A New Englander's Take on Golf
August 4, 2021
Jim McCabe | August 4, 2021

We forward these numbers not to suggest they guarantee anything. Golf is, after all, a most fickle sport. But the following numbers do supply a good sense for the sort of roll Michael Thorbjornsen has been on in recent weeks and why he deserves a round of applause.

Digest these:

Thorbjornsen is 76-under par for 269 holes, which computes to approximately 4.75 under par for each of his last 16 rounds, and with 100 birdies (and 1 eagle) over that stretch, he’s making a birdie every 2.6 holes.

Given the sea of red in which these numbers are swimming, it’s no surprise that the Wellesley golfer has raised a pair of trophies in the last three weeks: On Saturday, July 17, Thorbjornsen recorded a dominating victory in the championship of the Massachusetts Amateur at Brae Burn CC, then on Saturday, July 31 he breezed to the title at the prestigious Western Amateur outside of Chicago.

In six stroke-play rounds – two at the Mass. Am (73-64) where he finished second in qualifying; four at the Western Am (68-62-70-67) where he was medalist – Thorbjornsen was immense.

(Assuming, of course, that you accept that a 67.33 scoring average is immense.)

Thorbjornsen was 7-under at Brae Burn, 13-under at the Glen View Club and he combined for 1 eagle, 32 birdies, 10 bogeys, and two doubles in those six stroke-play rounds.

Each tournament morphed into the mysterious ways of match play, but being on the roll he’s on, Thorbjornsen’s rhythm has stayed in tune. He played five matches at the Mass. Am (including a scheduled 36-hole finale) and four more at the Western Am and the data reads like this:

In a total of 161 holes, Thorbjornsen led for 130, trailed for just 6, and he lost only 16 holes, or 1.6 holes for the 10 rounds of match play in which he competed.

In five of his nine matches, Thorbjornsen never trailed and only two of those games reached the 18th hole.

Clearly, Thorbjornsen is peaking at the perfect time, given that the U.S. Amateur gets under way next Monday at vaunted Oakmont outside of Pittsburgh. And if you’re wondering if the 19-year-old Thorbjornsen can handle the nerves of that championship, take note that a year ago he made it to the quarterfinals before being ousted.

So, yeah, the sophomore-to-be at Stanford seems to be hitting his stride at just the right time. Heck, his biggest fear might be tendinitis in his shoulder if he keeps lifting championship hardware.

Ah, kids today.

Admittedly, that’s an opening many folks seize upon to launch into a soliloquy about what’s wrong with the world today and perhaps offer a story about some kids to support their case.

This is not one of those stories. Mostly because golf is my passion and traveling in circles that orbit the game has afforded me countless opportunities to meet young people with significant character. So many of them also have a substantial concern for the future of golf and for instance, there’s Kris Hart.

He was a kid once, growing up in Longmeadow, matriculating at Bryant College, always loving golf. He was still just a kid when he came up with the idea of something called the College Golf Pass, which inspired him to dream bigger.

Sure enough, NextGenGolf came along and suffice to say, our game is healthier, and more inclusive, because of Hart and his vision.

Drew (left) and Jason Temel.

Where Jason and Drew Temel will take their vision remains to be seen, but what is already clear is this: These brothers from Newton love golf and already feel a need to give back – and they're still just teenagers.

“Golf will always be a part of our lives,” said Jason, who just completed his freshman year at Northwestern. “Golf is important to us.”

Introduced to the game as caddies at Charles River CC, their passion for golf goes far beyond the personal level (Jason plays competitively and was part of the Northwestern team in 2020-21; Drew will be a freshman at Duke later this month and hopes to play club golf). It extends to a desire to see that those less fortunate have an opportunity to share in the game.

“Clubs For Kids” is the project they introduced in 2017 and never did Jason and Drew expect the staggering enthusiasm that their initiative ignited. “Honestly, it began in our garage one day when our dad looked at all the clubs we had and suggested we find somewhere to put them,” said Drew.

The boys didn’t want to sell them. Nor did they just want to give them away haphazardly. “We looked around and wanted to distribute them to places that would use them,” said Jason. “Our charity was born out of that.”

There is a website – clubsforkids.org – and Alex Tamel, a lawyer, helped his sons form their 501(c).

Given that the brothers both attended the Noble & Greenough School “where we’re encouraged to get involved in community service,” said Jason, they tackled the “Clubs For Kids” endeavor with diligence.

They set up tables at Charles River CC and The Country Club and soon had more clubs than they’d imagined. Through the New England PGA junior tournament director at the time, Jacy Settles, Jason and Drew were told of a program that would benefit the Ghana Golf Association in that country on the west coast of Africa.

Different, for sure, but the boys put together a generous supply of clubs that were shipped to that country. There were more clubs, plus golf bags, in their possession, so Jason went to the First Tee program at D.W. Field in Brockton and donated there, too.

“Our dad had gotten us into the game and both he and our mother (Jennifer, a doctor at Mass. General Hospital) encouraged us to go after something we feel strongly about,” said Drew.

They were 16 (Jason) and 15 (Drew) at the time they launched their charity work and more than 725 donated clubs later, their desire to help is still there. The thing is the pandemic turned most of the world upside down and the supply of clubs has dwindled.

“COVID slowed things a lot,” said Jason, who has no doubt that he and his brother could replenish the supply. “But the biggest obstacle is finding where to donate the clubs. We’ll have to explore that.”

Given their passion and their commitment, you know that their investments will enrich the game. Kids being kids.


I have a passion for playing golf that is surpassed only by my passion for writing about people who have a passion for playing golf, for working in golf, for living their lives around golf. Chasing the best professional golfers around the world for The Boston Globe and Golfweek Magazine for more than 20 years was a blessing for which I’ll be eternally grateful. I’ve been left with precious memories of golf at its very best, but here is a takeaway that rates even more valuable – the game belongs to everyone who loves it. “Power Fades” will be a weekly tribute with that in mind, a digital production to celebrate a game that many of us love. If you share a passion for golf, sign up down below for a free subscription and join the ride. And should you have suggestions, thoughts, critiques, or general comments, feel free to pass them along.

Cheers, Jim McCabe


Jim McCabe | August 4, 2021

Mass. Junior field down to 16

After two days of stroke play at Indian Pond CC in Kingston, the Massachusetts Junior Amateur field was whittled to 16 competitors for match play, which will get under way Wednesday.

Joseph Lenane, who plays out of the Kohr Golf Center in Natick, shot 69-71 – 140 to share medalist honors with Weston Jones (73-67) of Charter Oak CC. A pair of golfers out of Kernwood CC – Aidan Emmerich (68-73) and Sean Dully (70-74) finished third and fifth, respectively. Colin Spencer of Cummaquid (72-71) was fourth.

Those five golfers, plus 11 others – including Nolan Skaggs of Plymouth CC, who survived a five-for-one playoff for the 16th spot – will start the Round of 32 at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Lenane will take on Skaggs in the leadoff game.

In the Pre-Junior Division, Ryan Downes of GreatHorse is at 75-70 –145, leading by four over Chad Tordone (77-72) and by five over Zach Pelzar (74-76) of Weston Golf Club.


Right back at it – Curtin, Lee march on

Some substantial resiliency was on display when Sue Curtin of Westwood and Danielle Lee of Concord got through a U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur qualifier at Marshfield Country Club. Each competitor was coming off an emotional high at last week’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open where they missed the cut, Curtin at 162, Lee at 163.

But each woman rebounded nicely at Marshfield to earn their way into a second USGA championship this summer. Tracy Welch led the parade of five qualifiers with a sparkling 3-under 70, followed by Curtin (76) and Lee (79). Anna Morales of Peru (80) and Kristen Henderson of Auburn (81) earned the other two berths.

The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur will be held Sept. 10-15 in Alabama. For Welch, it will be her 21st USGA Championship.


Making their way into U.S. Senior Am

Marshfield CC was also the site of a men’s U.S. Senior Amateur qualifier, and the four spots went to Daniel Harding of Wellesley (72), Keith Smith of Franklin (72), Darrin Eddy of the host club (73) and Frank Vana, Jr. (73). Eddy and Vana got through a three-for-two playoff that left Joe Walker Jr. as the first alternate.

Another qualifier for the U.S. Senior Amateur was held at Manchester CC in Vermont, where Mike McKenna of Danvers and Danny Arvanitis of Manchester, N.H, both shot 72 to share medalist honors. Jack Kearney shot 74 and will be first alternate.

The U.S. Senior Amateur will be held Aug. 28 to Sept. 2 at the Country Club of Detroit.


US Women’s Am competitors

One of the three players who got through qualifying at Boston Golf Club in Hingham – Bridget Ma, a high school junior from Florida – fared well in the U.S. Women’s Amateur. She shot 70-76 to finish T-29 and breeze into the match play portion at Westchester CC in Rye, N.Y. Things did not go as well for the other qualifiers out of BGC, Hanako Kawasaki (77-78), a senior at BU, and Tracy Lee (80-74), a senior at the University of Wisconsin. They both missed the cut. So, too, did 16-year-old Molly Smith (77-76) of Westford.


Whitney leads qualifying field

Former NHLer Ryan Whitney shook off a bumpy end to his front nine Monday to shoot 1-under 35 on the inward holes and earn medalist honors in a Mass Golf Mid-Amateur qualifier at The Ridge Club in Sandwich. Whitney birdied both par 3s on the second nine, the 189-yard 11th and 178-yard 14th and finished at 1-over 72. Four players were next, at 74 – Brian Bassett of Oyster Harbors, Jason Clary of Thorny Lea, Peter Hartmann at Blue Hill CC, and Rugo Santini of Oakley. The State Mid-Am will be Sept. 9-11 at Weston GC.


His summer fun continues

Chris Francoeur had played nicely most of the summer, but he took it to another level when he shot 67-69 at Charles River CC, then closed it out with a 71 at Woodland Golf Club to successfully defend his title in the Ouimet Memorial Tournament. At 4-under 207, the young man from Amesbury finished two ahead of Kevin Gately (70-70-69) of The Harmon Golf & Fitness Club and Dillon Brown (68-69-72) of the Country Club of Halifax.

Earlier this summer, Francoeur had finished T-8 at the Massachusetts Open, lost in the semifinals of the Massachusetts Amateur, competed in the Northeastern Amateur, and finished as second alternate in a qualifier for the U.S. Amateur. All solid efforts, but what he did at the 54th Ouimet Memorial was totally satisfying.

In the women’s division, 16-year-old Molly Smith rebounded emphatically from an opening 77 to shoot 68-71 and finished at 216 to win by 10. And in the Lowery Division for senior men, Steve Tasho earned the title on the strength of 72-72-76 to win by five.


Challenge Cup’s Wampanoag Classic

The Wampanoag Classic at the heralded Donald Ross course in West Hartford, Conn., is an annual highlight to the Challenge Cup schedule. It was held last week, and the competition produced some impressive winners.

Emily Nash of Lunenberg (79-82) won the women’s collegiate division, holding off Margo Osterman of Scituate (84-81) by four. In the girls’ division, Victoria Veator of Bridgewater shot 78-77 to defeat Grace Farland of Sturbridge (78-79) by two.

In the men’s collegiate division, Nick Cummings of Weston (67-65) finished at 132, with Liam Gill of Wayland (68-70 – 138) second. Meanwhile, Christopher Pieper of Woodbury, Conn., finished at 7-under (69-68) and win by six over Matt Williams of Hingham (72-71).


Crawford closes deal on NH Open

Christopher Crawford of Bensalem, Penn., shot 68-66-72 – 206 to win the New Hampshire Open at Manchester Country Club. Shawn Warren finished one shot back at 68-70-69, while a three-way tie at 208 involved Mark Brown, John Felitto and Matthew Campbell.


1 – Somewhat out of synch, no?

Ashun Wu, Ryan Fox, Gavin Kyle Green, and Fabrizio Zanotti have each played in two Olympic golf tournaments. Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Ian Poulter, and Louis Oosthuizen have played in none. Wonder if IOC administrators envisioned that sort of picture when they approved golf’s entry.

2 – Let Lefty take over

Any chance Phil Mickelson has a blueprint for an Olympics Task Force?

3 – Umbrellas took a beating

Could we not give July a mulligan?

4 – Veritable United Nations

Coolest part of that playoff for Olympic bronze: Seven players, seven different flags.

5 – Two by two a bad idea

You’re wishing they sent all seven players out in the same group? Heck, I’m still bewildered as to why R&A officials sent out four players in a pair of twosomes for the 2002 Open Championship playoff.

6 – Simply proper procedure

All golf courses should give names to their holes.

7 – While we’re young

When you lag to within a few feet and ask if you should move your marker, the correct answer is: No, you should finish putting.

8 – It works at Muirfield

Put me down as being hugely in favor of crossing bunkers that are well short of greens.

9 – Sillier than silly

Just wondering: Where were Rory Sabbatini and C.T. Pan situated in these weekly power rankings that are inane?

Brody may be in the driver's seat, but Teagan (left) is on top of things, too.

As if they don’t get enough of Wellesley Country Club when they’re on duty with superintendent Bill Sansone, Brody and Teagan are precocious dogs quite content on their down time to watch people try and play this confounding game – from prime seats, of course.

Sansone got the brother (Brody) and sister (Teagan) as pups five years ago. They are half Rhodesian Ridgeback, half Weimaraner and consistent with their breed, Brody and Teagan are loyal, athletic, intelligent, and aloof to much commotion. Hey, they don’t even pay heed to the bad shots they see.

Have a great photo of your golf course dog? We’d love to include it in “Power Fades.” Email jim@powerfades.com


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