Richard Lord | Tee to Green: Links at Worthington ready for close-up at Worthington Cup
It's been 18 months since longtime members David and Helen Pollard purchased the Worthington Golf Club while promising to give the 115-year-old club a much-needed facelift and rebranding it as The Links at Worthington.
So far, they are delivering on their promise both on and off the golf course. There has been new equipment and an infusion of cash for course superintendent Eddie Figiela, and a renovated clubhouse and restaurant (Velvet at Worthington) with renowned chef David Moses.
The changes are all on display this weekend as the club hosts the Worthington Cup, a best-ball tournament that the Pollards hope to develop into a must-play event for Western Massachusetts golfers. The 36-hole event concludes today.
"Last year was our capital expense year, just to get us fully functional and get us up to code and we've done all that," said David Pollard. "Ed was given an increase in his budget and the course shows it. We have new sand in the traps — I don't think we have had new sand ever — and we also purchased new carts."
Word on the upgrades has spread quickly.
"This is the year where our golf product is in full bloom," Pollard said. "I've been around here for 30 years and it's never looked this good. The rough is thick and the greens are fast. The golf product has never been better. Public play has been through the roof compared to the past and the membership is growing."
Figiela has always had the 10-hole course (nine holes plus a different hole for the fifth and 14th) in as good a shape as possible — top amateur and Worthington member Steve Magargal has called Figiela a "magician" — given his previous tight budgets. Located at 1,700 feet above sea level, that isn't always an easy task.
"We are blessed to have Eddie and his family, they are all experts," said Pollard. Figela's wife, Leslie, and daughters, Rachel and Emily, all work on the course.
"David's vision was for the course to have fast greens and deep rough and Ed has done an incredible job in doing that," head professional Francis Kringle said. "We are getting comments from players like, 'wow, what a gem.' This has always been a great course, now it's also in great condition."
While the nine-hole, par-35 course is the top attraction, Helen Pollard has been focused on the renovation of the clubhouse and restaurant. Velvet at Worthington has become a popular dining spot for the small community. It is open for fine dining Tuesday through Sunday from 5-9 p.m. and for lunch on the weekends.
"Chef Dave and his team are killing it," said David Pollard. "He is offering first-rate food. Many people are coming just to eat."
In addition to more public play, The Links is also offering associate memberships for $425 for those who are members at other clubs.
"We are also exploring some other options for others who are further away like Boston," Pollard said. "We are getting some traction. We have an idyllic little place where you can have a nice day when you come to the Berkshires to vacation or visit places like Tanglewood."
The Worthington Cup has been played for about a decade as a fundraiser, but Pollard is looking to build it into a bigger event that attracts some of the region's top players. With the help of member James Ryan, who captured this spring's Stockbridge Trophy with Aidan Brownlie, this weekend's event has attracted a solid field.
"We'd like it to be a boutique version of some of the other tournaments in the area like the Pewter Cup and Little Brown Jug," Pollard said. "It was a little risky having a tournament on the Fourth of July weekend, but we have a nice field with big-boy golfers and we hope to make this into our signature event."
Waubeeka Golf Links hosts a free junior clinic on Sundays, and one of the regular attendees proved that he is a very good learner, earning his way into the national Drive, Chip and Putt contest's subregional stage as a result of his second-place finish in a local qualifier on June 29 at Saratoga National in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Connor Snow, of Adams, was one of three youngsters to advance to the subregional stage of qualifying in the 7-9-year-old age division by finishing second with 96 points. The 8-year-old finished first in both the driving and putting, while Canadian Cole Roberts took the chipping competition and was first overall with 100 points.
The subregional competition will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 14 at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York. The top finishers there will advance to the regional finals at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. in September. The golfers who make it through all three steps earn a ticket to Augusta National for the 2020 finals, to be held on the Sunday before the Masters tees off.
"Connor has been coming to our Sunday clinics for a couple of years," Waubeeka head professional Erik Tiele said. "He's a good athlete and he has a nice swing and he is going to play on our PGA Junior Golf League team."
Way to go, Connor!
I made a triple bogey in last Sunday's Tee to Green. I misspelled the name of Jamie Gaffey, who had qualified for this year's Massachusetts Public Links Championship. My apologies to Jamie.
Allied Senior Championship
at Taconic Golf Club
1. Mark Chylinski, Berkshire Hills CC, 72. 2. Bob Linn, Berkshire Hills CC, 74. 3. Joe Macutkiewicz, 80. 4. (tie) Ralph Dastoli, Berkshire Hills CC, 82; Mike Delgrande, Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort, 82. 6. (tie) Tim Farris, Stockbridge GC, 83; Bill Yurko, Wahconah CC, 83; Bill Hogan, Berkshire Hills CC, 83. 9. (tie) Tom Mooney, CC of Pittsfield, 84; Jim Dunn, Greenock CC, 84; Christopher White, Brae Burn CC, 84; Jay Van Doughnett, Torrington CC, 84.
1. Martin Brayboy, Torrington CC, 70. 2. Curt Foehl, Taconic GC, 71. 3. (tie) Bud Pepin, Torrington CC, 72; Eric Katzman, Wyantenuck CC, 72. 5. (tie) Tom Taylor, Torrington CC, 72; Thomas DeGray, Waubeeka GL, 74; Pete Landry, Waubeeka GL, 74. 8. (tie) Sam Johnson, Wyantenuck CC, 75. 2. Tony Genzabella, Berkshire Hills CC, 75; Jerry Simmons, Berkshire Hills CC, 75.
Super Senior Division
1. Dale Dirk, Torrnington CC, 72. 2. (tie) Fred Goerlach, Berkshire Hills CC, 81; Michael Koperniak, Taconic GC, 81; Doug Reed, The Links at Worthington, 81. 5. John Goodlow, Berkshire Hills CC, 82. 6. (tie) Jim Venditti, Berkshire Hills CC, 83; Keith Dapper, Berkshire Hills CC, 83; Hiroshi Akimoto, Wahconah CC, 83; Jeff Polucci, Taconic GC, 83; Jay Drury, Berkshire Hills CC, 83.
1, (tie) Dick Weigold, Torrington CC, 68; James Smith, Wahconah CC, 68; Craig McClintock, Wahconah CC, 68. 4. James Buslik, Wyantenuck CC, 69. 5. Bill Whitcomb, Greenock CC, 70. 6. (tie) Jeffery Caligari, CC of Pittsfield, 71; Larry Premerlani, Wyantenuck CC, 71. 8. (tie) Joe Tyson, Torrington CC, 72; Joe Boldyga, Greenock CC, 72; Richard Burns, Greenock CC, 72.
Richard Lord can be reached at email@example.com or 413-281-2226.
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