Catching up after a Long Respite; Looking Ahead to 2014; USGA Calling?

Catching up in all directions today after being sidetracked with a melanoma issue the last few months that won’t go away, but which can hopefully be controlled, thanks to the amazing caregivers at Massachusetts General Hospital.

We start, as I am prone to do, with golf news, and some special dates we can look forward to, especially here on Boston’s North Shore, in 2014.

Ferncroft Country Club and Turner Hill will host the Massachusetts Fourball Championship May 12 and 13, and many of those same top-flight players will return to the area July 14-18 for the Massachusetts Amateur Championship at Kernwood CC, a highlight of the Salem club’s centennial year. The following week more great action takes place with the New England Amateur slated for Winchester CC July 22-24.

The biggest golf story of all in 2014 in these parts, hopefully, will be an announcement from the United States Golf Association that it is returning to Salem Country Club for the 2017 Senior Open. That would mean millions to the local economy and bring the world’s greatest golfers 50 years of age and older back to the scene of one of the most exciting Senior Opens ever in 2001, when Bruce Fleischer held off Jack Nicklaus, Isao Aoki, Jim Colbert and Gil Morgan to win the coveted Francis Ouimet Trophy. Stand by for word from Far Hills, N.J.

It’s been a good end of year for Andover’s Evan Harmeling. He is all over the cover of the winter 2013-2014 issue of MassGolfer, the publication of the Massachusetts Golf Association. The theme of the issue is “Giving Back,” and no one was a better example of that than the 24-year-old Harmeling, who, after winning the 2013 Massachusetts Open at Woodland donated his entire $15,000 winner’s purse to The One Fund, the charity organized to support the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Then we got word that Harmeling had won the first event, worth $5000, of the reborn Space Coast Tour  at the Reunion Resort in Florida. So more good things are coming Harmeling’s way and that makes us all happy. Evan is a wonderful face for Massachusetts golf wherever he plays.

Belated congrats to Larry O’Neill and his newly-crowned Division 1 state champion St. John’s Prep golf team, as well as to Salem News Player of the Year Steven DiLisio, who was medalist at sectional qualifying with a 69 and led the Eagles at the state final at Black Swan in Georgetown with a 72.

That goes double to Masconomet’s George May, who succeeded his brother as Division 2 state individual champion after shooting a 73 at Blackstone National.

It’s been a sad time around these parts as well with the passing of some special people, starting with Joyce Swedberg, wife of Beverly Golf and Tennis Club’s Steve Swedberg, who played in the 2001 U.S. Senior Open at Salem, Walter Mitty-style. Add to this list Stephen Connolly III, Joyce Cunney, Caleb Loring, Jr. and Paul Marquis.

Great pieces in the recent Golf magazine on Greg Norman and Ben Crane, whose aunt is a member of the Salem School Committee, but then the publication stumbled with its “Most Beautiful Women in Golf” pictorial…Then, how could Golf Digest put Kate Upton on the cover with Arnold Palmer and then run a big piece on Arnie, looking haggard and older than his octogenarian age, giving her golf tips. Awful.

Great line by Mike Purkey on the magnificent Global Golf Post website regards men who wear beards are people who need to cover their faces. He deplores professional golfers who sport beards. I agree. I have always felt that men who wear beards are hiding something…Same old Tiger at his big tournament in Thousand Oaks, California: Playing partner Zach Johnson holes out on the 72nd hole for a par-four and Tiger can’t even acknowledge it except with a painful look on his face in which he can’t even offer a grin, never mind a salute. This guy will never get it.

A few more observations: David Ortiz and the Red Sox made my first month battling malignant melanoma on my lung bearable. They were amazing and more amazing and more amazing; a phenomenal sports story we should never forget around here…Josh McDaniels should not be the Patriots’ offensive coordinator. Tom Brady is still extraordinary, but restricted by McDaniels’ cockamamie play-calling, especially in the red zone…Boomer Esiason must replace Phil Simms as CBS’s lead NFL game analyst..How in Clark Gable’s name can Ben Stiller continue to show up in lead roles in Hollywood-produced movies…Dick Vitale has grown so stale he should have retired from the college basketball analyst’s chair 10 years ago.

Honored to be part of the resurrected Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame Selection Committee, chaired by Massachusetts Golf Association vice-president Tom Bagley of Worcester. We got off to a terrific start with our first meeting last week at Wellesley CC. Nominations will be discussed at Meeting 2 in February at Golf House in Norton. Got any names to send my way? Please do so.

Also honored to have been part of the annual Presidents’ Dinner at Salem Country Club last week. Outgoing president Hank Ramini was saluted, as was long-time secretary Tom Standring, who is stepping down and handing the duties over to Bob Luscinski. Tom and yours truly received personalized rocking chairs, Tom for obvious reasons, me for having the good fortune of covering everything Salem CC golf over the last 40 years, with hopefully many years to come. Thanks to new president Ron Pascucci and his Board.

Lastly, congrats to Jack King, who takes over for the outgoing Scott Sagan as president of Kernwood for its 100th birthday year in 2014.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2014 to everyone.



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