinto and Fraser have been dominant so far. They tied for the top spot in the series opener and Fraser won the second tournament.

In perhaps a preview of the upcoming high school season, the top-five finishers were members of either the Pittsfield or Lee golf teams. Quinto and fourth-place finisher Justin Martin are Generals while Fraser, Roosa and fifth-place finisher Colin Finnegan are Wildcats.

It's been a big week for Quinto. In addition to winning for the second time in three junior series events — he tied with Fraser in the series opener — he also hit his first career hole-in-one on the 13th hole at Berkshire Hills during the opening round of the Berkshire Hills Singles on Friday.

Monday's other winners were Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort's Harrison Seeley with a 91 in the 13-and-under division and Waubeeka Golf Links' Ryan Baran with a 96 in the 14-15 age division.

This Monday's event, the fourth in the series, will be played at Worthington Golf Club.

BULLETS

The second annual Berkshire Children and Families Golf Classic will be held at the Country Club of Pittsfield on Monday, Aug. 22.

Proceeds will benefit the Berkshire Children and Families' Kids 4 Harmony, an el-Sistema inspired, intensive, after-school music program designed to effect social change. Kids 4 Harmony is offered in North Adams at Brayton Elementary School and in Pittsfield at Morningside Community School.

The tournament will tee off at 1 p.m. with a shotgun start. The cost to enter is $200 per person or $800 per team with lunch and dinner included.

BCF, which has served the children and families of Western Massachusetts for more than 125 years, is looking for both golfers and sponsors. Contact Erin Sullivan at esullivan@berkshirechildren.org or call413-448-8281, extension 236 for more information.


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