Living legend Mielcarz of Concord returns to state am

  • Bob Mielcarz tees off at the first hole at the Mount Washington Resort Golf Club in 2015 in his quarterfinal match against Jim Cilley in the New Hampshire Golf Association Amateur Championship. Mielcarz won a record nine state am titles before stepping away from the event in 2012. He returned to play in 2015 and will be back in the state am this year when the event tees off Monday at Nashua Country Club. GEOFF FORESTER file / Monitor staff

  • Jim Cilley drives the second hole at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown Friday at the State Am. Geoff Forester

  • Above: Geoff Martin of Canterbury Woods putts on the third hole at the Mount Washington Golf Club during the first day of the State Amateur Championship. Below: Jim Cilley of Lochmere hits from the fourth fairway and is tied for seventh place. Complete results, B2.

Monitor staff
Published: 7/4/2020 4:12:12 PM

Concord’s Bob Mielcarz is coming out of state am golf retirement ... again. When you’ve won the event a record nine times like Mielcarz, treating retirement like Brett Favre is allowed.

Mielcarz, 70, will be one of 156 players teeing it up on Monday at Nashua Country Club for the New Hampshire Golf Association’s 117th Amateur Championship, otherwise known as the state am. The tournament will start, as usual, with two rounds of match play to reduce the field to 64. From there, it’s all match play, concluding with a 36-hole final on Saturday.

Mielcarz first stepped away from the state am in 2012 after playing at his home course, Concord Country Club. He came back in 2015 to play, and enjoy the scenery, at the Mount Washington Resort Golf Club, and wound up making it to the quarterfinals at age 65.

Now, he’s going back to a course where he won the 1979 championship to cap a string of three straight titles.

“I decided to do this for multiple reasons,” Mielcarz said. “I wanted to take a trip down memory lane, that’s where it kind of started. I can say that I played in one after turning 70 (he will turn 71 in August) and that I played in a new decade, the 2020’s, and that will it make it five decades. Nashua is also a course I know very well and it’s not long, so it’s not going to overpower me. And at times I still have some game left, and I was playing quite well earlier in the year, although the last week and a half I’ve struggled a bit.”

Those that know Mielcarz take his talk of “struggles” with a grain of salt.

“I think it's always great to have Bob in the field. He’s a living legend in our association,” Belmont’s Jim Cilley said. “I saw him a couple weeks ago at Concord Country Club and he was in good spirits, but typical Bob he was telling everybody how bad his game was after shooting one or two over par. But you know what? He’ll make match play because the golf course is short enough for him to do it, and then he’ll probably go out there and beat somebody in the first round who is going to be shocked that they’re even playing him.”

Cilley will arrive at this tournament carrying his own history - Nashua Country Club is where he claimed the 2011 state am.

“I usually play well there, but every time I go to Nashua I start to think about what I did in the past there and it almost becomes a little bit of a distraction,” Cilley said.

Back in 2011, Cilley received some welcome advice on how to approach the final from none other than Mielcarz himself.

“Bob called me the night before the (2011) final,” Cilley said. “I was sitting there trying to figure out how I’m going to beat Nick (MacDonald) and kind of in shock that I was even there as bad as I played in the semifinals, and Bob basically told me to hang around until the last nine holes. Anything can happen in the last nine, so you want to be in striking distance. So, that was some pretty good advice and a good pep talk and it kind of helped settle me.”

Mielcarz and Cilley are among 10 former champions who will be in the field, including last year’s winner John DeVito, who plays out of Passaconaway Country Club in Litchfield, and three-time winner Phil Pleat, who will be playing on his home course.

“The course is in fantastic shape. Greg Hollick, our superintendent, and his staff have done a tremendous job preparing for the event. Up until recent rain, it has been playing firm and fast with thick rough,” Pleat said of the 6,400-yard, par-71 NCC. “The par 3’s are very good holes and down the stretch 18 can be interesting with out of bounds all the way down the left side.”

Mark Stevens, who won the 2008 title playing out of Lochmere Country Club, is back in the field. Stevens had become a professional and was living in South Carolina, but he regained his amateur status, has moved back to the Concord area and is playing out of Beaver Meadow Golf Course. Another golfer to watch is William Huang, who shot a course-record 63 at Rochester Country Club to qualify for this year’s state am, is ranked No. 41 nationally in the American Junior Golf Association and will be playing collegiate golf at Stanford.

In addition to Mielcarz, six other golfers from Concord Country Club will he playing in this year’s tournament - Will McLaughlin, Doug Champagne, David Perry, Grayson Goulet, Derek Jensen and Ryan Phinney. Other locals in the event include Bob Landry (Loudon Country Club), Ricky Bergevin (Pembroke Pines Country Club), Jack Benson (Den Brae Golf Course), Travis Banga (Canterbury Woods Country Club), Scott Underhill (Canterbury Woods Country Club) and Fletcher Sokul, a Bishop Brady graduate playing out of Abenaqui Country Club.

Spectators will be allowed at the event. The NHGA will have social distancing guidelines in place and NCC will also have its own guidelines. Parking for all non-competitors will be at Rivier College, and everyone must wear a mask or facial covering when on Rivier property. The NCC clubhouse will be closed, but the Sports Center (curling rink) on site and the pro shop will be open.

Even though golf courses in New Hampshire were closed until May 11 due to the COVID-19 crisis, both Mielcarz and Cilley think the state competitors have had enough time to get their games ready for this test.

“I don’t think it will be fluky in any way. I think this tournament is completely loaded with talent,” Mielcarz said. “I think it’s going to be a very interesting event and whoever wins will have to play some really good golf, obviously, and maneuver through the quirkiness of match play.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at or on Twitter @timosullivan20)

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