Down the Fairway: Vaccaro having another big year

John Vaccaro is closing in on his second Capital Region Amateur Player of the Year award.

John Vaccaro is closing in on his second Capital Region Amateur Player of the Year award.

The Wolferts Roost Country Club standout tops the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Player of the Year point list with 323.63. Other top contenders are Dan Russo (323.63) of Rolling Hills at Antlers, Justin Deitz (228.88) of The Edison Club, Jim Gifford (222.75) of The Edison Club, Matt Clarke (210) of the Country Club of Troy, Don DeNyse III (201.83) of Capital Hills at Albany and Nick Feinberg (195) of the Country Club of Troy.

Although there are a few best-ball events, like the Tri-County Partners Championship next month, the last major tournament for the amateurs is the New York State Mid-Amateur Championship, set for Sept. 26-28 at Elmira Country Club. Only players age 25 and older are eligible for that event, however, and that would eliminate Deitz, Gifford and DeNyse, who are all playing for Siena College, and Feinberg, who is a recent college graduate. The winner of the New York State Mid-Am receives 100 points.

Vaccaro’s credentials are impressive. Along with being the defending New York State Mid-Amateur champion, he has several other state-wide tournament victories under his belt. He won the Vermont Senior Open over a field of pros and amateurs, and he captured the Cape Cod Senior Open. He was the runner-up in the Rhode Island State Amateur.

In local circles, he has won the Eagle Crest Shootout, the Tri-County Match Play and the now defunct Capital Region Amateur.

“I’m really looking forward to defending my title at the State Mid-Amateur,” said Vaccaro. “I’m not at 100 percent, though. I’m dealing with a forearm injury that I hurt again when I played in the USGA Mid-Amateur last week in Mil­waukee. But since there are only a few tournaments left, I’ll just suck it up and play.

“I’m thinking that I’ve just about got the points title locked up,” Vaccaro said. “I was the runner-up in 2005, I won it in 2006, and I was the runner-up last year to Jimmy Welch. It’s been a pretty good run for me. Remember, I’ve only been playing in area tournaments for about five years now, and I’ve won just about everything except the Capital Stroke Play Championship.”

Vaccaro also teamed with Chuck Connolly to win the Normanside Invitational and the Shaker Invit­ational Senior Division. They were runners-up in the McGregor Invit­ational and the Stadium Classic.

“I’ve got no complaints. It’s been a very good year for me,” he said.


The pros from the Northeastern New York PGA got bad news this week when they learned that longtime head pro and director of golf Tom Smack of The Sagamore Resort was let go.

New ownership took over on Monday, and the following day Smack was told he no longer had a job.

Not only was Smack the head pro at The Sagamore for more than 20 years, but he was also one of the top players in the NENYPGA in his younger years. Smack, now in his 60s, was one of the section’s longest hitters, and he represented the area in the U.S. Senior Open.

The general public didn’t realize how important Smack has been to his fellow professionals. Although his workload prohibited him from playing in many events over the last several seasons, the section’s annual fall meeting was always held at The Sagamore Resort, and thanks to Smack, the players were able to get accommodations at

reduced prices. He was always the perfect host.

Unfortunately, he recently purchased a home in the Bolton Landing area, and this move took him by surprise. Sources indicated that he still wants to stay in the business. We wish him luck.


The Turning Stone Resort Championship, to be held on the Atunyote Golf Club course Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, is scheduled to draw a field of 132 shooting for the $1,080,000 first prize.

This year, the Turning Stone Resort Championship will be the second event on the Fall Series. Left-hander Steve Flesch is the defending champion.

There are six players among the top 30 competing in The Tour Championship, who are also scheduled to compete in the Turning Resort Resort Championship: Dudley Hart, Carl Pettersson, Robert

Allenby, Briny Baird, D.J. Trahan and Ruyji Imada.

Eleven players in the Turning Stone Resort field have won on the PGA Tour this season: Brian Gay, J.B. Holmes, Imada, Richard S. Johnson, Greg Kraft, Steve Lowery, Parker McLauchlin, Sean O’Hair, Pettersson, Tranan and Johnson Wagner.

Although the one-over-par 73 by Flesch tied for the highest finish by a winner on the PGA Tour last season (Tiger Woods also shot a 73 at the WGC-CA Championship), Turning Stone was actually a birdie-fest all week. The par-72 Atuynote Golf Club played to an average of 70.719 for the entire week.


u It’s almost playoff time in Section II. High School sectionals begin Oct. 1 with the Class C-D tournament at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. Class B (Saratoga Spa State Park) and Class A (Van Patten) will conduct their tourn­aments Oct. 2. The Class A-B-C-D playoffs, also called the first round of the New York State qualifier, will be held Oct. 7 at Orchard Creek. After a cut, the final round of the qualifier will be held Oct. 9, also at Orchard Creek.

u The first Kevin Doyle Mem­orial Golf Tournament, a fund raiser for the American Heart Association, will be held Sept. 26 at Amsterdam Municipal. Entry fee is $75 and includes golf, grilled hot dogs and hamburgers at the turn as well as pizza, wings, salad and beer immediately after golf. The format will be four-person scramble. Prizes will be awarded for the top three teams, as well as closest to the pin, longest drive and a blind draw. For more information, contact Sean Doyle (316-3784), Greg Smith (424-8564) or Perry Bantis (527-1565).

u Although the scratch amateur players are just about done with their schedule, the local pros still have quite a few events remaining, including the Silver Dollar Classic Pro-Am at McGregor Links CC on Monday, the Assistants’ Match Play Championship at Colonie Golf & Country Club Sept. 30, the Heineken Open Pro-Am Classic at Capital Hills Oct. 6, the Senior-

Junior Pro-Pro at Shenendoah in Verona Oct. 10,, the NENYPGA Points Challenge at the Country Club of Troy Oct. 14, the PGA Challenge Cup Matches with the Central New York PGA at Teugaga CC in Rome Oct. 16 and the Bob Smith Memorial Senior Pro-Am, rescheduled from The Sagamore Resort to Leatherstocking GC Oct. 17.


Al Nebolini posted his 12th

career hole-in-one with a rescue 4-hybrid on the 195-yard 11th hole at The Edison Club.

Also at The Edison Club, Audrey Friedman aced the 23rd hole with a 7-wood.

Lorraine Marchione recorded her fifth career hole-in-one with a pitching wedge on the 80-yard 16th hole at Whispering Pines.

At Van Schaick Island Country Club, Rich Jacques collected his second hole-in-one in the last two weeks. He used a 6-iron from 156 yards on the 15th hole at VSI, and two weeks ago, he posted an ace at Shaker Ridge Country Club.


Dan DiBart eagled the third hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.

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