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A bartender and U.S. Open qualifier are among the inaugural Golf Digest Open champions

April 02, 2024
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Bennett Blakeman and Cody Mass (left) won the gross division at the 2023 Golf Digest Open, while Patrick Tansey and Ryan O Neill (right) took home the net championship.

Will Fullerton

The inaugural Golf Digest Open, played last October at Omni PGA Frisco in Texas, came to a dramatic finish in the gross and net divisions.

Battling chilly temperatures and a strong breeze, Scottsdale’s Bennett Blakeman and Cody Massa (top left) came to the final hole on the East course—slated to host the 2027 and 2034 PGA Championship—tied for the lead in the gross best-ball competition. When Blakeman, who qualified for the U.S. Open in 2010 and 2011, lost his tee shot into trouble, Massa stepped in with one thought: “Don’t let Bennett down,” he says.

He didn’t, and after finding the narrow fairway and finishing with a par, the pair shot a two-round total of seven-under-par 137 to become the first gross champions of the Golf Digest Open.

On the net side, you would think New Yorkers Patrick Tansey and Ryan O Neill (top right) were prepared for the elements as avid Gaelic football players, that rough Irish sport that makes American football look like a friendly affair. O Neill, a 16-handicapper who is training to become a firefighter, and Tansey, a bartender with an 8-handicap index, disagree, with both saying it was among the toughest conditions they have played in.

With the final hole playing into the wind, Tansey got up and down from 110 yards (using an 8-iron, normally his 160 club) to give the pair the victory.

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Blakeman warms up on the range prior to the 2023 Golf Digest Open.

Will Fullerton

The weather will likely be less of a factor in the 2024 Golf Digest Open, scheduled for Nov. 3-5 at Streamsong Resort in Bowling Green, Fla. Registration is now open for two-person teams to compete in gross and net divisions, with the national champions in each division winning a golf trip to Ireland, courtesy of Irish Golf Tours.

Teams can book their spot at Streamsong by advancing through one of four regional qualifying sites around the country, to be held at:

  • The Cape Club, Palm City, Fla., May 20
  • El Caballero Country Club, Tarzana, Calif., June 17
  • The Seawane Club, Hewlett, N.Y., June 24
  • The Golf Club of Houston (Members Course), Texas, June 24
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Matt Hahn

The top three gross and top three net teams from each site will qualify for the national championship, with the top gross and net teams each having their national championship entry fees paid for by Golf Digest. The entry fee for each qualifier is $300 per player ($600 per team) and includes food, drinks, plus over $300 in gifts. Click here for more information and to sign up.