Down the Fairway: Handicappers league celebrates 70 years

The current roster for the Handicappers league, which plays Wednesday afternoons at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. The league, the second-oldest in Schenectady, is celebrating its 70th season.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The current roster for the Handicappers league, which plays Wednesday afternoons at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. The league, the second-oldest in Schenectady, is celebrating its 70th season.

The Handicappers league at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course is not just for average Joe’s, as its name may indicate. In fact, some of the best players in the county have teed it up in this historic group.

The league, which originally began at the now-defunct Stanford Golf Course at Mohawk Commons in 1951 before shifting to Schenectady Muni two years later, is celebrating its 70th anniversary this season. It’s the second-oldest loop in Schenectady, ranking just a year behind the Van Vranken League.

“I am the oldest consecutive member, approaching 35 years in the league,” said Fred LaMalfa, who serves as the league’s secretary, historian and photographer. “I have played with most of our members, [but] unfortunately, we have lost quite a few.”

LaMalfa pointed out that the Handicappers league has featured numerous talented players, many of whom have won area championships. For example, Al Nebolini is a three-time Schenectady County Senior Amateur champion, and Miner Deitz won the 1983 Schenectady County Senior Amateur title.

Other standout players in the league over the years include longtime head pro Matt Daley, and perennial County Amateur or Senior County Amateur contenders Mark Chylinski and his father, Bob, Mike Mina and Joe Monteparo.

Nick LaMalfa, Fred’s nephew, owns the most league titles with 10. Frank LaMalfa, Fred’s brother, also plays in the league. The group currently has 16 members but has had as many as 20 in past seasons. The guys play Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. and use a 20-point system with both match and medal play.

Muni’s gold-tee program for seniors, and the recent Play It Forward program, which promotes playing from the tee area that best suits your game, has kept many of the Handicappers members competitive, even as they approach 80 years old. Examples are longtime standout Tim Smith and Mike Krawczak and Joe Melideo.

“Our league has always taken our golf seriously and respected the game, but we always have fun and enjoy our friendships,” Fred LaMalfa said. “We travel at least once a year together for tournaments or a weekend golf experience. In so many words, it’s more than just a golf league. It becomes family.

“We have a few younger, good players, so let’s hope 70 more years is not out of the question.”

LOCAL COLLEGE LINKS UPDATE

University at Albany’s Megan Henry will be the lone graduating student-athlete when the Great Danes’ women’s golf team hosts Siena Sunday in its only home match of the season at Wolferts Roost Country Club.

Henry played a key role in both UAlbany’s MAAC Championship runs in 2018 and 2019, finishing third individually in 2018. The fifth-year player was second on the team, and 64th overall, at the Georgia State Invitational this season.

“From day one of Megan’s freshman year, she was bubbly, the team jokester and a visible leader,” said UAlbany head coach Colleen Cashman-McSween of the Epping, Essex (England), native. “She’s been a coach’s dream, as well as the glue to the program.”

Sophomore Nolan Crowley, a Saratoga Springs graduate, was named the MAAC men’s golfer of the week after placing second (2-under-par 142) at Sacred Heart’s 36-hole Spring Invitational at Great River Golf Club in Milford, Connecticut.

“Nolan has been working really hard on his golf game, and the results are showing on the course,” said head coach Steve Jensen. “This spring, he hasn’t been out of the top-20, and his recent finish shows that his game is ready for the MAAC Championship next week.”

The Union College women’s golf team, which went nearly 550 days since its last competitive round, won its first invitational title at William Smith last weekend at rain-plagued Clifton Springs Country Club.

The Dutchwomen carded a 353, 30 strokes ahead of SUNY-Cortland. Union golfers posted three of the top four scores and four of the top seven to earn their first tournament win in their nine-year history.

Sophomore Colleen Buckley led the way with runner-up score of 86, followed by junior Kiara Beckham (87) and sophomore Alexandra Cymbal (88), who recorded two birdies. Senior Juls Sweet was seventh with a 92.

CHIP SHOTS

Playing captain Dan Russo of Schuyler Meadows Club reports that eight players from the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association have confirmed that they will be playing in the annual Challenge Cup against the club pros from the Northeastern New York PGA at Schuyler Meadows on May 27. Joining Russo will be Chad Stoffer, Ben Bates, Lance Hope, Joe Fitzimmons, David Hayes, Alex Bringsjord and Griff Hunter. Each roster will be comprised of 12 players, who will compete in both individual and team match play. Last year’s event wasn’t held because of the pandemic.

The Northeastern New York PGA tees off its season with a Pro-Pro event Monday at Wiltwyck Golf Club in Kingston. It plays its first Classic event of the season the following Monday at Pinehaven Country Club.

Van Patten Golf Club announced a loaded junior golf program for this summer. The club will offer a Fundamental Introduction to Golf on July 13-14 or Aug. 17-18 from 1-3 p.m. at a cost of $60 for the two-day clinics. Van Patten GC also will feature a PGA Junior League team for players ages 8-13. Cost is $250 and includes a team shirt, several practice sessions and course fees. Private lessons are available for juniors beginning May 1 for $30, and a “Let’s Get Out on the Course” session will be available Aug. 26 or Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. each day for $30 each. Also available are girls’ clinic July 27-28 and Aug. 24-25 from 1-2 p.m. at a cost of $30 per class, and the Clifton Park Summer Recreation Golf Program July 5-7 (session 1 for ages 10-12), Aug. 2-4 (session 2 for ages 10-12), July 5-7 (session 3 for ages 13-16) and Aug. 2-4 (session 4 for ages 13-16). Contact Van Patten GC head pro Adam Panagopoulos (518-877-5400) for more information.

The Saratoga County Amateur Championship will be held June 25-26 at Eagle Crest Golf Club and McGregor Links Country Club, respectively.

The Holland Meadows Ladies Golf League organizational meeting will be held Tuesday, April 27, at 7 pm. At Holland Meadows Golf Course on Route 29. Dues will be $45 and will be collected at the meeting. New members are welcome. For more information, contact the golf course at 518-883-3318 or [email protected].

Briar Creek hosts the Michelob Light Tournament May 14. The four-person scramble will have a 9 a.m. shotgun start and includes golf, cart, Continental breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch at the turn and a buffet dinner. Cost is $75 per person. Call 518-355-6145 to register.

Pinehaven Country Club, a private course, is introducing two special offers to the public. The “Member for a Day” program is available on certain Mondays and Wednesdays until the end of October and advanced tee time reservations are required. Cost is $55 per person and includes riding cart. Meanwhile, the course will offer a 14-day trial membership for $200. Trial members will have full weekday access to the golf course, practice facilities and restaurant. Weekend and holiday golf access is limited to after noon. At the end of the trial membership, should you elect to join; the $200 will be credited toward your golf dues. For more information, contact club manger Scott Warren (518-456-7111, ext. 202).

The University at Albany announced that its Great Dane Athletic Club Golf Classic will be held June 3 at noon at Wolferts Roost Country Club. Members of the UAlbany coaching staffs will be on hand to meet and greet supporters at the event, which provides scholarships to UAlbany’s 500 student athletes. For more information, contact Justin Brown at [email protected].

HOLE-IN-ONE

Junior standout Kennedy Swedick used a pitching wedge for her hole-in-one on the 115-yard ninth hole at Ballston Spa Country Club.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].

Categories: Sports

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