The greens weren’t too fast and the moment wasn’t too big for Raymond Dennehy IV, but the winds blowing on opening day of the Mass Amateur made his trip back to the Kittansett Club a puzzling one.
“I enjoy putting on fast greens. I don’t enjoy wind. It’s tricky,” said Dennehy IV, whose two medal-play rounds of 7-over-par 78 left him out of the running for the match-play segment that continued later in the week.
The medal-play rounds were held on July 13 at Kittansett and July 14 at the Bay Club in Mattapoisett.
While 22-year-old Sudbury resident Matthew Organisak would emerge on July 17 as the champion of the event, Dennehy IV was a unique competitor. Not only did he play the Mass Amateur at age 17, the Princeton resident and rising senior at St. John’s of Shrewsbury is the great-grandson of the late Raymond Dennehy, Kittansett’s first teaching professional.
A statue memorializing the original Raymond Dennehy sits at the course on a rare replica of the Bobby Jones sundial that sits at Augusta National. Dennehy served as the Marion-based club’s first pro from 1927 to 1973.
“He would have been oh, so proud of Raymond, and he really enjoyed Kittansett, working there and being there, and to have a relative embrace it such as he has, I think would be pretty cool,” said Raymond Dennehy III, Raymond Dennehy IV’s father.
Longtime local golf pro Greg Dennehy worked under his uncle, the original Raymond Dennehy, as assistant pro at Kittansett from 1958 to 1963. While Dennehy III never played at the level his son is playing at now, he said a passion for the game runs deep in the family.
“My father (Raymond Dennehy II) grew up in Marion so there’s a strong relationship,” said Dennehy III, whose father played for Tabor Academy and Bowdoin College. “My dad – he’s since passed – he was a very good golfer. Golf’s a passion type of sport. I think my grandfather (Dennehy I) enjoyed teaching people and enjoyed it when they continued on.”
That’s what Raymond Dennehy IV continues to do even after rounds he’d like to forget. Instead, he learns from them, and improves.
“I went right back out the next day, worked on a couple of things. I had a little bit of a wide stance with my wedges that allowed inconsistencies,” said Dennehy IV, who continued his busy summer of golf on July 15 at Oak Hill Country Club in Fitchburg where he is a member.
Playing the second round at the Bay Club, Dennehy IV failed to birdie a hole for the first time this year. He had made two birdies in the opening round at Kittansett, both of them two-putt birdies that could have been eagles on Nos. 15 and 18.
A couple of forgettable rounds failed to sour him on the experience, however.
Dennehy IV had made his first trip to Kittansett around age 10 “not to play, but to go there. I forgot what we were doing,” he said, but there is another family photo of him as a 10-year old right where he was on July 13, checking out his great-grandfather’s statue.
The Dennehy family has kept a long-distance family membership, “so for the past four years I try to get down to Kittansett a lot – it’s a day trip for me, two hours down, four hours of golf, and two hours back,” said Dennehy IV. “I enjoy playing the course a lot. It’s challenging, I think I played it six times prior to the Mass Amateur, and I got down there to prepare for it.”
Only practice rounds didn’t measure up to the real thing, as in the Stimpmeter.
“There was a big difference. I think a day before I went down there and played a quick practice round, with my dad and friends. The greens were so slow,” he recalled.
Dennehy IV knew the tournament would be different, having talked to Kittansett pro John Tamburro and learning of plans to cut and double-roll the greens. The wind blew on especially on the No. 1-6 and 16-18 holes coming back toward the clubhouse.
Dennehy IV has a lot of golf yet to play this summer, and the downtime during the statewide shutdown of courses he turned into opportunity for personal training.
“I used to swing really hard at the ball and got a lot of distance,” he said, estimating tee shots averaging 270 yards last year.
This year he’s swinging with more control and hitting the ball significantly farther. Part of that is due to growth – Dennehy IV grew four inches over the last year and now stands 6 feet tall and weighs 154 pounds – and part of it is the product of his workouts.
“I worked in a lot of core (training). I gained 30 yards, I hit it like 300 now, 305,” he estimates.
With a three-day tournament at end of the month and the Mass Junior Amateur to look forward to on August 3 at Cranberry Valley Golf Course in Harwich, Dennehy IV hopes his summer of swing culminates in a fall high school season.
“Hopefully my senior season happens and I get to play golf because our team has a good shot at winning states, a really good chance,” he said.
College golf is likely for the future, and Dennehy IV is undecided on where to study for a career in business entrepreneurship or finance. The only thing he has ruled out is attending a college “where everyone gets in… I want to be challenged,” he said.
“There’s ups and downs in this game,” said Dennehy III, his father. “Raymond, he’s not afraid to practice. He spends a lot of time playing and practicing and spending a lot of time with his buddies talking about golf. He’s all in.”
By Mick Colageo