Rob Oppenheim had quite the successful week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tourney.

By Gary Larrabee

He knew he was going to make the biggest paycheck of his professional career, but that was not uppermost in his mind as Salem-born Rob Oppenheim faced his third shot on the 72nd and final hole of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Sunday afternoon.

Oppenheim, just turned 37, needed to make a par 5 to finish in the top 10 for the week and not only win $216,000 (instead of approximately $180,000 if he made bogey 6), but qualify automatically for this weekend’s Genesis Open at Riviera outside Los Angeles. But the challenge to make par was daunting

Oppenheim, who grew up in Andover, where his parents still live, found his third shot on the famous, oceanside five-par under a large tree, pin-high right, on dirt, with a large tree root one inch in front of his ball. He faced a ridiculously difficult pitch shot over a sidehill bunker, to a tight-side flagstick.

“It looked like I was going to make a mess on my last hole when it had been such a wonderful week,” Oppenheim told North Shore Golf. “Everything had gone so great, from being in Houston to watch the Patriots win, to playing the first three rounds with my amateur partner, Bill Perocchi, Bill Belichick and Ricky Barnes.

“But then I three-putted twice the back nine (Nos. 14, 15) to drop to nine under and now this on 18. I tried to stay positive but I knew what could happen if I botched this chip shot. It could fly over the green and land in the Pacific Ocean or it could hit that root, pop straight up in the air and leave me with the same hard shot again. I couldn’t believe what I might do to end the week. Yes, I knew what was at stake.”

With Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo commentating and the CBS-TV cameras rolling, Oppenheim pulled off one of the great shots of his golfing life. “The ball nicked the root, got over the bunker and rolled onto the green – more than I ever could have hoped for – and finished about eight, ten feet beyond the cup,” Oppenheim said.

Oppenheim stroked the putt straight into the hole for par, a level 72, a 9-under 278 and a $216,00 paycheck, his most rewarding day financially as a professional. And… a berth in the Genesis Open at Riviera, where the purse is $7 million.

“I just wanted to get the ball on the green, two-putt, settle for eight under and hope that was good enough. I surprised myself, I must admit. I couldn’t believe I’d pulled it off, getting up and down from that horrible spot.”

That proved to be a $43,000 par putt after he’d driven in the right-side fairway bunker lip, played a safety pitch and struck his 230-yard, 3-hybrid third shot where he wished not to go.

“I can’t remember ever facing an up-and-down situation like that with so much at stake,” Oppenheim conceded. “I’d played three real solid rounds in the 60s (69 at Monterey, 69 at Spyglass, 68 at Pebble Beach and kept it together quite well coming down the 72nd hole, even with the three-putts. Maybe it was just going to work out the last hole no matter how I played. Because it did.”

The weekend was double sweet because his father Jim, the former Kernwood member now playing out of Andover Country Club, was on hand, as was Rob’s wife Lacey.

Rob was not all that surprised he played well. “I’ve played well here before (qualifying for 1999 U.S. Amateur and winning two matches) and it is my favorite course anywhere,” he said. “I feel at ease here. I’ve have played well of late.”

Oppenheim will find a way to thank his playing partner, Pebble Beach CEO Perocchi, who gave his old buddy from the Merrimack Valley a sponsor’s exemption into the AT&T.  Rob was otherwise stuck playing the Tour all year, but now he has a chance to play several PGA Tour events, based how the next few weeks go. A reshuffling of player standing in late March could thrust Oppenheim into a permanent eligibility status where the Michelsons, Johnsons and McIlroys play regularly.

“Pebble Beach gives me a great chance,” Oppenheim said. “Hope I can take advantage of it.”

He is finding out more as he plays Riviera this week. Yesterday, in the first round, Oppenheim shot a 4-over 75, leaving him tied for 129th.


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PEABODY – Junior volunteer registration for the 2017 U.S. Senior Open Championship, conducted by the United States Golf Association, is now open. Salem Country Club will host the 38th U.S. Senior Open,from June 26-July 2.

More than 200 junior volunteers are needed to fill standard bearer and program sales positions.

Standard Bearers are responsible for carrying the standard and posting scores for the group of golfers. These volunteers walk all 18 holes alongside the players and keep all spectators updated on their progress and score.

Program Sales volunteers are responsible for selling the official championship program at the main entrance village.

Volunteer positions are open to juniors who are between the ages of 13 and 17 on or before June 26, 2017. The purchase of a junior volunteer package is required for $50 (a $125 value), which includes one championship water bottle, one championship golf shirt and a credential valid for all seven days of the championship, as well as complimentary food, snacks and beverages on the days they volunteer. Each volunteer will be asked to work approximately 16 to 20 hours, or four to five shifts over the course of the championship.

The 2017 U.S. Senior Open marks the sixth USGA championship to be hosted at Salem Country Club, including the 2001 U.S. Senior Open.

Interested volunteers should visit For additional information, contact Megan Gormley at 978-818-6006.



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Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker on the second hole of the south course during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

It’s been a busy week for Tiger Woods. He switched from Nike to TaylorMade equipment, and yesterday he returned to the PGA tour after a long hiatus. How did he do? Check out ESPN’s report here:


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Matt Sawicki, the USGA director of championships, speaks about the upcoming for  US Senior Open to be held at the Salem Country Club. Mark Lorenz/Lynn Item


Matt Sawicki, director of championships for the United States Golf Association, met with U.S. Senior Open managers at Salem Country Club on Wednesday and Thursday.


PEABODY – The U.S. Senior Open doesn’t arrive at Salem Country Club until late June, but Matt Sawicki, director of championships for the United States Golf Association, and his team have been planning the event for some three years. Those efforts are heating up in advance of the June 26-July 2 championship, the crown jewel of the Senior circuit.

Sawicki spent most of Wednesday and Thursday at Salem CC, meeting with Eddie Carbone, executive director for the Senior Open, and his Bruno Event Team management staff. Sawicki said the purpose of the visit was twofold: on Wednesday the team brainstormed over marketing efforts and developing an initial plan for the spring campaign. On Thursday, the team toured the course with executives from corporate sponsor Lexus, going over such logistics as where the Fox TV towers will be situated, where people will congregate on the course and spectator flow.

“I often get asked, ‘What takes so long to plan an event such as the U.S. Senior Open,’ ” said Sawicki, a resident of Hoboken, N.J. “Well, by the time the championship rolls around everything is so intricately detailed that we’re confident that every person who walks on the course on the Monday of championship week will get the highest quality experience that’s possible.

“The volunteer leadership team at Salem has been great. This is a major commitment by members, who give up their course for several weeks, but everyone here is committed to making this an incredible success,” added Sawicki, who expects to visit Salem CC at least every couple of weeks as the championship nears.

For a more in-depth look at Matt Sawicki and what it takes to mount an undertaking as intense as the U.S. Senior Open, check out the next issue of North Shore Golf magazine, arriving in March.


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The new management team at Nahant Golf Club, formerly Kelley Greens, from left, Anthony De Dominicis, Toby Ahern and John Moore.


NAHANT — A golf pro, a restaurateur and a greenskeeper walk into a bar. Sawzalls are buzzing, nail guns are pounding. Dust fills the air. What was once a dark, tired-looking space is being transformed into a clubhouse/dining/function facility that will serve as the base of operations for Nahant Golf Club.

The threesome — PGA professional Toby Ahern, restaurateur John Moore and longtime Golf Course Superintendents Association of America member Anthony De Dominicis — are pleased with how quickly Wilson Brothers Construction is rehabbing the former home of Kelley Greens.

Moore and De Dominicis are partners in Play it as it Lies Golf Management Inc., chosen by the town to manage its nine-hole public golf course, which sits on 39 oceanfront acres of conservation land on Willow Road. Ahern, the St. John’s Prep and University of Richmond grad who cut his teeth at  the former Colonial Country Club course in Lynnfield, has spent the past 25 years as golf director at Ferncroft Country Club.

For the past decade, the property has been managed by Michael O’Callaghan. His lease expired on Dec. 31. Jeff Chelgren, town administrator, and the Golf Course Management Committee selected Play it as it Lies’ lease proposal. The new managers were on site on New Year’s Day, ready to start ambitious improvements. Their deal with the town is for five years, with the opportunity to go to 15 years. The managers declined to say how much they are investing in the project. “It is ongoing; we don’t have a final figure yet, but it is more than anyone has ever invested here,” said De Dominicis, who lives in town.

An April opening is planned.

“Jeff Chelgren and the town have been fantastic, very supportive and encouraging, very forward-thinking by extending the potential length of the lease,” said De Dominicis. “It feels very much like a partnership with the town,” added Moore.

Each of “The Big Three” brings a distinct skill set to the table.

Moore, whose Navy Yard Bistro in Charlestown is a frequent Best of Boston winner, grew up in Nahant and played the course often as a boy. “We are a hospitality company, first and foremost,” said Moore. “This will not only be a golf club; we are also committed to providing a fine dining experience, a nice bar and lounge, upgraded function space and entertainment. Good food at a reasonable price. I’d like to see yoga classes here and see dance companies like Forty Steps Dance here. I would also like to bring in some of Boston’s top chefs for cooking demonstrations in the new patio/grilling area.”

A second entrance will lead directly to the 42-seat Season’s restaurant; families will not have to walk through the lounge to access the dining room. The bar area will be upgraded and will feature 20 high-top tables and 22 seats at the bar. The Keno and lottery machines will not be returning, Moore said. The pro shop will also be updated.

“Everything will be new,” said Moore. The husband-wife team of Bill and Jeanne Finnerty served as architect and interior designer.

Grounds superintendent De Dominicis said many capital improvements are planned for the course. “We’ve invested heavily in golf course maintenance equipment,” he said. “The grounds will be beautified. … Having Nahant Country Club become a certified Audubon sanctuary is something I’d like to make happen.” He plans to install two wells and modernize the irrigation system, so the course could be self-sufficient for water.

“Above all, I’d like to bring the course up to its potential,” he said.

Both said they will rely heavily on Ahern, who plans to beef up the golf programs for juniors and women in addition to assisting the many leagues that play the par-30 course regularly. “Given people’s lifestyles today, where time is so valuable, the nine holes we offer is a more realistic option. People won’t have to spend six hours on the course, about one hour and 45 minutes for nine holes on Saturday will be the norm,” said Ahern.

The three also heaped praise on Alisa De Dominicis, Anthony’s wife, who “helped a million different ways and kept us on track.”

For more details and membership information, go to

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Editor Bill Brotherton

Editor Bill Brotherton

The temperature is plummeting, leaves are falling off the trees and golf courses throughout New England are about to shut down for the season. The perfect time to rekindle North Shore Golf, right?

We think so.

After a three-year hiatus, Essex Media Group, publisher of The Daily Item, Lynnfield Weekly News, Peabody Weekly News and 01907 and ONE magazines, is reviving the popular golf magazine. We’re warming up this off-season with a digital-only edition featured on our website – The quarterly publication will soon return, in full glossy print form and will be delivered to clubs throughout the region.

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Haverhill women led the charge for change at clubs

Karen Richardson (left) and attorney Marsha Kazarosian reuniting in the conference room at Kazarosian’s office in Haverhill. Of the nine plaintiffs, Richardson received the largest award, a total of $342,000, which included $250,000 in punitive damages. | Photo: Spenser Hasak


The year was 1996. The Spice Girls’ hit single “Wannabe” was at the top of the chart, a website named eBay was launched and the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial began.

In Massachusetts, an equally noteworthy event was taking shape that would change the way country clubs nationwide would conduct business: Ten female golf members of Haverhill Country Club filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the club, the first suit of its kind against a golf or country club in the United States to be tried in front of a judge and jury.

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