Chas Conrad’s simple mantra,“serve the members,” has made him one of the longest-tenured head professionals in the Capital Region.
The 60-year-old Conrad knows every square foot of Shaker Ridge Country Club. He should. He’s been walking the fairways and greens at the Loudonville layout for more than 52 years, including the last 33 as the head pro. He was an assistant professional for almost five years before that.
“I take care of my members, and I don’t complain. That’s probably why I’ve been around for so long,” said the no-nonsense Conrad, who spends most of his time working in the pro shop. “My goal is to keep the members satisfied,” he said.
Most people don’t know that Conrad used to be a fine player and teacher. But in recent years, he lets his assistant pros do both.
“I don’t work quite as long as I used to, but I still work about 65 hours a week here,” he said. “Last year, I had a streak of working 90 straight days. I’m usually in the pro shop at about 6 a.m. Sometimes, I can leave at 3 or 4 p.m., but if there’s an outing going on, I stick around. The good thing is that I have excellent help.”
Conrad gives plenty of credit to his excellent staff, which includes assistant pros Scott Berliner and Kevin VanOrt, as well as “director of golf,” Trent Kaufman, who has been working side by side with Conrad for more than 30 years.
“There’s no better assistant than Trent. Nobody knows more about handicapping and tournaments. He’s a whiz at the computer, and he really knows everything about the game. He’s a been a tremendous help to me,” Conrad said.
While VanOrt is new at Shaker Ridge, Berliner has been there for a couple of seasons, and has proven to be an outstanding player and instructor. Last year, he was the Northeastern New York PGA’s
Assistants’ Association’s Co-Player of the Year.
Although Conrad hasn’t played in a NENYPGA event for about a decade, he used to be an excellent player with a strong short game.
“I was about a 3 or 4 handicap when I played at Watervliet High School,” he recalled. “I taught the game for 30 years, and I was a proponent of the hands and hips method of teaching. Nowadays, most of the teachers don’t want players to use their hands as much, but I find it really helps in the short game. That was my specialty when I used to play and teach.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Conrad started working at Shaker Ridge when he was 8 years old, and began caddying for former head pro George Ramsden when he was 9. Conrad continued to work at the club while in high school, where he played football and ran track for the Cannoneers.
As an assistant pro, he worked with former Mohawk Golf Club head pro John Maurycy and the late Pete Famiano, the Schenectady School District Hall of Famer who died just recently.
“I’ve been here for a long time. There’s only one or two members still here since I’ve been at the club,” said Conrad, whose two children, 35-year-old Chad and
32-year-old Kim, also enjoy playing the game.
“I don’t mind working. I’ve worked hard all my life. That’s the way I was brought up,” said Conrad.
“This is an excellent place to work. The members are always trying to improve the club, and we have a lot of excellent players. When I retire in a few years, maybe I’ll start playing again.”
Shaker Ridge continues to be one the most competitive clubs in the area, in terms of top players. More than 90 players have single-digit handicaps. In these tough economic times, Shaker Ridge also has continued to thrive with 300 members, although Conrad said club officials are always looking for more members.
Don’t expect Conrad to retire soon. He’s too busy.
GREAT NEW GADGET
Van Patten Golf Club head pro Glen Snowden is heavily involved with a great new invention, Pro-On-The-Go.
It’s a palm-sized digital audio message player and voice recorder specifically designed for golfers.
Pre-recorded prompts about four of the most common shots in golf are accessible by pressing a color-coded button. Each message is
10 seconds in length.
But even more interesting is the fact that besides the regular four tips that come with the gadget, four more tips are available directly from Snowden that are customized for each golfer. He uses the gadget in his own lessons.
Snowden said one of his students, Howard Katz, invented the new
device to help a friend who was trying to get fitted for a set of clubs, but was struggling with his game.
“There are four tips that are prerecorded and don’t change,” Snoweden said. “There is one for the tee shot, one for the fairway, one for the pitch shot and one for the bunkers. But underneath the regular buttons, there are four more spots for recordable messages. It’s unbelievable. I can customize swing tips for you under each button. It’s like I’m giving you a playing lesson. I can give you reminders while you are on the course. You can take your instructor with you, and it conforms to USGA rules,” said Snowden.
Pro-On-The-Go is available for $20. Snowden sells them at Van Patten through his lesson plan. For more information, go to www.silverbulletsystems.net. I’m thinking about giving one a try myself. I can always use all the help I can get.
EDISON TO THE RESCUE
The Edison Club came to the
local pros’ rescue, and will once again host the Northeastern New York PGA Stroke Play Championship Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.
The section was looking for a site this winter, but couldn’t find one. Josh Hillman of Berkshire Hills Country Club won last year’s event en route to being named the Player of the Year.
“I think the course held up
extremely well last year, and all the pros enjoyed it,” said Edison Club member Mark Cusano, who was one of the people responsible for trying to get the club to host the pros’ most important event for a second consecutive season.
u Former Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake standout Tom Cooper earned medalist honors with a seven-
under-par score of 69-69-71-209 as Methodist College won its seventh straight conference title and 27th overall. The Monarchs shot a 291-286-288-865 to finish 33 strokes ahead of Greensboro (898). Christopher Newport was third with a 916. The Monarchs will compete in the NCAA Championships
May 13-16 in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Cooper was also a first-team all-conference selection.
u Shaker Ridge Country Club has changed the date for the Shaker
Invitational. It will be held
Aug. 30-Sept. 1.
u Eagle Crest Golf Club will hold a Spring Session Junior Clinic to “jump start” juniors in the four basic elements of the game. The clinic begins May 9 and runs for three weeks, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Call 877-7082, ext. 230, for more information.
u The Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau is holding its annual golf tournament May 27
at Saratoga National Golf Club. The tournament will have a 1 p.m. shotgun start, and an awards presentation follows from 6 to 7:30 p.m. To request an invitation, call Kathy Price at 584-1531 or register online at www.discoversaratoga.org.
u Tee times for weekend and holiday play at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course are required effective May 2. Call 842-6480 at
6 p.m. Wednesday for Saturday play, and at 6 p.m.Thurday for Sunday play. Weekday tee times are suggested, but not required, effective Monday.
u St. Mary’s School of Waterford will host its seventh annual golf tournament/fundraiser, renamed the St. Mary’s-L. Scott Cuomo Memorial, June 25 at Van Patten Golf Course. Registration is $100, and includes golf, cart, lunch and dinner. Call 237-0652 or visit www.-smswaterford.org for more information.
u Fox Run Golf Club will hold several sessions of Get Golf Ready beginning in May. For more information, call head pro Rich Scott at 762-3717 or visit www.foxrungolfclub.net.
u John Vaccaro won the first Eastern New York Golf Association tournament of the season last week at McGregor Links Country Club. This week’s event will be Monday at Ballston Spa Country Club.
u The first big amateur event of the season will be the Stadium
Classic May 2-3 at Stadium Golf Club.
u The local pros compete in the NENYPGA Pro-Assistant Pro Championship Monday at Colonie Golf & Country Club.
Trey Kingston aced the third hole with a 7-iron at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Also at Schenectady Municipal, Steve Lukowski holed out with a 7-iron on the 145-yard sixth hole.
Amsterdam High School graduate Shane Kisielis, now playing for the Methodist College golf team, aced the 186-yard sixth hole at the Methodist University Golf Club with a 6-iron.
Bill Bailey chipped in from 50 yards on the second hole for an eagle at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
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