Richard Lord: Taconic's Sennett heads to Mass. Open golf

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By Richard Lord

It's going to be a busy golfing week in Greater Boston with the Massachusetts Open and the Champions Tour's Constellation Seniors Players Championship both being played near the city.

The 54-hole Mass. Open will be played from Monday through Wedesday at Black Rock Country Club in Hingham while the Constellation Seniors Players Championship, a major on the Champions Tour, will run from Tuesday through Sunday at Belmont Country Club. The 72-hole main event begins Thursday.

Taconic Golf Club assistant professional Thomas Sennett is the lone player with current Berkshire County connections in the Mass. Open field. The 24-year-old Bennington, Vt., resident qualified by winning the Berkshire County Professional Championship last fall.

"I'm pretty excited," said Sennett, who will be playing in his first Mass. Open. "I went to check out the course last week. I've never played in that area and the course is a good test."

The South Shore venue was designed by renowned architect Brian Silva and opened in 2002, giving the field a different kind of test then they have faced in recent years when most of the host courses have been historic, old-school layouts.

According to the club's website, the Brian Silva-designed course includes some typical New England holes with woods and wetlands, links-style holes with rolling hills and mounds as well as four or five holes with high granite walls along the fairways and beside the greens (the course was built on the site of a 100-year old quarry).

"It's long and links- style with lots of rolling mounds," Sennett said. "It's going to be cool and a lot of fun."

Sennett said he believes his game is ready for the test.

"I've been playing good. I'm just going to take it shot-by-shot and not look too far ahead or too far behind."

No doubt his boss, Taconic head professional Josh Hillman, can offer advice considering he has played in multiple Mass. Opens in his career.

Speaking of Hillman, who is also the coach of the Williams men's golf team, one of his former players, Cody Semmelrock, is also in the field. The 2014 Williams graduate from Pomfret Center, Conn., who is now a professional, tied for sixth in a qualifier at Pleasant Valley Country Club with a round of 71.

While the Massachuetts Golf Association's signature event is playing on a relatively new course, the Champions Tour's best will be tested by a historic beauty. Belmont Country Club is old-style golf at its best and has plenty of history that dates back to Hall of Famer Byron Nelson winning there way back in 1937.

The Champions Tour has been moving its Players Championship to different venues in recent years with Berhard Langer capturing the last year's event in Pittsburgh.

The senior circuit's best will be in the field including Colin Montgomerie — who recently won the PGA Senior Championship for his third senior major — Langer, Fred Funk, Jeff Sluman, Hale Irwin and many more. The players, including New Englanders Billy Andrade and Brad Faxon, are looking forward to both being in Boston and playing a classic old course.

"It's huge to have a major in New England," Andrade said. "I think the last major in New England was the U.S. Senior Open at Salem in 2001 so it's been a while. You'll have the best players on the Champions Tour playing and that adds up to great excitement."

"I think it's going to be very exciting to go to Belmont Country Club and play on another classic, old-style course," Sluman said. "We really enjoy playing these types of venues, and the championship has been moved around to some great layouts. The Boston crowds will be fantastic."

The prices for the Tuesday practice rounds and Wednesday's pro-am are $20 plus tax. For the tournament days, tickets will go for $42 on Thursday, $45 on Friday, $49 on Saturday and $45 on Sunday.

For information on parking and ticket options, go to www.pgatour.com and navigate your way to the Champions Tour site.

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Congratulations to Taconic member William Hadden for his impressive third-place finish with partner Paul Heffernan Jr. in this week's MGA Senior Four-Ball Championship at Pembroke and Indian Pond country clubs in Pembroke.

Hadden and Heffernan, a member at Charles River Country Club, had rounds of 72 (Pembroke) and 67 (Indian Pond) to finish two shots behind Jack Kearney and Bill Barry Jr. of Elmcrest Country Club. Mark Forbes (Norton Country Club) and Bill Vine (Foxborough Country Club) finished second.

Hadden and Heffernan tied with four other teams for third.

•••

There will be a Mass. Amateur qualifier at Wahconah Country Club a week from Monday with seven county players in a surprisingly small field of 23 golfers.

The previously mentioned Hadden and Wahconah's Paul Briggs are the veterans in the local contigent, The five youngsters are Hayden Jarck, Chad Alibozek, Devin Farnum, recent high school graduate Owen Hunter and Tommy Cothern, who attends St. John's High School in Eastern Mass., but spends his summers in the Berkshires.

•••

Chris Basiliere will host her 10th annual "Golf with Me" Multiple Sclerosis fund-raising tournament at Bas Ridge Golf Course next Saturday.

Basliere, who was diagnosed MS 10 years ago, has been hosting the tournament ever since being dianosed. The event has raised $42,078 over its first nine years.

Basiliere is currently seeking donations, all of which are tax deductible. The Greaters New England Chapter of the National MS Society is a 501c(3) organization. The tax exempt unber is 042-493-884.

The fee to play in the tournament is $70 per person and includes greens fees, a cart, continental breakfast, a lunch buffet and prizes. It will start at 8 a.m.

To make a donation, sponsor a hole or play, call 413-655-2619 or contact Chris at chrisbas@verizon.net.

To contact Richard: rlord@berkshireeagle or 413-496-6236.


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