Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship hosted by Belmont Country Club
For Immediate Release: August 1, 2017
South Hadley, MA — As the 2017 Championship Proper is being contested at The Orchards Golf Club this week, the MGA officially announced that Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship will undergo a change next season that will take it back to its original roots.
Effective in 2018, the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship will include both stroke and match play. It will be only the second event – joining the Massachusetts Amateur Championship – on the MGA’s competitive schedule that features match play.
“We are excited to introduce these young competitors to a new experience that has deep roots here in the Commonwealth,” said Kevin Eldridge, the MGA’s director of rules & competition. “The mix of stroke and match play is something that will only further enhance what is the third oldest championship on the MGA’s schedule.”
The competitors will take part in two days of stroke play. The field will then be reduced to the low 16 scorers, who will continue on to match play. The rounds of 16 and quarterfinals will take place on the third day with the semifinals and final 18-hole match to be completed on day four.
Eldridge also announced that the four-day Championship Proper – which will be celebrating its 100th year of competition – will be held at Belmont Country Club on August 6-9, 2018.
“Belmont Country Club will be a tremendous test and a perfect venue for our first year of stroke and match play,” said Eldridge. “We have been fortunate to host many of our Championships there over the years, and we could not ask for a better site for what will be the 100th playing of the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship in 2018.”
It seems appropriate that match play will be re-introduced in Belmont, which was the site of one of the most memorial golf matches in United States golf history.
On July 30, 1920, it was estimated that more than 7,000 people – believed at the time to be largest group to ever witness a golf match in the United States – came to Belmont Country Club to watch Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, English Professionals, defeat America’s leading amateur team of Francis Ouimet and James P. Guildford, 4 and 2 in a 36-hole exhibition match.
Over the years, the club has been a host of numerous national, regional and local championships including the 1937 PGA Match Play Championship, six Massachusetts Women’s Open Championships, five Massachusetts Open Championships, four Massachusetts Amateur Championships, two New England Open Championships and most recently the 2015 Constellation Senior Players Championship.
While this marks a change in format, it is not necessarily something new.
In 1914, the MGA launched the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship because the Boston Interscholastic Championship had not been contested in 1913. At the time, the Boston Interscholastic was often referred to as the Boston Schoolboy Tourney and had crowned champions such as Francis Ouimet (in 1909 and 1910).
The MGA continued the tradition in 1914 and crowned its first champion – Raymond Ouimet – in what was a match-play format. That year, Ouimet defeated Edward Hubbard at Oakley Country Club by a score of 5 and 4.
Over the years, the Championship would transition to a full stroke-play competition, one that is currently 54 holes played over three days.
Just last year, the MGA made modifications – following the lead of the USGA – to its age eligibility criteria. Effective in 2017, the maximum age for competitors in the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship was raised from 17 to 18 years old.
The same modification was made for the USGA’s two junior championships in order to bring those championships more in line with the worldwide standards for junior golfers.
“Introducing match play for our Junior Championship will also bring it more in line with the format of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship,” said Eldridge. “All in all, we feel that it’s the perfect format for us to showcase the state’s top junior talent.”
In 1914 when the MGA launched the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship, it was written in the Boston Globe that “the Massachusetts Golf Association decided that the youngsters should have their day”.
In 2018, the MGA will continue that tradition by giving the youngsters of the state another opportunity… to experience the joy of match play.