With limited tournament opportunities in this season of COVID-19, and only sparse time to practice, Chad Stoffer desperately needed a tune-up for his golf game. So the 48-year-old Niskayuna resident visited his favorite swing mechanic, Mill Road Acres head pro Peter Gerard.
Stoffer, a former Union College quarterback who plays out of Town of Colonie Golf Course, hopes the tweaks to his game will help him play his best when he defends his championship in the annual Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play Championship — generally considered the area’s premier event — next Saturday and Sunday at Schuyler Meadows Club.
“I’ve been struggling more with the driver, and I’m working on that,” Stoffer said. “I’ve made an equipment change there, and I took a lesson. I’ve been working with Peter Gerard for 20 years, and he’s a very good instructor. He jives with how I learn. When I’m off, he gets me back on track quickly.”
Last year, Stoffer shot a 3-under-par 69 in the final round to hold off two-time Schenectady Classic champion Ben Bates for the title with a two-day total of even-par 144. Former event champion Joe Fitzsimmons of Colonie was third.
Stoffer has a strong resume in local and regional amateur events. He’s won a pair of Tri-County Match Play titles, has been runner-up in the Schenectady Classic numerous times and also qualified for a berth in the USGA Four-Ball Championship a few years ago at Pinehurst.
But like so many local players, he hasn’t had much area tournament competition because of the pandemic.
“I’ve been playing, but I have not been playing with regularity and not practicing at all,” Stoffer said. “It’s kind of hit or miss right now. I’ve had some good days and some bad days. This weekend, I’m going over to play in the Berkshire Hills Singles, and then I’m looking forward to playing CRAGA again. From what I understand, [Schuyler Meadows] has softened up a bit because of the recent rain. It’s a great field, and you’re going to have to play very well to win.”
The CRAGA Stroke Play Championship will once again have an all-star field. Former champions besides Stoffer and Fitzsimmons include Dan Russo of Hagaman and Jim Welch of Winding Brook CC.
Russo, 62, is the area’s all-time leader in major championships among amateurs with 18. He’s won the CRAGA Stroke Play event a record eight times to go along with two Tri-County Golf Association Stroke Play trophies, five Tri-County GA Match Play victories, two Troy Invitational crowns and one Times Union Amateur Championship.
Russo, winner of six Amsterdam City titles and three Edison invitationals, also won his first state title with the NYS Senior Amateur last fall. He’s appeared in 11 USGA Championships.
Welch, a Skidmore College grad, is a multiple Troy Invitational titlist, a multiple Tri-County Match Play winner and a New York State Mid-Amateur champ among his many trophies.
Other notables include Jim Mueller of Orchard Creek, who has won eight Schenectady Classic banners and four Schenectady Senior Classic trophies; former Troy Country Club standout Matt Clarke, who won a NYS Mid-Amateur crown; former Troy Invitational winner and multiple Schenectady Classic runner-up Lance Hope; RPI golf coach Jamie Jackson; former Schenectady Classic champs Mike Wheeler and Tom Salmon; former Bethlehem High School standout Austin Fox; CC of Troy standout Dave Mooradian; former multiple Saratoga County Amateur winner and perennial local tournament contender Jim Gifford and David Hayes of the host club.
A total of 39 players are entered.
A SAD FAREWELL
The recent death of former Daily Gazette golf columnist/reporter Mike Dyer, 81, and his wife, Carol, was a shocker and a big blow to all Capital Region golfers who knew him.
Dyer, who was living in Sun City Center, Florida, was in charge of the Daily Gazette’s golf coverage from 1986 to 1988, when yours truly took over the position. He also covered the Albany Patroons and was a copy editor for the Daily Gazette.
After his stint with the Daily Gazette, the Hofstra graduate became a sportswriter and columnist at the Troy Record, where he mainly covered golf and bowling, but also covered the Albany River Rats hockey team. He also worked for the now defunct CapitalAreaGolf.com website.
Dyer, from Forest Hills, was also a former sports reporter and columnist for the Times Union, the Long Island Daily Press and the Times Herald-Record before moving to the Capital Region and working for the Daily Gazette. He was an avid baseball card collector and trader, a huge New York Mets fan, and wrote two sports books.
Dyer was a sportswriter for 47 years. He was a longtime member of the Baseball Writers Association and had a Hall of Fame vote for almost all of his years in the business. He covered the Mets, New York Yankees, New York Jets, New York Knicks and New York Islanders, among his many major pro sports beats and was well known for his strong opinions and his remarkable work ethic that included showing up to events he was scheduled to cover five hours early.
I bowled with Mike in the Daily Gazette league, I worked with him and I worked the same beats when he moved on to the Troy Record. I even bought several set of baseball cards from him.
He will be missed.
Stockbridge Golf Club head pro Steve Mazzariello shot a 2-under-par 68 to win the Northeastern New York PGA Pro Classic at Saratoga Golf & Polo Club this week. Tied for second with 69 were The Edison Club teaching pro John Neet and Normanside CC assistant pro Justin Hearley. John Durcan, a PGA Life Member, won the Legends Division with a 72. Local senior pros will be competing in the senior Professional Championship Wednesday at The Edison Club.
Although there won’t be a regular Symetra Tour CDPHP Open this summer, after the LPGA developmental tour postponed the event last May because of COVID-19, there will be a CDPHP pro-am on Aug. 28 at Capital Hills at Albany. Thirty-two Symetra Tour players will join four-person amateur teams for an event that will offer a $20,000 purse for the professionals.
Airway Meadows Golf Club will host an Adult-Junior Scramble Aug. 16. There will be a 9-hole divisions for the juniors age 13 and under, while the juniors from 14-17 will play 18 holes. Contact Airway Meadows for more information at 518-792-4144.
The Ballston Spa Country Club tandem of Sue Kahler and Heidi Harkins shot a 73 to win the overall low gross title in the Northeastern Women’s Golf Association Gail Sykes Better Ball of Two championship at Shaker Ridge Country Club last week. Heidi Glazier and Mary Scatena of Pinehaven CC won low net with a 64. Pat Mayne and Sue Chambers of Western Turnpike took low gross in the first flight with a 78, while Heather Morrison and Jennifer DiIorio off Burden Lake CC took first flight low net with a 67. The next NEWGA event will be Thursday with its Mixed Two-Player Scramble at Windham Country Club.
Paul Toth aced the third hole at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course for his first hole-in-one.
Bob Federico used a 9-iron for his hole-in-one on the 130-yard second hole at Mechanicville Golf Club. It was his second career ace.
Americo Pallante eagled the par-4 seventh hole at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course by holing out with a pitching wedge from 95 yards.
Jim Rogers eagled the par-5 11th hole at Mohawk River Country Club by reaching the green with a 5-iron on his second shot and making the putt.
At Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course, Pete Bennice eagled the par-5 third hole, Chris Kelly eagled the par-5 10th hole and Mike Arminio eagled the par-4 17th hole.