AMSTERDAM — Last August, former Amsterdam Mayor Mario Villa was granted a lifetime, no-cost membership to Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course by the city.
Now, at the urging of several former members of the city’s Golf Commission and approval by the Common Council, his dedication to the course will have a permanent reminder.
On Friday, the 98-year-old Villa was presented with a steel plaque that will be attached to a large boulder next to the golf clubhouse entrance, adjacent to the site’s flagpole and another monument dedicated to the golf course’s creator, former Mayor Arthur Carter in 1934.
“Next to Jesus and my family, I have had the happiest moments of my life here.” Villa said. “I’m unaccustomed to being appreciated.”
Villa served two terms as mayor from 1980-87 and another term from 1991-95.
He said there are life lessons in each round of golf.
“You come up here full of anticipation at the No. 1 tee, and you just want to play your heart out and you find out that it doesn’t work out that way,” Villa said. “On the golf course, you can hit great shots, you get on the green and you can’t sink a putt and that’s what you contend with. Life is a series of ups and downs, successes and failures.”
The golf commission presented the common council with the idea of memorializing Villa.
“[Former golf commission member] Bob [Kosineski] came up with the idea. He said here is a guy that dedicated everything, he was responsible for all these trees that we put in and was completely dedicated to the golf course.” said Vito ‘Butch’ Greco, another former golf commission member. “Bob came up with the resolution and the idea that we should honor him in some way and came up with the idea of a plaque.”
There was unanimous support from the golf commission.
“[The commission] were all in agreement that what he did for the course — put the cart paths in, made so many improvements, kept the course up, played it,” Kosineski said. “We thought, after all these years, that he deserved it.”
Villa said his best rounds are behind him — shooting a 69, his best score at the course in his 60 years of playing, followed by shooting a 71 from the white tees at the age of 75.
Friday added another highlight to his career as a public servant and avid golfer reflecting on the plaque that reads, in part, “Mr. Villa’s leadership as Amsterdam city mayor and as a public citizen has helped shape the vision of our course for decades.”
“My vocabulary isn’t sufficient to express just exactly how I feel, and we’ll leave it at that,” Villa said.
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