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Guyer, Wolfrum Salem’s Amateur Hopefuls

 The Salem Country Club professional staff, led by PGA Head Professional Kevin Wood and Director of Instruction Kirk Hanefeld, will not be the only Salem players seeking to qualify for this year’s U.S. Senior Open landing at Salem June 26-July 2.

Salem members Wayne Guyer and John “J” Wolfram have entered the local sectional qualifier, set for Kernwood Country Club on May 24.

“It can happen,” Guyer, 56, says optimistically, referring to longshots qualifying at sectionals. “I remember local amateur Steve Swedberg (of Beverly Golf & Tennis Club), qualifying for the first U.S. Senior Open we held here at Salem in 2001. That was a great achievement by Steve. You have to play your best, but it can be done.”

Swedberg, an outstanding multi-sport athlete, had enjoyed virtually no success outside his club when he made the grade in 2001, shooting two-under 67 at Plymouth Country Club, joining club pro Jim Sheerin of Abenaqui and Floridian Jim King, a veterzan campaigner, at that number as the three qualifiers. Swedberg made for one of the best stories of the week before competition started on Thursday. He missed the cut, finishing fifth from bottom after two rounds with a 170 score for 36-holes, but for the three days Swedberg was nearly as big a story as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Tom Watson. “Local boy made good” in a big way.

“Steve’s story resonates with me” says Guyer, a standout junior player at Middleton Golf Course and Masconomet Regional High School before playing golf at the University of Rhode Island. The insurance executive has won six club championships at Middleton, five at The International and one at Salem.

J Wolfum joins Guyer as a Kernwood qualifier hopeful.

“I owe it to myself and my club to try to qualify, since I have the index (2.3) for it,” adds Wolfrum, a former Ferncroft member who joined Salem in 2005. “I have no particular competitive accomplishments, except maybe having the worst record in the Met League, but surprises can happen at this level.”

“I know my chances are slim,” Guyer concedes. “But I’d love to make it to my second USGA championship (1995 USGA Mid-Amateur at Caves Valley); and on my home course to boot.”

He believes his familiarity with Kernwood, like Salem, a classic, highly rated Donald Ross designed course, will increase his chances. “I know the course well enough,” Guyer says.

Not so much Wolfrum, who traveled to upstate New York, New England and overseas for “the old telephone company,” as he called it, before settling down on the North Shore. “I’ve never played Kernwood,” he admits, “but I won’t let that fact hold me back. I’ll get a practice round in I hope and still give it my best shot. I know the Danvers Rivet can play a role on the front and the greens are typically slick from the first geen to the 18th. I’ll try and use my trusty 2-iron on the shorter par fours and keep myself in good position off the tee all the way around.”

This will be Guyer’s third attempt at U.S. Senior Open qualifying. “I figure I’ll need par or better to have a shot at getting a spot, but we’ve seen in the past where senior amateurs make it, some years with low numbers,” Guyer pointed out.

“It’s going to be a fun day no matter what I shoot. My wife Jean will be on the bag, and she’s my personal psychologist, which will help…. I’ll try to have an open, optimistic mind and let it rip.”

Most important, Guyer, a 3.2, makes clear, he is feeling fine physically and mentally and believes he can bring his game, between April and May 24, into peak form.

“Bottom line, it will simply be fun to be in the game at this level for a day, never knowing what might happen,” the 6-1, 224-pounder said. “I know lots of guys who should give it a shot but don’t throw their hat in the ring. Challenge yourself and give qualifying a try. In my case, if I can keep my tee ball in play, hit some greens, make some six-footers and play aggressively when the times are right, who knows?

Wolfrum agrees. Let the shots fall where they may. “I can make a lot of pars, but most important,” says Wolfrum, a purely self-taught type who now works for Language Line Solutions, a firm that provides interpretive services for those needing assistance learning English. “I’m just looking forward to the experience, no matter what my score. But a good sign might be that my dad, 87, recently made his first hole-in-one. Who knows?”

Don’t miss your chance to witness history as Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples and Tom Watson compete for the National Championship in Greater Boston. Tickets for the U.S. Senior Open are available now. Children 17 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult. Volunteer opportunities are still available.

By: Gary Larrabee, Media Liaison, 2017 U.S. Senior Open