Finishes at 2-under par 68 at Wyantenuck CC
Great Barrington, MA — With everything surrounding him in a state of chaos, Dave Houghton (Captains GC) was able to find a sense of calm on Thursday as he captured the 2017 Massachusetts Super Senior Amateur Championship at Wyantenuck Country Club.
Houghton, who traveled more than 200 miles from Dennis to Great Barrington, fired a score of 2-under par 68 – which included his first career competitive hole in one – to capture the title by one stroke over Jim Ruschioni (Wachusett GC) and a talented field of competitors who are all 65 years or older
4th Massachusetts Super Senior Amateur Quick Links
“Every year I am getting older just like everyone else, but it’s nice to know that I can still come out here and compete,” said Houghton. “I thank God every day that I am healthy and able to play. It’s very special.”
Houghton’s focus from start to finish would have been admirable on any day, but his performance today was nothing short of exceptional.
After all, Houghton recently sold his home in Brewster and is currently residing on his boat in Dennis. He is also anxiously watching the track of Hurricane Irma as it continues to barrel towards his new home just outside of Jacksonville where his wife is currently staying.
“She went down there to get the house ready and is staying with friends now,” said Houghton, who immediately grabbed his phone after his round to check on his wife and see the updated storm track. “We just sold our house in Brewster, so there are all sorts of changes in our lives. Both of our cars are packed with our goods, and we have all of our stuff in storage. It’s an unsettling time, but it’s our choice so we are doing it.”
What Houghton did today was anything but unsettling as he delivered a winning performance that included a five-hole stretch midway through his round that he played at 5-under par.
“I haven’t been playing that much, so I was just trying to hit the ball solid and to see what happens,” said Houghton, winner of the 2014 Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship and the 2015 New England Senior Amateur Championship. “I wasn’t trying to do anything spectacular and things just happened.”
Houghton began his round on the 10th hole and made five pars and then a bogey on the 355-yard, par 4 15th hole. That one miscue would quickly be a distant memory as he went on to make birdie on the 16th, 17th and 1st holes before carding a hole in one on the 181-yard, par 3 2nd hole.
“You can’t even see the flag because it’s down over the hill,” said Houghton. “It’s my first hole in one in competition and second one overall. The first one I never saw that one go in the hole either, so maybe I ought to play more par 3s where I can’t see the pin.”
Houghton continued his steady play and made six straight pars before making a double bogey on his final hole of the day.
“I was hitting onto the greens and leaving it below the hole,” said Houghton. “The putts looked like they were going to go in but they didn’t. I missed one fairway on the back on number 8. I hit it into the trees left but made par. The only bad shot I had was the tee ball on 9. I just didn’t commit to it.”
Despite finishing his round just shy of noon, Houghton had to wait another seven hours before he could claim the title as his own.
“I’m exhausted, but it was worth it,” said Houghton who said that he managed to sneak in a nap while he waited for the rest of the field to finish and waited out a nearly one-hour weather delay.
With the sun setting in Great Barrington just after 7:00 p.m., Houghton was finally able to savor his latest victory. The first win of the day had come a few hours earlier when Houghton spoke to his wife and got some good news.
“I was able to talk to my wife, and she is going to be coming home,” said Houghton.
SHOOTING HIS AGE FOR SECOND PLACE
In addition to finishing second overall, Jim Ruschioni accomplished another feat on Thursday at Wyantenuck Country Club … he shot his age.
Ruschioni’s score of 1-under par 69 matched his current age and was one of only two under-par scores posted on Thursday. He made the turn at 2-over par and then made four birdies during a five-hole stretch to put him even with Houghton at 2-under par.
After making those birdies on the 11th, 12th, 13th and 15th holes, Ruschioni made two pars before suffering a bogey on his final holee to finish at 1-under par and one back of Houghton.
Today’s performance continues what has been a stellar stretch of golf for the veteran who has collected 13 Massachusetts Golf Association titles over the course of his career.
Just last month, Ruschioni became the oldest club champion in Wachusett Country Club history. He finished off the two-day club event by posting a score of 70 to win the club championship by three strokes.
Over the course of his career, Ruschioni has captured four Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championships, three Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championships, two Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championships, two Massachusetts Father & Son Championships and two Massachusetts Four-Ball Championships. He was also named the George M. Cohen MGA Senior Player of the Year for four straight years beginning in 2003.
He also – along the way – claimed the 1987 New England Amateur Championship and was an 18-time club champion at Oak Hill Country Club.
NEWS & NOTES
Eldest Statesman: In less than four months, Fan Gaudette will be turning 80 years old. He stands as the oldest competitor in this week’s field. James Logue of Salem Country Club is the second oldest competitor in the field. He is 78 years old.
Rookies Again: Carter Fasick and Jon Fasick were the true rookies in the field this year. The twin brothers turned 65 years old in August and stand as the youngest competitors in the field. The Fasick brothers are two of 20 competitors who are 65 years old.
Rain Bump: Since 2015, the Massachusetts Super Senior Amateur Championship has been contested as a 36-hole event. Heavy rain and unplayable conditions on Wednesday, however, forced the cancellation of round 1 and resulted in this year’s championship being played as a one day, 18 hole event.
Next Year: Looking one year ahead, the 2018 Massachusetts Super Senior Amateur Championship will be held at Haverhill Country Club. The dates of that event will be October 2-3, 2018
Past Champs: All three past champions of this event are competing this year in Great Barrington. Those past champions include Peter Brumme (2014), Doug Crawford (2015) and Dick King (2016).
Golden Host: In addition to opening its doors to a handful of qualifying events, this year marks the fourth time in nearly 20 years that Wyantenuck Country Club has hosted a major state or regional event. The club previously hosted the 2004 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship, 2009 New England Senior Amateur Championship and 2011 Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
Home Cooking: Although there were no host club members in this year’s field, there were three competitors who felt that they had a home-club advantage as they play out of nearby Stockbridge Golf Club. Included in that list of competitors who had the shortest ride to Wyantenuck Country Club this week were Jim Finnerty, George Fleischner and Jim Mcmenamy.
Next Up: Many of this week’s competitors will be heading to Connecticut next week to take part in the 2017 New England Senior Amateur Championship, which is being held at Wethersfield Country Club (CT). The 2017 Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship will follow on September 18-19 at Oakley Country Club.