MARBLEHEAD – At the 104th edition of the prestigious Massachusetts Amateur Championship at challenging Tedesco Country Club July 9 – 13, Mike Calef came, he saw and he conquered!
Traveling 1,800 miles from his new home in the Dallas, Texas area, the Brockton-native arrived back in the Bay State to “play golf with a few buddies” around a tee time in the state’s single most prodigious title. Calef found the rolling, sloping Tedesco fairways and lightning-fast greens to his liking. After grinding through 36 holes of stroke play as co-medalist, Calef took less than 100 holes to win five straight matches, including the 36-hole final match against Haverhill Country Club’s Mark Souliotis, (3 & 1) claiming victory as the best amateur golfer.
“This is huge,” said the 33-year old Calef, who was swarmed by family members and friends after receiving the historic Massachusetts Cup. “My real reason for coming back was to see a bunch of old friends and play in one of my most favorite tournaments of the year. I really didn’t see myself making it this far.”
The path to the winner’s circle in the Mass Amateur, conducted by the Massachusetts Golf Association, is paved with the best amateurs the Bay State has to offer. Tedesco Country Club’s greens proved a stern test for the 150 players who qualified, from some 700-plus entries at nine qualifying sites. Leading the way as medalists into the match play portion of top 32, with scores of even par 140, were Colin Brennan (Indian Ridge CC), Dan Falcucci (Cyprian Keyes GC), Jack Whelan (Myopia Hunt Club) and Mike Calef (Brockton CC).
Calef started strong and allowed only one match to reach the 18th hole. He defeated John Hogan (Ferncroft CC) 4 & 2; Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich) 1 up; Josh Salah (Bass Rocks CC) 4 & 3; Jack Whelan (Myopia Hunt Club) 5 & 4 before meeting Souliotis in the finals. Souliotis, seeded No 20 and reigning club champ at Haverhill CC beat back Steven Burak (Thorny Lea GC) 4 & 3: Mike Pochily (Federal Street) 7 & 5: Mark Purrington ((Allendale CC) 2 & 1; and Ben Spitz (George Wright GC) 1 up.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever played more than four rounds in a row before, because my golf is pretty much limited to the weekends,” said Souliotis, an employee of Raytheon, whose son, Michael, caddied for him all week. “I was one up for a good portion of the match but the shot that won the tournament for him (Calef) was the chip shot on No. 16. Anything can happen with only one hole separating, but he got up and own on 16, kudos to him. That was the tournament.”
Walking up the sixth fairway at Tedesco – hole No. 24 in his 36-hole final with Souliotis, Calef was one down. He turned to his father, Phil, and said, “I need to play these next four or five holes in 2 under and then I’ll be in good shape.” Indeed he did, turning the match around when Souliotis missed a five-foot par putt on the 32nd hole to go one up.
“I’ve always geared myself to play in the Mass Amateur even when I moved to Texas,” Calef told reporters in his post-tournament comments. “I would have never thought I would have a trophy at the end of the week. It was fantastic, and much of it was completely unexpected.”
The state’s most prestigious trophy is headed to Texas, since Caleb moved there late last year after his wife, Alicia, took a job transfer. According to a controversial ruling by the Massachusetts Golf Association, Calef was exempt into the Mass Amateur as a non-state resident because he still maintains his handicap at Brockton Country Club, where he was formerly employed as Director of Golf, which also raises questions of his status as a paid golf professional.
Last September Calef won his first MGA championship by winning the Mass Mid-Amateur crown, thus making him an MGA titleholder with two titles with a Texas address. He came from Texas, he saw and he conquered. Now, it’s time for MGA executive director Joseph Sprague and the MGA Board of Directors to require all players maintain a valid Massachusetts address!WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?