By Dalton Balthaser
WARWICK, R.I. - Blustery winds, rock-hard greens and firm and fast conditions are ideal for a select few with the mental fortitude to understand that par is a good score.
For Metacomet Golf Club’s Bruce Heterick and Dean Parziale, the conditions suit how they both like to play.
“It was like the Rhode Island Amateur match play,” said Heterick. “Make pars and you’re going to be in it. Par was a damn good score today.”
“The conditions were great for the both of us because we are grinders,” said Parziale. “We find ways to make par. If you can win a tournament around par, we are going to be in the hunt because we both have good short games and are used to being scrappy.”
That they were. Parziale and Heterick carded a final round best-ball score of 70 to claim the 26th Rhode Island Golf Association Senior Four-Ball (Gross) at Potowomut Golf Club (par 71, 6,020 yards) Wednesday.
Their two-day total of 140 (2 under) was good enough for a two-shot victory over Green Valley Country Club’s Paul Quigley and Valley Country Club’s Michael Soucy who finished second at 142.
Warwick Country Club’s Chris Hurd and Allen Sayles, who held a share of the overnight lead with Quigley and Soucy, finished in a tie for third after a final-round 74 and 143 two-day total.
“It’s nice to get the win,” said Parziale, 59, of Cumberland, R.I. “The conditions were tough and Potowomut was hard. You come into these events thinking that you have to go low. The last two days were all about survival. You think you have to be 10 under but you must get yourself to realize that being around par is OK.”
“When you get to our age there is not much we get to do competition-wise,” said Heterick, 56, of Barrington, R.I. “The competition is what’s fun. Can you hit a quality shot and make an important putt when it is all on the line? When you are in your 20s and 30s you have a lot more chances to get the competitive juices flowing.”
After dropping a shot early, the Metacomet duo needed to get back on track. Parziale, a previous champion of this event (2017), was there to do just that.
“For us the birdie I made on No. 5 (par 4, 409 yards) was the turning point of the round,” said Parziale. “I stuffed a 7-iron from 163 yards to three feet and made the tricky downhill and sidehill putt. That got us back in the game. That showed us that we could do this.”
They made the turn in 1-over-par 36 and at one point were tied for the lead with the Warwick duo as well as Quigley and Soucy.
But a bogey-free 34 (2 under) on the back nine highlighted by birdies by Heterick on Nos. 10 (par 5, 477 yards) and 13 (par 4, 313 yards) helped keep them at the top.
“Yesterday I was in every hole,” said Heterick. “Today I struggled on the front nine and was out to lunch. Dean had it going on the front and I was able to pick up my play on the back nine.”
What ultimately gave the Metacomet tandem the hardware was a delicate up-and-down by Heterick on No. 16 (par 3, 139 yards). He gently eased his putt from the fringe down a swail to six feet and buried the comebacker.
Heterick’s nerves were once again tested on No. 18 (par 4, 367 yards) where he was short-sided behind the green to a back hole location. His ball nestled down deep in Potowomut’s lush rough.
“My lie on No. 18 behind the green was horrid,” said Heterick. “I was glad Dean put his similar chip close enough to the point where I thought he could make the putt for par and I was able to hit a solid shot. I love putting with pressure and I felt good over that six-footer.”
The conditions didn’t faze Heterick and Parziale. They didn’t use a rangefinder once during the entire event.
“We are as old-school as you can get,” said Parziale. “We walked off the yardage for each shot and I bet no pairing in the field didn’t use at least one rangefinder between the two of them the last two days.”
Metacomet’s membership has had a nice week in RIGA events. It all began with Jamie Lukowicz’s victory in the John Burke Memorial (Gross) May 15. Now Parziale and Heterick take home the hardware this week.
“I’m 56, I don’t remember much of anything,” said Heterick jokingly. “As you get older, you appreciate the wins more. Winning never gets old.”
“When you are at Metacomet you are supposed to win,” said Parziale. “That’s the way it is. It is the most competitive group of guys that I have ever been around. Our Saturday and Sunday games that we play are like playing the R.I. Amateur every weekend. You can rattle off the names of guys who have won big events in the state and beyond who are members. Nothing better to prepare you for the final holes of tournament golf than that.”