NORTON – It is not often a winner has the luxury of scoring an 82 and winning by two shots, but that was the case with Drew Spindler’s victory in the first event of 24 scheduled this season in the New England Amateur Series, held April 18 at posh and ultra-chic par-72, 6,442-yard Tournament Players Club.
From a field of 70 opening-day players, Spindler, a 39-year old physician’s assistant at UMASS Medical Center, was the only player to shoot a net score of 1-over, 73, in wind and chilly temperatures. In fact, the course that hosts the PGA TOUR’s Deutsche Bank Championship every Labor Day weekend, played so difficult that the average gross score was 96, and net score 86. Bob Drury posted a net-75 to finish second, and four players checked in with 77s including Joe Monger, Raymond O’Neill, Ken Kalil and Roger Gamache.
“I joined the New England Series because I enjoy playing competitive golf and because of the variety of great courses that are on the schedule this season,” explained Spindler, who maintains a 9 handicap at Cyprian Keyes. “It’s worth $150 to me to play a course like TPC – where the pros play, to meet and play with golfers of my ability and to work on my game.”
Now entering its second season, the New England Series hopes to sign up 200 players and provide amateurs an opportunity to play a series of organized golf events at some of the finest private clubs in New England. With over 35-years of tournament experience, New England PGA executive director Mike Higgins and his staff, are meeting a need that allows players with handicaps ranging from 4 – 24 to compete in Gross, Net and Stableford divisions.
“This is a win-win situation for the host club and for our members,” said Higgins, while meeting-and-greeting players signing their cards in the TPC clubhouse. “The club hosting the event generates revenue on a typically slow Monday and our players get to tee it up on a private golf course, that many may never have had a chance to play.”
With the season scheduled through October 20 at Nashawtuc Country Club, among the list of popular venues are The Kittansett Club, Turner Hill, The Bay Club, Metacomet, Pleasant Valley and Belmont CC.
The threesome of Marc Fortin (Manchester CC), Fred Mather (Harmon Club) and Ed Joyce (Green Meadow CC) each amiably shared several reasons for shooting well above par, and their respective handicaps, but still enjoyed the day, and all pledged to return for at least 10 or 12 future tournaments.
“I’ve played in BAGS, The Tour and other traveling golf leagues and this is run the best,” explained Fortin, a 2 handicap, who knocked it around in 92, blaming the wind and early season rust for high scores. “I play over 120 rounds and enjoy the competition, camaraderie and the exclusive selection of private courses. This is my second season and I hope we get 70-player fields every week like today.”
Ed Joyce, 54, a self-employed office furniture salesman holding a 7 handicap, cranked out a 90, and had nothing but good things to say about the course, the league and why he joined. “I like the fact that you can bring guests and plan to bring a few of my favorite customers to future events. This (NES) is a good group of players with many things in common, but most of us aren’t eligible to play in MGA events, because they require low handicaps to qualify. Winning isn’t everything here, and playing on nice courses like TPC is a treat.”
Fred Mather, 42, affiliated with Old Scotland Links with a 6 handicap, likes to play in stroke-play tournaments and feels the best way to improve is play more competitive gross-score events. He shot 88 and budgets about $15,000 a year to golf, that includes equipment, lessons, memberships and trips. Last year he was successful in lowering his handicap from 8.5 to 5.4 and works regularly with a teaching pro from the Harmon Club. “I’ve found that you play better when you play with better players. And, you don’t improve unless you make better use of that 6 inch space between your ears. Everything about this organization is run first-class because we played in threesomes to speed up play and the best courses all within a two-hour ride.”
For more information about the New England Series call the New England PGA at 508-869-0000 or sign up online at: www.newenglandseries.com
(Tom Gorman, a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, International Network of Golf and Golf Travel Writers of America, is a Boston-based freelance golf writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)