ATTLEBORO — Marc Forbes is like a lot of other amateur golfers in the area — he missed out on qualifying for the Attleboro Area Golf Association’s Open in his first attempt as well.
“I remember the first time that I tried to play in this back in 1967 and I was a junior in high school (Attleboro),” Forbes recalled. “It was one day at Locust Valley. I shot an 85 and didn’t make the cut.”
Since then, Forbes has played a lot of rounds of golf, not just in the Attleboro Open, but all over New England, the Eastern seaboard and abroad.
Of all of the pedigree golfers who have played in the Attleboro Open through its half-century of history, there has been no one who has accomplished what the Attleboro High grad and Brandeis University product has on the links.
Forbes has won the City Open 16 times in the tournament’s 58- year history. When the 59th annual AAGA championship series begins on Thursday, Forbes will be teeing it up at Foxborough Country Club in what will be his 50th, and final, AAGA City Open.
“I went back through all of my records and discovered that this will be my 50th year, so I said, ‘I’m going to do it,” said Forbes, a member at Wannamoisett CC in East Providence, R.I.
“I have nothing to lose. Plus, it’s always fun to do it,” Forbes added. “I had stopped playing because, really, the four days of playing is a lot for me (physically) right now. I get tired and sore. I kind of stopped playing, then I started thinking, ‘Why not?’ ”
“I wanted to play one more time and say I played in it 50 years/”
Forbes won his first AAGA City Open in 1972 and No. 16 in 2003.
Forbes has won three consecutive City Opens three times, coming in 1979-80-81; 1984-85-86; and 1988-89-90.
Forbes is not a frequenter of the links these days, with his schedule being reduced to “maybe,” one round a week.
“I’ll sneak out and hit balls,” he said. “I love practicing and hitting balls. I play in a few tournaments here and there.”
Forbes recently returned from the famed Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey, with roots dating back to 1895 and the home of seven U.S. Open Championships with three-time AAGA Open champion Billy Vine. The tandem played there in a member-guest tournament two years ago and returned this year to engage in the 54 holes of competition — 36 on one day — and finished seventh.
“They added a senior division, which is the only reason why,” Forbes chuckled. “That was a grind, but it got me to thinking about the Open and playing one more time. I might play every day for three weeks in a row, then I won’t play for two weeks.”
Forbes also played in the Mass. Golf Association Four-Ball Tournament with Vine and finished 14th.
“I know that we didn’t win it,” he said.
Forbes will play in a member-guest tournament every so often. “I’m a slow learner, but I finally realized that I’m going to play golf for fun. Whatever happens, happens If I play great, fine. If I don’t, I don’t — that’s okay too.
“I’m actually playing pretty good right now. For whatever reason, I think it’s the attitude right now. I’m not as focused as ‘I’ve got to win, I’ve got to win’ — which is the way I always used to play. Now, I’m going to enjoy the process and whatever happens out there on the golf course, happens.”
“I’ve played times when I finished second and was really pissed off at myself,” he admitted. “Then, like now, if I finish four days and I’ve had fun. That’s enough for me.”
When Forbes won his first AAGA City Open, it was a three-day, 54-hole event.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he said, recalling the first day at Locust Valley (Golf Course in Attleoro),
“I got a ride down there with Bobby (Beach, the current AAGA co-president),” he said. “I walked off the 18th green, having shot an 81. I was just inside the cut line. “I was so mad about it. Bobby said, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ but I told Bobby I’m going to win this tournament.”
“I was losing by 12 shots, then I went out and had two great rounds (at Norton CC and at Heather Hill CC).”
Forbes will be accompanied to the No. 1 tee at Foxborough CC Thursday morning at 8:30 with 2006 AAGA Open champion Bert Bouley and Beach in his threesome.
Forbes’ initial City Open consisted of a field with some 80-90 players, with the field reduced after a first-day cut. The field is similar this year, but the competition is more stringent. The top 40 players receive exemptions for the following year, while there are annually over 100 players competing in the City Open qualifying round for one of the 50 or so spots.
The threesomes and foursomes that Forbes has been engaged in throughout the three and four days of the City Open render more rewards than championships and top-10 finishes, exactly what the tourney’s founding fathers — Harvey Barton, George Fredette and Mal Wendell — wanted.
While at Brandeis University (a 1973 graduate), Forbes played basketball for legendary Boston Celtic K.C. Jones and played golf for another legendary Boston Celtic, Bob Brannum.
More than the free throws, the birdies and bogeys, Forbes learned the value of sportsmanship. That being just as good a loser as a winner, to comprehend and put into life practice, a moral fiber, a foundation for fair play in business and sports.
“I was playing basketball before I played golf and that got the competitive juices flowing,” Forbes recalled of his links journeys. “Once I got into golf and hanging around with Doug Johnson and Bruce Barton, I couldn’t help but be competitive.
“By nature, I don’t like to lose. I like to exceed expectations,” he said. “Along the way, I got a sense of what playing golf is about. It’s about taking the attributes that golf gives you and using them in a different way.
“As a young person, I did have aspirations of becoming a professional. I had the opportunity to play with high-level players and at that point, I determined that it was not something that I could pursue — I wasn’t good enough.
“More often now, I look at it and think of a friend that I used to play with and there’s less of them (a Buck Renner, a Norm Lajoie, a Norm Fontaine). Those are becoming fewer and fewer. I now get to play not only with their sons, but their grandsons.”
Which is sort of what Forbes does now with his son-in-law Liam Timmons and grandchildren Mackenna and Emma — both of whom are enrolled at the Ledgemont Country Club youth program.
“The relationships on and off the golf course — golf has really shaped me as a person,” Forbes said. “It really has. It teaches you composure, control — good stuff that you take away, because you’re constantly facing defeat!
“It’ll be interesting to play in the Attleboro Open, it’s always fun and I’ll be playing with three generations of people that I played with 50 years ago.”
59th Attleboro Area Golf Association Open
First round Pairings and Tee Times
Thursday at Foxborough CC
7: 00 a.m. -- Ryan Dow, Tim Willwerth.
7:10 -- Adam Lareau, Anthony Manganaro.
7:20 -- Jared Winiarz, Geoff Burgess, Kyle DelSignore.
7:30 -- Mike Finocchi, Steve Finocchi, Mike Douilette.
7:40 -- Neal Boyer, Derek Johnson, Derek Barber.
7:50 -- Kevin Willwerth, Dave Turgeon, Jason Hindman.
8:00 -- Ethan Johnson, Tim Murphy, Brenden Raymond.
8:10 -- Peter Mulkerrins, Jay Merry, Paul Kearns.
8:20 -- Anthonu Duva, Jared Moura, Jack Handy.
8:30 -- Bobby Beach, Bert Bouley, Marc Forbes.
8:40 -- Kolby Simmons, Jason See, Mike Michel.
8:50 -- Peter Danko, Jim Devlin, Jim Dickinson.
9:00 -- Jeremiah Sullivan, Chad Bearce, Mark Troiano.
9:10 -- Robbi Hoffses, Mike Derosier, Evan Dean.
9:20 -- Scott Congdon, Ben Grant, Dan Tinkham.
9:30 -- Mark Metcalf, Paul McCarey, Jim Graham.
9:40 -- Jared Curran, Drew Corcoran, Brandon Nolan.
9:50 -- Roger Bousquet, Mike Nyhan, Matt Wasserman.
10:00 -- Ross Salotto, Chris Hanson, Keith Greim.
10:10 -- Richard Ringler, Brett Lareau, Andrew Belastock.
10:20 -- Kyle Potter, Brandon Goold, Eric Hunt.
10:30 -- Joe Oram, Nick Calderone, Mike Farrell.
10:40 -- Grant Certuse, Mike Philipp, Billy White.
10:50 -- Jay Sapovits, Lou DaSilva, Jake Moulton.
11:00 -- Sean McHugh, Kevin Foley, John Brunelle.
11:10 -- Matt Hogan, Brenden Loomer, Tyler Sinacola.
11:20 -- Ryan McGovern, Kris Carrier, Josh Fortier.
11:30 -- Thor Van Vaerenewyck, Shawn Seybert, Brian Brigham.
11:40 -- Marcus Costa, Greg Wiens, Nick Cruise.
11:50 -- Paul Malcolm, Ben Sapovits, Brendan Nolan.
12:00 -- Brian Kronmiller, Liam Costello, David Yurek.
12:10 -- Glenn Mattos, Brett Langille, John Lieneck.
12:20 -- Dan Bukoff, Justin Guimond, Spencer Dumas.
12:30 -- Jack Hanson, Mike Pyne, Eric Anzlovar.
12:40 -- Joe Oram, Sr., Dan Mills, Tommy Raposa.