Richard Lord | Tee to Green: Gaffey dips toes into competitive play
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Gaffey.
Waubeeka Golf Links member Jamie Gaffey decided it was finally time to dip his toes into the deep end of golf competition, entering his first MassGolf qualifier last week at The Ledges in South Hadley, and he's glad he did.
The 39-year-old, who says he only recently decided to try to qualify for a big state event, fired a 3-over par 75 to earn a spot in this year's Massachusetts Public Links Championship in August at Blueberry Hills in Yarmouth.
Gaffey won't be the only local golfer in the field. Matt Gilardi, a 28-year-old Skyline Country Club member who qualified for last year's Mass. Amateur, also shot a 75 to punch his ticket to Cape Cod while Jeff Bourdon, another Waubeeka member, shot a 77 to earn an alternate spot.
"Playing tournament golf wasn't anything I considered until the last year," Gaffey said. "It sounds strange, but I feel like I have just really started to learn how to play golf. I don't really hit any better, but I have learned how to shoot lower scores."
Gaffey had some help from the family in learning how to plot his way around the course. His sister-in-law is Erika DeSanty, a Drury High School athletic legend, who is an LPGA pro, women's golf coach at Princeton and the former coach at Williams College.
"We talk quite a bit and she is very calming influence for me," said Gaffey, who added that DeSanty, who has led Princeton to two Ivy League championships after building Williams into a Division III power, caddied for him in the 2018 club championship and may be on hand to root him on in Yarmouth.
Having come up short in the Waubeeka club championship a few times helped Gaffey decide to give it a shot at a higher level.
"I found myself out of my comfort zone in some situations and I decided if I was going to have a chance to win a club championship I needed to put myself in tough situations more often," he explained.
In Tuesday's tournament, Gaffey got off to a solid start, especially considering it was his Mass Golf debut, playing the first six holes in 1-over par, the bogey coming on No. 11 (he started on the back nine) when he said he played the difficult hole conservatively to avoid a big number.
Then, for someone trying to get experience in difficult situations, Mother Nature stepped in to make that a reality.
"It started pouring, a biblical kind of rain, and the club slipped out of my hand (on his seventh hole, No. 16) and I made a bogey then followed that with a double bogey," he said. "I had some bad thoughts, but I birdied No. 18 (a par 5) and I knew that the front nine was a lot easier, so that gave me some good thoughts and it also stopped raining."
After a par on his 10th hole, he made a bogey on the next, a trouble-filled, 448-yard, par 4. Turns out that wasn't such a bad thing.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't even play for a par," Gaffey admitted. "It's the hardest hole on the course and I felt more players would bogey the hole, or make worse, so I hit two hybrids (instead of teeing off with a driver) and took my bogey."
Then came the two key holes in his round — a par 3 measuring only 97 yards and a par 4 of just 305 yards. He birdied them both, draining an 18-foot putt on the par 3 and following that up by sinking a downhill 15-footer that he said would have "gone 10 feet past the hole if the cup didn't get in the way."
His strategy on the No. 6 (his 15th hole) sums up how he has learned to score and focus on his task at hand.
"The hole is a dogleg left with a pond on the left," he said. "The guys I was playing with bombed it over the pond, but I don't have that kind of length and I can't get caught up in that. I have to have tunnel vision and just play my game."
Gaffey made what he called a "sloppy bogey" on his 15th hole of the day, but finished with three pars to earn his way into the Public Links field.
Bourdon, who missed qualifying by a shot as a result of a double bogey on his final hole, could still get in as an alternate, but if he doesn't, he will caddie for his friend.
"He may come with me and bring his bag in case a spot opens for an alternate," Gaffey said. "If he doesn't get in, he will carry for me. Our yardages are the same, so his caddying for me would be seamless."
Gilardi, meanwhile, got off to a strong start, firing a 1-under 35 on the front with three birdies and two bogeys, but struggled to a 40 on the back with a stretch of four bogeys in five holes. Nonetheless, the strong start proved to be good enough for Gilardi, who is an experienced tournament player and one of a handful of 20-somethings in Berkshire County becoming bigger factors in local and state-level tournaments over the past few years.
Whenever Williamstown's Taconic Golf Club hosts a Berkshire County Allied Association tournament, you can bet there will be a large field of golfers signing up to play one of the state's premier golf courses.
That will again be the case on Monday when a field of 130 golfers tee it up in the Allied Senior Championship on the par-71 layout.
Although defending champion Ray Underwood, a member at Connecticut's Torrington Country Club, is not in the field, past champions Dick Weigold (2014), Bob Linn (2015) and Bill Yurko (2016, 2017) will play along plenty of other plenty of other talented seniors.
Remarkably, the ageless Weigold captured his title at 72 -— beating his age by four shots at Egremont Country Club -— and last year, at 76, took the Super Senior division title.
Linn, a member at Berkshire Hills Country Club who remains one of the county's best golfers no matter the age, will be in a foursome that includes Taconic member Bill Hadden, one of New England's premier golfers for decades — he is member of the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame and a past Vermont Amateur champion. Taconic's Curt Foehl, who won the 2017 Allied Scotch Championship with his sister, Mace Foehl-Hamphill, to win the 2017 Allied Scotch Championship is also in that group.
Other golfers with the ability to be in the hunt for top honors include Berkshire Hills' Mark Chylinski and Ralph Dastoli, Ed Sennett (Taconic GC), Mike Delgrande (Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort), Reed (The Links at Worthington) and Fred Goerlach (Berkshire Hills CC).
Play will begin with an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start.
A reminder that this year's Berkshire County Junior Golf Program's Monday series will tee off on July 8th at Wahconah Country Club.
The program, open to boys and girls who are members of an Allied Golf Club and between the ages of 11-18, will feature tournaments every Thursday from the opener until the final event on August12 at the Waubeeka Golf Links in Williamstown.
The rest of the schedule includes tournaments at Greenock Country Club on July 15, at Stockbridge Golf Club on July 22, at Worthington Golf Club on July 29 and Egremont Country Club on August 5 before the finale at Waubeeka, which also serves as the Allied Junior Championship.
Golfers will compete in three age groups — 13-and-under, 14-15 and 16-and-over — with registration at the host clubs scheduled for 8 to 8:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at 9. The fee is a bargain at $10 to $15 per player, which covers prizes and lunch. Boys and girls must sign up at their respective home clubs in advance.
If you have any questions, contact John Marlowe at 413-663-7938.
Speaking of junior golf, Kay McMahon's eduKaytion Golf will be holding three Junior Golf 8.5 K-Kamps this summer at Skyline Country Club in Lanesborough.
The sessions, designed for juniors ages 7-14 who are interested in being introduced to the game or taking their skills to the next level, are scheduled for July 8-11, July 22-25 and August 5-8 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.
The sessions will be led by McMahon, a member of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Hall of Fame, and will include teaching basic swing fundamentals, putting and short game techniques, etiquette, and on-course play each day.
To register or more information go to www.edukaytiongolf.com, email email@example.com; or call 518-669-1551. The price is $269 with multiple child and multiple discounts available. Clubs can be provided.
At Berkshire Hills
1. Joe Wilson and Michael Mertes, 204. 2. James Cimini and Josh Shepard, 205. 3. Steve Sykes and Andy Dastoli, 209.
1. Adam and Joshua Trivilino, 210. 2. (tie) Kevin and Mike Slyne, 217; Mike Schopp Jr. and Davis Mullany, 217.
1. James Denault and David Bond, 215. 2. Gavin and Frank Cippollino, 217. 3. (tie) Peter and Greg Stopera, 222; Scott Martin and Paul Vincellette, 222; Don and Sean Richardson, 222; Scott Hunter and Dave Hathaway, 222.
1. Gary Grimaldi and Chris Nachtrieb, 223. 2. Tony Genzbella and Joe Andrews, 226. 3. (tie) Fred Goerlach and Steve Flint, 230; Joseph Barowski and Steve Magargal, 230.
1. Ken Griffin and Peter Baran, 225. 2. Dave Izzo and Michael Mazzeo, 228. 3. Mike Graham and Michael Lamoureaux, 230.
1. Scott Preston and Paul Waite, 228. 2. Mike Breen and Dave Pollo, 234. 3. James Smith and Hiroshi Akimoto, 235.
1. John and Tom Barry, 241. 2. Jim Salvie and Shawn Cusson, 242. 3. Robert Chiaretta and Dave Pulcini, 243.
1. Marc Wilkinson and Zip Carver, 249. 2. Michael Calabrese and Ryan Sullivan, 254. 3. David Ashmore and Tom Lavoy, 256.
Berkshire County Senior Golf Association
at Egremont Country Club
1. Peter Kinne, Wyantenuck CC, 79. 2. Anthony Chulotta, Wyantenuck CC, 85.
1. Scott Rote, Wyantenuck CC, 72. 2. Douglas George, Amherst CC, 75.
Roger Frant, Amherst CC, 85. 2. Sam Lussier, Amherst CC, 86.
Ed McCormick, Wyantenuck CC, 7. 2. Gary Welteroth, Bas Ridge GC, 71.
1. Jim Balfanz, Stockbridge GC, 86. 2. David Emprimo, Wyantenuck CC, 89.
1. Lawrence Bernstein, Amherst CC, 72. 2. David Reilly, Berkshire Hills CC, 72.
1. Ed Kasala, Wahconah CC, 93. 2. Wayne Palmer, Wyantenuck CC 93.
1, Terence Cronin, Stockbridge GC, 66. 2. Joe Bradford, 70.
The Links at Worthington
Sunday, June 23
1. Doug Reed and Jeremy Stachowicz, 72. 2. Jake Antosz and David Antosz, 73.
1. Chuck Baker and Kyle Challet, 59. Billy Spitzer and Wally Fritz III, 60.
1. Ann Pickrell and Chris Eugin, 76. 2.
1. Liz Kay and Ann Pickrell, 61.
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