Down The Fairway: Capital Region players chase elusive State Am
Many of the best players in the Capital Region believe they have what it takes to win an elusive state championship, but in order to prove it, they must first earn one of 17 berths available at Monday’s local qualifier for the 90th annual New York State Amateur Championship.
Colonie Golf & Country Club will host a strong field that tees off between 7:30 and 10:30 a.m.. Seventeen spots will be up for grabs.
No local player has won the State Amateur — scheduled for July 17-19 at Elmira Country Club — since Jay Gunning pulled off the feat in 1986. Gunning, then playing out of Town of Colonie Golf Course, later became a club pro and competed on the mini tours. The only other two local players to win the State Am in the last 35 years are Bill Boland in 1983 and Rich Serian in 1977. Both were members of the Country Club of Troy at the time.
In recent years, the State Amateur has been dominated by college standouts, and that could be bad news for the area contingent, because a handful of the best younger competitors — including the red-hot Victor Fox of Normanside Country Club and former Troy Invy winner Donald DeNyse III — have opted to play in the New York State Open at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course instead. Both pros and amateurs are eligible for that tournament, which traditionally is held during the same week.
Among the favorites to earn qualifying spots in the State amateur are Country Cub of Troy’s Stephen Quillinan Jr., who recently won the Troy Invitational; three-time Gazette County Amateur winner Robby Bigley Jr. of Pinehaven Country Club; Siena College product Justin Deitz of The Edison Club; multiple Mohawk Member-Guest champion Brandon Haase; and fellow Mohawk GC member Jim Gifford, who has a Tri-County Match Play title and two Saratoga County Amateur crowns to his credit.
Other players to keep an eye on include Dave Hayes of Schuyler Meadows, Lance Hope of Schen-ectady Municipal, John Bogardus of Normanside CC, James Belogna Jr. of Shaker Ridge Country Club and Chris Gilbert of eClub Capital District, a non-real estate club.
Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook tied for 11th in last year’s State Amateur and earned an exemption into this year’s event, along with Jeb Buchanan of Wolferts Roost CC, who also finished in the top 20. Welch, who would have earned an exemption anyway because he won the 2011 State Mid-Amateur crown, is a three-time Troy Invitational champion and former Tri-County Match Play winner.
When the temperatures start reaching 90, maybe it’s time to start thinking about playing golf up north.
Many of the top Adirondack golf courses are offering specials this summer, and here are just a few:
Bluff Point Golf & Country Club is offering two rounds of golf and accommodations on “America’s third-oldest golf course” for $79 per person during the week and $89 on weekends.
Placid Bay Inn on Lake Placid is offering two nights of accommodations and 18 holes of golf with cart at either Whiteface Club & Resort or Craig Wood for $108 per person. You can play Saranac Inn for an additional $15 per person.
Top of the World Resort in Lake George has a stay-and-play package with breakfast and reduced greens fees starting at $125 per person, while Malone Golf Club has two nights’ accommodations and two days of unlimited golf starting at $189 per person. Cart for the first round and a short-game clinic are also included.
For more information on Adirondack golf packages, contact Rebeca Steffan at 523-9258.
Speaking of Adirondack golf, the inaugural Whiteface Club & Resort Open Golf Championship is set for July 14-15.
The par-71 Whiteface Club & Resort is in its 114th season. The tournament includes an open div-ision, a senior division (age 50-65) and a super senior division (66 and older) for the amateurs, as well as a division or the club professionals.
Entry fee is $150 and includes a practice round on July 13, as well as a commemorative jacket for each competitor. Several thousand dollars in prizes will be available for both net and gross for the amateurs, while more than $1,000 will be offered to the winner of the pro division.
Lodging may be arranged at the Mirror Lake Inn (523-2544). For more information, call the Whiteface Club & Resort pro shop at 523-7888 or the main office at 523-2551.
My own golf game is starting to come around a little bit, thanks to lessons from Town of Colonie Golf Course general manager and head pro Noel Gebauer.
The first lesson two weeks ago focused on my full swing, and I’m hitting the ball much better over my last seven rounds. Thursday, we had an excellent short-game lesson where we discussed putting, chipping and pitching.
On the putting green, I’m working on practicing with a right-hand-only stroke just to get the feel of the putter head. Noel has lengthened my backstroke, and we are concentrating on keeping backstroke and follow-through the same length.
In the chipping department, I’ve improved tremendously by implementing a longer backswing with a much shorter follow-through that almost stops at the ball. I’m beginning to see excellent results with a much sharper strike on the ball.
With pitching, we are using a clockface system for distance control. I must focus on using my entire body on the follow-through with a little wrist hinge for longer pitches.
Saratoga National Golf Club hosts the NEWGA Gail Sykes Best Ball Championship Monday. ...
The Eastern New York Golf Association moves to Town of Colonie Golf Course for its next weekly event on Thursday. ...
Local pros compete in the Senior-Junior Pro-Pro Monday at Skenendoah Golf Club. Speaking of local pros, Normanside Country Club assistant pro Scott Berliner, the reigning NENYPGA Player of the Year, competed in the Professional National Championship earlier this week in California. He made the cut and finished five-over-par, narrowly missing a chance to play in the PGA Championship. The top 20 players earned a berth. There was an eight-player playoff at three-over par for that final spot. ...
The seventh annual golf tournament to benefit Amanda’s House, a home away from home for families of patients at Glens Falls Hospital, will be held Aug. 5 at Country Meadows, a 14-hole executive course on Route 149 between Fort Ann and Lake George. Entry fee for the four-person scramble is just $25 and includes a buffet after golf. There will be a 3 p.m. shotgun start. For more information, contact Country Meadows. ...
The inaugural Puttin’ for Kids golf fundraiser to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region, will be held July 27. Entry fee for the four-person scramble at Western Turnpike Golf Club is $500 per foursome and includes golf, cart, breakfast, lunch, a hot and cold buffet after golf and a gift bag. Contact Joe Trapasso at 38-0870 for more information. ...
The 14th annual Glenville Rotary Golf Classic will be held Aug. 2 at Van Patten Golf Course. Entry fee for the four-person scramble is $100 and includes a snack at the turn and lunch. Call John Weldon at 399-0048 or 596-0320.
Jay DeGasperis, playing with the Dutchmasters league at Thunderhart Golf Course, aced the 186-yard fourth hole with a 5-wood.
Todd Guzewski holed out with a 6-iron on the 180-yard 12th hole at Mohawk River Country Club & Chateau.
At Rolling Hills at Antlers, Vince Guardino aced the 165-yard sixth hole with a driver.
Brett Robinson of Niskayuna hit a pitching wedge for a hole-in-one on the 110-yard seventh hole at Briar Creek. That hole also yielded an ace to Mike Croff, who used a 9-iron for his first career hole-in-one.
Jim Ryan found the cup with a pitching wedge on the 125-yard fourth hole at Shaker Ridge Country Club.
Marie Miklic recorded a hole-in-one on the 100-yard ninth hole with a 7-iron at Whispering Pines.
Brian Montelone recorded both a double eagle and an eagle in the same round at Mohawk River Country Club & Chateau. He holed out with a 5-iron on the par-5 14th hole for the albatross and also eagled the par-4 seventh hole with a sand wedge.
Jeff Pitts also scored a double eagle on the 21st hole at Van Patten Golf Course.
Harold Townley recorded an eagle-2 on the par-4 16th hole at Ballston Spa Country Club.
Mike DiCocco eagled the 15th hole while playing in the AC Body Works league at Briar Creek.
At Amsterdam Municipal,
Michael Tambasco (third hole), Art Brumley Jr. (fifth), Brendon Conrad (10th), Mike Schebel (10th) and Bob Roulton (10th), Doug Hart III (17th) and T.J. Sumigray (17th) posted eagles.