Whelan, DiLisio, Brennan, Vana Among Those Feted at MGA Awards Dinner

Catching up on lots of golfie stuff today, starting with the four North Shore favorites who were honored at the annual Massachusetts Golf Association awards dinner at Wellesley Country Club January 10.

They saved the (Ipswich native) Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year presentation for last, but I’ll make Colin Brennan of Indian Ridge first. Colin, the Johnson-Wales University golfer was presented the prestigious award, named for the late MGA executive director, by MGA President Paul Burke, the noted surgeon from Vesper.

Colin had one boffo year, winning the Hornblower (shooting 66 the second day, making up a nine-shot overnight deficit) and North Shore Amateur (with a course-record final round 65). was one of four co-medalists (including Myopia’s Jack Whelan, about whom we will make mention shortly), reached the quarterfinal round of match play, placed fifth at the New England Amateur and won the Tarlow Invitational at Thorny Lea. An outstanding season indeed.

In his acceptance speech, he recognized the “hideous looking” Ping mallet putter that was a major part of his success, as well as the supportive (and positively competitive) Indian Ridge membership (which would include attendee Colin Ahern, John Gilmartin and Web.com player Rob Oppenheim), but most importantly his parents, especiaily dad Peter, his favorite caddy.

Salem CC’s Stephen Dilisio for the fourth straight year received a plaque for wining his division at the State Juniors. No player has ever done that, and now the St. John’s Prep freshman has the chance to write more history at this year’s Junior at Essex County Club in Manchester, the only major event slated for the North Shore in 2013. Stephen, who was joined at his family table by two-time former State Junior champion and former Prep teammate Nick McLaughlin, now at the University of Virginia, won the Pre-Junior Division (14-15 age group) and finished third overall in 2012 at Oakley after copping three successive Boys’ divisions. He’ll be a favorite to win the overall crowns the next few summers and add to a record which may never be broken.

“As he said  at the previous three award dinners and on this night, “I hope to be back right here next year with all of you.”

The aforementioned Whelan received his award for capturing the Francis Ouimet Invitational last summer and North Andover resident Frank Vana Jr., now 50, though he doesn’t look even 40, appeared at the podium for the umteenth consecutive year to go along with his more than a dozen prior MGA titles, including two Amateurs, for winning a record eighth Mid-Amateur, this one at Framingham. After two surgeries last off-season, don’t be surprised if Frank wins several titles this year.

Happy 80th birthday to Ed Whalley (January 15) and happy 73rd (January 21) to Jack Nicklaus.

Tough go of it for Andover’s Briana Vega at LPGA Q-School late last year. It was a lousy enough week when she opened with an 82 and never figured into the opportunity to get through the 72-hole test and make it onto the 2013 Tour. But worse, her car was broken into in a hotel parking lot and a large assortment of Christmas presents were stolen. Keep pluggin’, Briana.

Congrats to Essex County Club product Peter Bronson, now the executive director at PGA de Espana in Madrid. Contact Peter at peterhenrybronson.com. Peter has spent the bulk of his golf career helping grow the game in Europe while working at clubs in Poland, Germany and now Spain, where he is Director of Education for the PGA of Spain and continues serving at the First Warsaw Golf and Country Club, where he runs the Peter Bronson Golf Academy.

None of the North Shore’s worthy clubs made the bi-annual Golf Digest  “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” list for 2013/2014. The only Massachusetts layouts to make it were The Country Club at No. 24, Old Sandwich at 68, Boston GC at 74 and Kittansett at 84. For the first time GD listed  “The Second 100 Greatest, and Eastward Ho! in Chatham, where Peabody native Brian Hamilton is approaching his 20th season as head professional, was ranked 174.

In listing the best courses per state, in the Bay State top 20 Essex CC was ranked No. 5, Myopia No. 6, Salem No. 7, Eastward Ho! No. 9 and Turner Hill No. 13. Congrats to you all

Essex, Myopia and Salem did not qualify for being listed in the top 100 or 200 because, as the magazine stated, none of those great tracks received the minimal number of evaluations required (45)  over the past eight years by a magazine course rater.

We have three magnificent Donald Ross courses hereabouts (Salem, Essex, Kernwood), a Herbert Leeds gem in Myopia and an outstanding Hurdzan/Fry modern layout in Turner Hill, one of Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s final routings in Ipswich CC, plus assorted others that golfing visitors always consider a treat to play, imost significantly Tedesco.  I will share my 2013 North Shore course ratings down the road.


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