Maccario hoping to warm up in Florida


Feb. 17—Like the winter, Nick Maccario’s golf game has cooled down a bit.

After the hottest summer of his life, maybe anybody’s life in the Merrimack Valley, he is looking for a jumpstart this weekend in Tampa, Fla.

Maccario, of “56” fame locally at his home course of Bradford Country Club and the reigning 2020 Mass. Golf’s Player of the Year, has taken his game on the national circuit.

The Bradford native is playing in the 66th annual Gasparilla Invitational at Palma Ceia Golf & Country Club beginning on Thursday.

It’s his third trek down south over the last two months, having played in the South Beach International Amateur in Miami and the Jones Cup in Sea Island, Ga.

Those tournaments are on the “Mid-Amateur” circuit for the top golfers 25 and over. Basically, this is for working “stiffs,” as in those with real jobs.

They ended up being disappointing finishes after his incredible summer, missing the cuts in both — 71-77 in Miami; 81-81-78 in Sea Island, Ga.

Compared to his historic run around here, it wasn’t up to his standards.

“It was definitely a wakeup call,” said Maccario. “They’ve been some tough fields with great players. I didn’t play well for the most part.”

Maccario decided to stay south after the Jones Invitational Cup two weeks ago.

Because he is able to work remotely at his job as an internal wholesaler with Fidelity, he’s been in Tampa the last two weeks, allowing him to practice and play.

“You get to a range or (at some indoor facility) and you might hit 57 shots with an iron and hit 45 really good,” said Maccario. “When you get to the course, you only get one of them. You have to make it count. I’m trying to get in as many rounds as I can.”

Maccario has played in some of these national and international events the last few years, but he admits expectations rose because of this past summer.

While the weather is nicer, the courses play a little different in that they are 600 yards longer, said Maccario.

“There’s a big difference,” said Maccario. “Instead of two short par-threes, you get two long ones, maybe 200 yards and longer. That changes things.”

A year ago at this same event in Tampa, Maccario finished a respectable tied for 37th with rounds of 74, 75 and 74.

“The more I’ve played the last couple of rounds, the more of small flashes of brilliance I’ve had,” said Maccario. “I’m hoping to play well this weekend. I’m really looking forward to it.”

There are world rankings for “mid-amateurs” and Maccario has some work to do there. He was ranked 444th world-wide this past summer and currently sits in the 588th spot.

There are more elite amateur tournaments to improve his ranking, including the Terra Cota Invitational in Naples, Fla. in late April and the 2021 U.S. Amateur Fourball in Seattle in late May with Mike Calef, which they qualified for after winning a sudden death playoff for the second and final spot in October.

The grand-daddy for the 25-and-older golfer is the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, which will be played at Bill Belichick’s home course, Sankaty Head Golf Club on Nantucket, in September.

The U.S. Amateur, which has no age restriction, which will be played at the prestigious Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club in August.

“I love these tournaments and the fact that it doesn’t make or break if I can pay my bills,” said Maccario. “We work for a living. And we love golf … Though I really like it when I play well, too.”

You can email Bill Burt at [email protected].

What is a mid-amateur?

A Mid-Amateur player is 25 or older and must have a USGA handicap index of 3.4 or lower, as opposed to 2.4 or lower for the U.S. Amateur.

The U.S. Mid-Amateur does not have a gender restriction, but there has never been a female champion. The USGA’s analogous event for women only is the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, first played in 1987.

The USGA specifically intended the Mid-Am as a championship for post-college golfers who were not pursuing golf as a career, as virtually all golfers who pursue a professional career decide to do so no later than their early twenties.

This was most likely a response to the fact that less than half of all U.S. Amateur qualifiers are 25 or older, and most older golfers found themselves disadvantaged in competing against college golfers who typically play much more often.


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