Manasquan River set to host 88th Four-Ball Championship
October 23, 2020 - Not only will the 34 twosomes playing in the 88th NJSGA Four-Ball Championship this upcoming week have to contend with formidable challenge presented by Manasquan River Golf Club, but the late fall conditions will present their own set of trials.
“The conditions will be somewhat like they are in the springtime. In the summer, things at the Jersey Shore are pretty calm, but in the fall, we get some challenging winds,” said Manasquan River head professional Chris Dymek. “That will make things difficult on the back nine where the wind off the water is cool. Club selection on Holes 15 and 16, right on the river, will be important what with the heavy wind influence on those two holes.”
The Four-Ball Championship was originally scheduled to open the NJSGA season on May 5-7 but was postponed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Manasquan River’s staff and membership were gracious enough to accommodate the rescheduling, and the club will be well-represented in the championship.
There are several teams which feature MRGC members, and another with a close connection to the club. The team of Chris Housen and Michael Stamberger, and the brother tandem of Ethan and Jeremy Wall are all members of the club. Another club member, Connor Bekefi, will team with NJSGA Amateur champion Austin Devereux – who is a caddie at Manasquan River. Finally, the defending champions Kevin Campana of Ash Brook and Ryan MacDonald of Colts Neck (who played together collegiately at Rutgers University), boast MacDonald’s course knowledge – whose father is a MRGC member.
The Championship begins with stroke play qualifying on Tuesday, immediately followed by the round of 16 matches. Any uncompleted portion of the round of 16 will continue Wednesday, with the quarterfinals of match play to be held that afternoon. The semifinals and final matches set for Thursday, October 29.
Those in the field are in for a magnificent experience at one of the shore area's premier venues. Manasquan River sets up especially well for a partners, match play competition on a course where local knowledge is most helpful.
“Manasquan River presents opportunities in Four-Ball for one player to be aggressive and the other player to be smart,” surmised Dymek. “It’s a difficult golf course, but if you have one person in the hole at all times, it allows the other partner to be aggressive and pursue birdies.”
Dymek mentioned three holes in particular where birdie opportunities are at hand. They include the typically downwind, par-5, 470-yard, fifth hole and the par-5, 531-yard 11th hole. The 321-yard, par-4 14th hole is another.
“In fact, all three of the par fives on the golf course will tend to play with the wind at your back this time of year,” he noted.
The course itself is in magnificent condition. Aeration was delayed into early November.
“Right now, there is dense rough out there, so my advice would be to keep it in the fairway. And play smart on the approach shots into the greens, which are probably in best shape I’ve ever seen them.
“We rebuilt several greens a few years ago and they are exceptional and rolling great,” Dymek continued “We have 10 two-tiered greens on the property. It’s very important to be in the right quadrant of the green with the approach shot. If the ball doesn’t get to the proper quadrant, golfers will be left with a difficult two putt for sure.”
Manasquan River has been the site of numerous of NJSGA major championships, including the Amateur (1993, 1980, 1969), the Open (2012) and the Mid-Amateur (2004). It has also hosted the NJSGA Women’s Senior Amateur (2013) and the Compher Cup match vs. Golf Association of Philadelphia (2001, 1983). The club is slated to host the 2024 Amateur Championship.
Four years ago, a project designed to address drainage issues on the back nine turned into one that enhanced nearly half the holes on the course. It has led to a bona-fide, championship test.
“The course is playing more fair for today’s equipment and technology,” said Peter Gacos, MRGC’s president at the time who spearheaded the project that expanded to include upgrades of every bunker on the course, several new tee boxes and green complexes - including a new practice green - work on the topography and a new pumphouse.
Live scoring and full coverage throughout the NJSGA's final championship of 2020 will be available throughout the week at NJSGA.org and across its social media platforms.