Kyle Vincze did not necessarily plan it that way.
But he was nonetheless pleased beyond words when he played level par golf (69) at Bass Rocks in Gloucester last week under cold, windy and misty weather conditions. In doing so, he captured medalist honors at the first of 12 qualifying rounds for this year’s Massachusetts Amateur championship.
“I’d never played Bass Rocks before,” the 24-year-old Turner Hill member confessed after leading nine qualifiers, including the Belmont CC father-son pairing of Eduardo and Oliver Cordeiro, into the main event, set for The Country Club in Brookline July 15-19. “So I relied on my former teacher at Turner Hill, Todd Scarafoni, now on the Bass Rocks professional staff, to give me some insight in regards to my game plan.
“His advice sure helped. He said keep the driver in the bag and I’ll be fine; he was right. I stuck with my 2-iron (250 yards) and 4-iron to keep the ball in play and it worked. I didn’t use the driver once and I kept the ball in play off the tee most of the way around.”
His short game, usually reliable, was adequate. He hit 14 greens in regulation, made three birdies, including a near-ace on the par-3 eighth, and made three bogeys when he could not get up and down. He was never worse than one-over in relation to par the entire round.
The former Governors Academy and DePaul University golfer topped the large field by three shots. He now looks forward to making match play for the first time in four Massachusetts Amateur appearances.
“I’ve played The Country Club a few times and think the course fits my game pretty well. Scores there come down to putting, and I’m confident,” he said. “I can handle the greens there all right. We’ll find out soon enough.”
Scarafoni said the 5-foot-11, 165-pound Vincze “already possessed a high level of talent when I first saw his swing. We spent time getting him to control the face of the club and to understand directional causes and effects, so that he’d have greater ability to self-correct when needed on the course.
“Kyle has all the horsepower needed to bring a course to its knees,” added Scarafoni, “but he became a complete player when he realized taking the conservative approach sometimes pays off best.”
A North Reading resident soon moving to Wakefield, Vincze endured a year-long recovery after undergoing triple labrum shoulder surgery as a high school senior five years ago. “Rehab took a full year, but I got through it fine and after that my game has improved each year since,” he said.
He doesn’t like to reveal that the shoulder problem was caused by horseplay wrestling in a dorm at Governors with Duncan Robinson, who now plays for the Miami Heat.
He is proud he bounced back strong at Bass Rocks after finishing bogey--double bogey at his home course, resulting in a disappointing 78 and just missing qualifying for the Massachusetts Open.
Vincze admits he has not yet made any major headlines as a high school, college, or competitive amateur golfer, but he’s optimistic he’ll break through one of these seasons.
His parents, Chris and Janet, got him started in golf when he was eight. They had memberships at Ferncroft and Thomson before landing at Turner Hill.
“They didn’t start playing until they were in their 40s,” Kyle pointed out. “They’ve given me every chance to grow as a golfer and person.”
Vincze is also grateful for the work flexibility his boss, James Bosworth, a former player for Seton Hall and CEO of startup The Spyglass Collective, has given him so that he can compete selectively. In fact, they teamed up last year in trying to qualify for the USGA Fourball but got rained out during their qualifying round, and business priorities prevented them from continuing.
Salem-born Rob Oppenheim qualified for the US Open coming up next week at Pebble Beach after he shot 72-71-143, two over, at Century CC and Old Oaks outside New York City. He defeated Kelly Kraft in a sudden-death playoff for the fourth and final spot.
Oppenheim finished 70-70 on the weekend to score 276, eight under, and place T-33 at the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh on the Web.com Tour. He is 45th in money. He needs to finish top 25 to regain his PGA Tour card.
Kernwood’s Christian Emmerich, bound for Holy Cross in September, pulled off the unique amateur double play the last few weeks, qualifying for both the Massachusetts Open at Vesper and the Massachusetts Amateur, set for The Country Club in Brookline, by shooting 73 at Franklin. Mighty fine playing for the recent St. Mary’s of Lynn grad.
Rough go for our locals at the New England Open at The Quechee Club, with the exception of former St. John’s Prep and Boston College ace Nick Pandelena, who finished second with 135, five under, and earned $3,500. Three-time defending Mass. Open champ Jason Thresher won with 133. Steven DiLisio of Swampscott, via St. John’s Prep and Duke, shot 145, while Gloucester’s Steve Salah had a 147 and Salem’s Kirk Hanefeld 150.
Hillview’s Chris Carter finished second with a 74 and Beverly’s David Dionne shot 75 at the NEPGA Massachusetts chapter tourney at Foxborough CC. Thomson’s Chris Young was 77 ... Hanefeld shot 72 and tied for seventh at the NEPGA Pro-Member at Haverhill.
Catching up belatedly with the news that Danvers gold medal-winning hockey immortal Meghan Duggan continues to receive congratulations for her hole-in-one recorded two years ago at Newton Commonwealth on the 150-yard ninth hole, especially after Golf Digest ran a two-page spread on the achievement and on her and her teammates’ growing love for the game in the October, 2018 issue (pages 40 and 41).
Belated congrats as well to former Salem CC head golf pro (1981-87) Billy Ziobro on being inducted into the New Jersey State Golf Association 2019 Hall of Fame class. Now retired in Florida, Ziobro won the New Jersey Amateur and Open, at age 21, in 1970, and was the first player tom win the New Jersey Junior, Amateur and Open championships.
In succeeding the legendary Bill Barclay as Salem head pro, Ziobro was an outstanding teacher, merchandiser and mentor to several Salem CC assistants he hired who became future head professionals, most significantly eventual New England PGA Hall of Famers Hanefeld (who succeeded him as Salem’s head pro) and Steve Napoli.
Zac Blair, PGA Tour pro and self-proclaimed golf architecture geek, was asked by Links magazine what’s the No. 1 course on his Bucket List. His response: Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton.
“Although there are a handful of courses that immediately come to mind,” he said, “including Augusta, Sand Hills and Crystal Downs, the course I’ve had my eye on for quite some time is Myopia Hunt outside Boston. This course remains virtually untouched over the last 100-plus years since Herbert Leeds built it in 1894 and tips out at just over 6,500 yards. From the pictures I’ve seen and what I’ve heard about the course, it seems right up my alley.”
Reading The Greens is a weekly golf on North Shore golf by Gary Larrabee, a former Salem News sportswriter from 1971-1995. He has covered golf locally and beyond for the last 50 years.