Patrick Therriault of Attleboro blasts out of a bunker and onto the 12th green during Friday’s AAGA City Open Qualifier at Heather Hill Country Club in Plainville.

PLAINVILLE — There were players on all three courses at Heather Hill Country Club Friday for the 60th annual Attleboro Area Golf Association City Open Qualifier.

There was mingling in front of the official scoreboard and amidst the clubhouse and grounds of owner Connie Poholek’s layout, but with strict CDC, state and local guidelines for social distancing.

Morning rounds on the South-North, Middle-South and North-Middle courses all brought a smile to the face of General Manager Elmo Finocchi, who with the co-operation of the AAGA’s Tournament Committee, completed a herculean task of orchestrating the event in these worrisome pandemic days.

How successful was the event? Among the field, there were 42 individuals who were participating in the qualifying round for the first time.

“It worked out really, really well,” Finocchi said. “It worked out beautiful. Last year, we used the three tees and everything was fine. The AAGA Tournament Committee (headed by Bobby Gay and Bobby Beach) did a great job, they were well organized.”

Finocchi and the AAGA met on numerous occasions to map a “healthy and safety” strategy, forbidding caddies under Mass. Golf Association guidelines and outlawing the customary social gatherings inside of the clubhouse.

“Not once did I think that there would be a hitch, there were no problems at all,” said Finocchi, whose wife Karen is a co-owner of the club. “We checked with the Governor’s guidelines, with the Mass. Golf guidelines, the CDC. Normally that place (clubhouse, bar) would be full in there. It breaks our hearts that there are no spectators, all the family members who would come out, but what are we going to do? It’s crazy times.”

Finocchi had 64 carts available for usage.

“We had plenty left over, but most of the guys walked,” he said of the initial question whether enough mobile vehicles would be available to accommodate the morning and afternoon rounds.

Meanwhile, course superintendent Pete Fontaine, in his second season, groomed the greens to near perfection.

Heather Hills has resumed its regular schedule of golf leagues every day of the week, with two scheduled for late Friday afternoon.

“One league was concerned because they had a lot of elderly players, but we’re doing really well with the leagues,” Finocchi said. “It’s working out well.”

  • Billy Gaskin delivered a 1-over-par round of 72 to lead the list of low scorers during the afternoon round on the North and Middle Course — matching the score of his nephew Jake, the son of brother Shawn Gaskin. Billy had 14 pars on his scorecard with an eagle on the 489-yard, par-5 No. 3 hole on the Middle Course. “That was a real good round, I couldn’t let my 14-year-old nephew beat me,” said Gaskin who hit 14 greens in regulation ...
  • With threesomes taking to the course, the slowest time to play 18 holes was four hours, 10 minutes “and we had plenty of groups in little more than 3


  • hours, everything moved smoothly,” Beach said of the pace of play ...
  • One of the newcomers to make a superb showing was Ryan McIlhinney, who played the Middle-South courses during the morning round at even-par 70 with 12 pars and three birdies — at the No. 2 and 3 holes that he played ...
  • Among the initial field of 138 players, only five did not appear at their designated No. 1 tees, withdrawing from the competition ...
  • Though not on the course, Norton Country Club’s Ned Sweeney was standing strong — having undergone a fifth heart attack in March — and readying to tee off Saturday morning for a round of golf. “I’m a member of the “zipper club” now,” Sweeney said of the surgical scars on his chest from the surgical procedures. “It’s great being out of the house and getting to play some golf,” the long-time AAGA Open participant said. “I played last weekend too, I feel good. All’s well if you’re still standing and not six feet below.” ...

In past years, golfers would submit their applications to compete in the qualifying round with a check for registration. Since the AAGA process has gone “on line” only two players in the field of 138 Friday did so. “Once they figured out that they can use their computers to sign up, that was it and they have proof — nothing’s ever lost in the mail anymore,” AAGA Tournament Committee member

  • Don Langevin said ...
  • All of the qualifiers, along with the field of exempt players from the 2019 AAGA Open, must submit their applications for entry for the 2020 Open as soon as possible. The field will return to the Heather Hill CC on Aug. 20 for the first round of the AAGA Open and then move down the road in Plainville to Wentworth Hills CC for Friday’s second round ...
  • After missing the qualifying round cut for the 2019 Open, the Norton CC’s Scott King, a resident of South Attleboro, was staring at the stark reality once again after having to ink a quadruple bogey on the par-5, 465-yard No. 5 hole on the North course during his frontside of play. “It was a duck hook, dead left,” King said of his miscue, making the turn with a 43 and knowing he had jeopardized his chances. But he finished with an even-par 35 with two birdieson the backside, the Middle Course and made the cut with a 7-over-par score of 78. “I put a lot of pressure on myself every year,” King said, playing the AAGA Open since 1999. “I was hoping that hole wouldn’t come back to haunt me, I thought I was all done. Then I kept it straight and got it close, I was so proud of myself. Being out here with these guys, for all of us, the Open is special.” ...
  • Another individual sweating it out was 2018 Foxboro High grad and current Bryant University junior Rob Theriault, who finished his afternoon round with a 5-over-par 76, despite a quadruple bogey on the No. 6 hole on the Middle Course. “This was my first time qualifying too,” the 20-year old said. “I wanted to make it so bad, that was my goal.” Theriault aided his quest with four birdies, two on the frontside of the North Course at No. 2 and No. 4 and two more on the backside, the Middle Course at No. 14 and No. 17 ...
  • Making the cut for the very first time as well was former Norton High Lancer and Bryant University Bulldog Adam Winiarz. He had nine bogeys on his scorecard before drilling a 3-foot putt for par at No. 18 to make the afternoon cut at 80. “I went out and said to myself whatever happens, happens. I got a little sloppy.” ...
  • Former AHS Bombardier Kyle DelSignore,

a junior at Westfield State, has played in the qualifying round six times and made the cut five times, having an afternoon round of 77. “I missed making the cut for the final two days last year (of the AAGA Open) by one stroke. That’s always my goal, to play four days and to become exempt.”

Peter Gobis may be reached at 508-236-0375

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