Like many of her peers, Niskayuna resident Susan Kahler misses the usually busy summer golf tournament schedule. All of the state championships have been canceled, and most of the regional invitationals have met the same fate because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet the Northeastern Women’s Golf Association, the region’s premier tournament organization for amateur women, remains a viable option for those players who enjoy testing their games outside of their usual casual foursome or club events.
NEWGA, which began in 1929, has members from 24 area clubs. The organization didn’t schedule any tournaments in June, and only one or two in July, but August is loaded with major events, and Kahler is up for the challenge.
“I guess the only good thing about missing so many tournaments is saving money,” Kahler joked. “One thing, though, is that I’m blessed to be a golfer during this time. A lot of people can’t do the things they like during this pandemic, but at least the golfers can play.”
Kahler teamed up with fellow Ballston Spa Country Club member Heidi Harkins recently to win the annual NEWGA Gail Sykes Best Ball Championship at Shaker Ridge CC with a gross score of 73. NEWGA also held a tournament last month in memory of Kahler’s good friend, the late Suzie Mansfield, who lost her battle with cancer. Kahler and Mansfield were one of the best tandems in local women’s team tournaments.
“So many of our normal tournaments or invitationals were canceled,” Kahler said. “Even in Western Massachusetts, where a lot of us play some tournaments, many of them were canceled. I normally play at Taconic and in Pittsfield, but those tournaments were canceled. I did play in one member-guest last week, but there aren’t a lot of them out there right now.”
Fortunately for NEWGA members, there are plenty of events scheduled in August and beyond, including the Gail Purdy Brophy Better 2 of 4 Ball on Wednesday at Wolferts Roost Country Club, the Two-Player Scramble Aug. 11 at Canajoharie Country Club, the NEWGA Championship Aug. 19-20 at Pinehaven Country Club, the Four-Person Scramble at Copake Country Club Aug. 27 and the 66th annual Peggy Enos Senior Championship Sept. 1-2 at Columbia Golf & Country Club.
Kahler is the defending champion in the NEWGA Championship, that organization’s premier event. She’s won it twice to go along with a New York State Women’s Senior Amateur crown, two Gazette Women’s Amateur titles, 21 club championships at Ballston Spa Country Club and numerous best-ball partners trophies, mostly with Mansfield.
Always one of the area’s most consistent women’s competitors, Kahler was taught the game by her father, who still plays at age 91.
Kahler, a native of Rome, graduated from Rome Free Academy and studied at St. Lawrence University before settling in the Capital Region. She retired last year, giving her more time to practice, and ironically, to compete in more tournaments, if there were more of them to enter.
“I would say the best part of my game is that my tee shots are fairly consistent,” said the sweet-swinging 61-year-old who has served on the Ballston Spa CC board of directors in numerous capacities, including as the greens committee chairperson. She also has served in many NEWGA leadership positions such as scheduling chairperson, president, and first vice president.
“I try to give back to the game,” she said.
As far as her own game is concerned, Kahler rarely makes major changes. She’s been using the same faithful putter for decades.
“I’ll never change my putter, but I did buy three new irons last fall, and that really helped my iron play,” she said. “My ball flight was dramatically different before, and I’m happy with the change. My approach shots and iron play have always been the things that suffer the most in my game. My tee shots, my chipping and my putting are always my strengths. I try to be consistent.”
Don’t be surprised to see Kahler near the top of the leaderboard at the upcoming NEWGA Championship.
“I’m really looking forward to playing the NEWGA Championship at Pinehaven CC,” she said. “We were supposed to have the state seniors there this year, but it got canceled. It’s a good layout.”
Kahler has a career-low round of 69 to go along with three holes-in-one — two at Ballston Spa CC and one at Teugega CC in Rome.
Cobleskill Golf & Country Club hosts the third annual Schoharie County Open Aug. 8 with tee times starting at 8 a.m. Both club members and non-members are welcome to play. There will be four different flights: Open Division (blue tees), Men’s Division (white tees), Senior Division (silver tees, age plus handicap must equal 85) and Women’s division (red tees). This is a gross tournament. Contact Cobleskill G&CC at 518-234-4045 to reserve your spot or to get more information.
Van Patten Golf Club has announced three special tournaments for the month of August. On Aug. 8, the Three Tee Challenge will be played with tee times beginning at 1 p.m. There will be gross and net scoring, and handicap is required. Players will play six holes each on the black, white and silver tees. Cost is $75 per player ($30 for members).
Also at Van Patten will be the 27-hole Iron Man Tournament on Aug. 22, with tee times starting at 1 p.m. Golfers play all 27 holes. There will be gross and net scoring again. Cost is $90 per player ($40 for members). The Van Patten Club Championship is set for Aug. 29-30, with tee times starting at 8 a.m. each day. Cost is $125 per player ($50 for members). All entry fees include cart and a small bucket of balls. Contact Van Patten at 518-877-5400 for more information.
Northway Golf Center teaching professional Terry Manziano shot a 76-70-146 to win the Northeastern New York PGA Senior Professional Championship this week in a three-man playoff at The Edison Club. Battenkill Golf Club head pro Dal Daily also shot 146 (75-71), as did Catskill Golf Club head pro Brian Lowe (74-72). Manziano birdied the first playoff hole, and Daily had a par. Both qualified for the Senior PGA Professional Championship in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Host head pro Chris Sanger (2-under-par 68, tied for 3rd, $710) and Normanside CC assistant pro Justin Hearley (69, 8th, $250) topped the local pros at this week’s Woodstock Open at Woodstock Golf Club. Battenkill’s Daily finished second in the senior division (74, $400). The local pros head to Normanside CC on Monday.
The two-day Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play Championship concludes today at Schuyler Meadows Club, weather permitting.
Patrick Derenzo of Glenville used an 8-iron for a hole-in-one on the 120-yard ninth hole at Briar Creek Golf Course.
Also at Briar Creek, Joe Caywood of Guilderland holed out with a 7-iron on the 145-yard fifth hole for his ace.
PJ Bazanos aced the 149-yard ninth hole with a pitching wedge at Pinehaven Country Club.
During an NENY PGA Junior Tour event at Normanside Country Club, Ben Fox aced the 17th hole.
Dick Skinner, a 50-year member of The Edison Club, had a day to remember last weekend when he knocked his 170-yard approach shot in the cup for an eagle on the sixth hole. The 82-year-old Skinner, who was playing with Al Nebolini, Bill Seward and Tim Dugan, finished his round with a birdie on the 27th hole to shoot a 79.
Bob Cantine eagled the 10th hole en route to shooting below his age with a 72 at Rolling Hills at Antlers Country Club.
Also at Rolling Hills, Anthony DiMezza had two eagles in the same round on the first and 12th holes.
Ed Menard eagled the par-5 11th hole with a driver, 5-iron and putt while competing in the KAPL league at Mohawk River Country Club
At Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, Brendan Krol holed out for eagle from 57 yards with a lob wedge after belting a 280-yard drive with a 3-wood on the eighth hole.
Emma VanDeCar eagled the 26th hole at The Edison Club.