Down The Fairway: Consistent Welch earns recognition

Jim Welch is the ultimate grinder, the kind of guy who fights for every par he can get.



Jim Welch is the ultimate grinder, the kind of guy who fights for every par he can get.

Although he seldom receives the respect he deserves as one of the Capital Region’s most consistent golfers, he moved into a select circle last weekend.

Welch, a 44-year-old Valatie resident who plays out of Winding Brook Country Club, became the area’s fifth New York State Mid-Amateur champion last week when he survived a four-man playoff at Dutchess Golf & Country Club.

He shot a 74 in the opening round of the 28th annual event and a one-over-par 71 in the final round last Sunday. His par on the first extra hole was good enough to earn the Robert Hogan Memorial Trophy.

Despite loads of golfing accol­ades, Welch’s name rarely comes up when discussing the best players in the region. That’s probably because his swing is a little out of the ordinary and maybe not as pleasing to the eye, but he’s a solid ball-striker with a phenomenal short game. He is easy to recognize because he’s usually pulling his golf cart behind him.

“It is what it is,” he said about not receiving all that much publicity through the years.

“There’s nothing too fancy about my game, but when I’m playing well, I’m relatively consistent. I can play on most types of courses, and when I’m playing my game, I can play fairly well. It’s never overly fancy with me, but I can put the ball in the hole. I’m a competitive person, and I can battle. When I’m playing well, I usually can stay in the thick of things, no matter how tough the course is.”

A great example of his ability to play well on challenging courses was his play in the New York State Amateur earlier this summer at Oak Hill Country Club. Welch was one of the leaders for the first two rounds before faltering in the sweltering heat of the final round.

“It’s funny, because at Oak Hill, I wasn’t playing that well, but I was scoring well with smoke and mirrors,” he said. “In the State Mid-Am, I was actually playing better than I scored. On the first day with that 74, I didn’t make any putts for birdies and I lost a ball on the 17th hole. It was a bad break, because it was just in the rough, but we couldn’t find it. That rough was really heavy, because they couldn’t cut it with all the rain.

“On the second day, I had a double-bogey coming in on the 14th hole, but that was a tough course. I had some birdie opportunities, but nothing fell. I really feel I can shoot in the 60s if I’m playing my game, but I just had one bad hole coming in each day.”

Welch’s golf resume is one of the best around. He twice won the Tri-County Golf Association Match Play Championship and captured three Troy Invitational crowns. He’s a two-time winner of the Eagle Crest Shootout, and also won the Edison Invitational.

“Every once in a while, everybody struggles. That’s golf,” Welch said. “But this year, I’ve played well in all of the state tournaments.

Other years, I’ve played badly in the state events, but not this year.”

Welch was a two-time All-American at Skidmore College, where he won a half-dozen individual colleg­iate tournaments.

“I played well in college, but when I was 23 to about the time I was 30, I didn’t play much golf at all, maybe one tournament a year,” he said. “I got into other things. But when I turned 30, I got back into it, and I’ve enjoyed it ever since.”

Welch said you will seldom see him riding in a cart, unless it’s a two-man tournament.

“Once in a while, I’ll jump into a cart, but I prefer to walk. I like the exercise, and it helps me to keep my rhythm,” he said.

Welch, who won the Tri-County Partners Championship with Dave Pallas last year, will be trying to

defend that title next Sunday at Olde Kinderhook. Meanwhile, he and Pallas will be playing in this week’s Haggerty Two-Man at

Schenectady Municipal.

By the way, four other local players have won the State Mid-

Amateur. Charlie Murphy, then playing out of Wolferts Roost Country Club, won the inaugural event in 1984. Former McGregor Links Country Club standout Cliff Earle won in 1993, while Matt Clarke of the Country Club of Troy took the title in 2005. John Vaccaro, who

like Murphy has also recently moved out of the area, won in 2007.


Chuck Connolly will try to

defend both the New York State Senior Amateur and the New York State Super Senior Amateur titles Tuesday through Thursday at Vestal Hills Country Club.

The tournament was postponed because of flooding in the Binghamton area.

Connolly has won the state

seniors championship three times, and is one the top senior players in the area. He is probably best known for dominating the Eastern New York Golf Association’s weekly tour. He also has more than 20

individual club championships

and has 10 holes-in-one to his credit.

Joining Connolly at Vestal Hills will be James Peters of Leatherstocking Golf Club, Ralph Maru of Van Patten Golf Club, Bruce

Oswald of Shaker Ridge Country Club, John Buono of Burden Lake Country Club, Robert Huntz of Glens Falls Country Club, Jim

Cocca of Shaker Ridge Country Club, Bruce Barach of Mohawk Golf Club, John Reagan of Western Turnpike Golf Club, Ken Brown of Orchard Creek, Robert Hatch of Glens Falls Country Club and Bill Kent of Cobleskill Golf & Country Club.


The schedule is winding down, but there are still quite a few events for amateurs and professionals this month.

High school players will be competing in the High School Invit­ational today at Schuyler Meadows before entering into sectional play. On Wednesday, the Class A sectionals will be at Town of Colonie Golf Course. Class B will be hosted by Antlers Country Club, while Class C-D will be played at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.

The top players from the class events will advance to the Class ABCD Playoffs Oct. 11 at Orchard Creek. The best players from that tournament advance to the state qualifier on Oct. 13, also at Orchard Creek.

Meanwhile, amateurs will play in the Tri-County Partners Championship Saturday and Sunday at Olde Kinderhook, as well as the CRAGA Points Challenge Oct. 11 at the Country Club of Troy.

Local club professionals have the Assistants Match Play Championship Tuesday and Wednesday at Colonie Golf & Country Club, the NENYPGA Points Challenge at the Country Club of Troy Oct. 11 and the Challenge Cup against the Central New York PGA on Oct. 13.


u Victor Fox of the Bethlehem High School team shot a five-

under-par 30 in a match with Col­umbia at Normanside Country Club last week. Fox had six birdies and one bogey.

u Stadium Golf Club’s Falling Leaves Tournament will be held Oct. 22 with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. The two-person scramble has an entry fee of $75 for non-members and $65 for members. The entry fee includes golf with cart, range balls and a hot and cold hors d’oeuvres/ buffet following play. Top prize will be $450 for low gross and $450 for low net, based on a full field of 72 teams. The top six gross and net teams will cash. Call Stadium at 374-9104 for more information.

u Albany Country Club will host the Senior-Junior Amateur Invit­ational Saturday and Sunday. The format will be Four Ball scratch, with one senior, age 50 or older, and one junior under 50 playing as a team. There will be a 1 p.m. shotgun start on Saturday and tee times beginning at 8:15 Sunday morning. Entry fee is $250 per team. Call

Albany Country Club at 765-2854 for

more information. Bruce and Chris Barach won last year’s event.

u The Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League will hold a scramble golf tournament Oct. 10 at Hiland Golf Club. One Phantom player or staff member will be assigned to each threesome. The tournament begins at 12:30 p.m. Entry fee is $400 per threesome, and includes golf, cart, hors d’oeuvres and prizes. Call 480-3355 for more information.

u Airway Meadows Golf Club’s 13th annual Oktoberfest tournament will be held Sunday. There will be a 9 a.m. registration and continental breakfast, followed by the tournament. Entry fee is $93 for non-members, and includes golf, cart, lunch at the turn, kegs of beer, wine and soda from noon on and a steak, chicken and pork dinner. There will be two gold memberships for the 2012 season given away. Call Airway Meadows at 792-4144 for more information.


Derek Moss of the Fab 8 league aced the 135-yard 15th hole with a 9-iron at Van Patten Golf Club.

Also at Van Patten, Brad Van

Auken of the Country Knolls West league holed out on the same 15th hole with a 4-iron from 135 yards.

At Mohawk River Country Club, Dave Ryder used a 4-wood to ace the 205-yard eighth hole.

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