A youthful Siena College men’s golf team appears to be in top form just in time for this weekend’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship at Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Siena winds up tournament play Sunday.
The Saints, who last captured the MAAC title back in 2016, hadn’t won a regular-season tournament title since 2007-08, but they pulled off a mild upset by winning the Hartford/Gillette Ridge Invitational at the Gillette Ridge Golf Club last week in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Siena shot a 20-over-par 308 in the 18-hole event to edge MAAC rival Fairfield by 10 strokes and Trinity College by 11.
Siena accomplished that feat without two of its top players, senior Jack Brown and sophomore Nolan Crowley from Saratoga Springs, who sat out the regular-season finale.
“We’ve been playing some good golf — not just for the last 18 holes,” said Siena head coach Steve Jensen, also the head pro at Schuyler Meadows Club in Loudonville. “It was nice to see the guys compete very hard on a very hard golf course and play some really good golf.”
Sophomore Jack Tobin shot an even-par 72 to win individual medalist honors for the first time in his career to lead the Saints. Junior Brody Yates fired a 77 to tie for third place, while freshman Jack Hamilton was sixth with a 79. Senior Pudge Williams carded an 80 to tie for seventh, while sophomore Matthew Ferrari rounded out Siena’s five-man competition squad with an 83 for 16th place.
Jensen was asked how difficult it is in team golf to get all your players clicking at the same time.
“In some of the tournament formats, when you are playing in fivesomes, it can be good and bad,” he explained. “For example, in the last tournament, a couple of our players hit their ball in the water on the same hole. That can lead to some bad momentum. But we’ve been fortunate to be very consistent this year.”
Jensen said this year’s team is very deep and has what it takes to contend for a championship. One of his top players is Crowley, a former Section II standout who earned his first MAAC Golfer of the Week award this season.
“Nolan is probably one of the hardest workers on the team,” Jensen said. “He flies under the radar. Boy, does he swing the club well, and he’s just now finding out just how good he can play in the college game. I think his ball-striking is his strength, and knowing how far each club goes.”
Jensen likes how steady his lone senior plays.
“Jack Brown is solid across the board,” Jensen noted. “You can never tell whether he makes a birdie, a bogey or even a double bogey. He keeps his cool and has been a steady player for us as a starter for four years.”
Tobin finally broke through last weekend.
“Jack is one of those rare golfers that you are fortunate to get a chance to coach,” Jensen said. “He just plays the game. He can hit it badly on the range, but it doesn’t matter. Once he’s out on the course, he just plays his own game, and he thinks very little. He plays by feel.
“I think those three guys have a good shot at probably winning the individual championship and maybe give us a chance at winning the team championship. In my [six] years of coaching this team, we’ve gone to the MAAC championship four times, and we’ve never finished worse than fourth. I think this year’s tournament will be very close. It will be a barn-burner, with teams like Rider, Fairfield and Iona providing a lot of competition.”
Jensen really knows the game. The 2016 MAAC Men’s Golf Coach of the Year has been the head pro at Schuyler Meadows Club for 25 years. He was the 2005 NENY PGA Teacher of the Year, and won the 2004 NENY PGA Junior Golf Award for instruction.
Previously, Jensen served as the first assistant at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and also was an assistant pro at Washenaw CC in Ann Arbor, Michigan (1990), Sailfish Point Golf Club in Hutchinson Island, Florida (1988 and 1999), Rockaway Hunting Club in Lawrence (1999), New York, Montclair Golf Club in Montclair, New Jersey (1985 and 1987) and Laurel Valley Club in Ligonier, Pennsylvania (1986).
Among his most noteworthy playing accolades were victories in the 2005 NY Eastern Pro-Senior Championship, the 2003 Hole-in-the-Wall Pro Championship and the 2003 NENY PGA Pro-Pro Championship after carding a 66.
Also competing in the MAAC championship this weekend are the Siena College women’s golf team and the UAlbany women’s golf team, which will be defending its title. The Great Danes won the trophy in both 2018 and 2019. Last year, there was no tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pioneer Hills Golf Course head pro Keith Sprenger and Battenkill Country Club head pro Dal Daily combined for a best-ball score of 6-under-66 to capture the season-opening Northeastern New York PGA Pro-Pro Tournament at Wiltwyck Golf Club in Kingston. The duo split $950 and beat out a field of 15 tandems. Next up on the NENY PGA schedule is the Pro Classic No. 1 Monday at Pinehaven Country Club.
The Eastern New York Golf Association, a senior-dominated weekly tour/league that is one of the largest and oldest in the Capital Region, tees off its season Wednesday at Normanside Country Club.
The 12-man Capital Region Amateur Golf Association team for the 2021 Challenge Cup against the Northeastern New York PGA club pros May 27 at Schuyler Meadows Club has been finalized. The team, chosen off the CRAGA point list over the last two seasons, is led by Dan Russo, followed by Chad Stoffer, Ben Bates, Lance Hope, Joe Fitzsimmons, David Hayes, Alex Bringsjord, Griff Hunter, Jim Mueller, Dave Mooradian, Ryan Davis and Travis Koch. The event was canceled last year because of the pandemic.
Airway Meadows Golf Club hosts the 15th annual Knights of Columbus Tournament May 15 with an 8:15 a.m. shotgun start. Entry fee is $110 per person and includes cart, Continental breakfast and a grilled London broil and chicken lunch with sides. Contact Peter Riggi (518-695-4577) for more information.
The Holland Meadows Ladies Golf League organizational meeting will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the 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.
Columbia Golf & Country Club will host its Women’s Invitational June 28 with a two-person best-ball format, pre-flighted by handicap. The field will be limited to 48 teams. Entry fee is $80 per player. Contact the pro shop (518-854-9894) for more information.
There will be a meeting for the Couples League at Hales Mills CC on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Canajoharie Golf & Country Club will hold its second annual Women’s Invitational with a two-person Shamble format on July 23. Entry fee is $150 per team and includes golf, cart, Continental breakfast, buffet lunch and cash prizes. There is a limit of 40 teams. Maximum handicap index is 36. For more information, contact the club at 518-673-8183.
According to league secretary Mike Wright, the Maqua Major league, which plays Friday afternoons, is the oldest current golf league at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. Last week’s column on the Handicappers league stated that the Van Vranken league was the oldest, followed by the Handicappers loop. Wright points out that the Maqua Major league began in the late 1930s and, despite a brief hiatus in the early 1940s, has continued to compete for more than 76 years. Joe Rogerson has been a league member for 47 years. Many league members worked for local newspapers and other printing companies as pressmen. Looks like Muni has had more than its share of long-running successful leagues.
Denise Mattrazzo registered her first hole-in-one with a 9-wood on the 120-yard 11th hole at The Edison Club.
At Mechanicville Golf Club, Dom Fruscio posted an eagle-2 on the par-4 first hole with a driver and pitching wedge, while Anthony Fiaco drove the par-4 12th hole and sank the eagle putt.
Bob Karutis eagled the par-5 10th hole, and Mike Zumbolo eagled the par-4 seventh hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].