Down the Fairway: Barlette looks to defend NEWGA championship

Rachel Barlette of Shaker Ridge Country Club hoists the trophy after winning her first NEWGA Championship last year at Pinehaven Country Club. (Bob Weiner photo)

Rachel Barlette of Shaker Ridge Country Club hoists the trophy after winning her first NEWGA Championship last year at Pinehaven Country Club. (Bob Weiner photo)

Defending Northeastern Women’s Golf Association champion Rachel Barlette is hoping she finally has some much-needed momentum as she tries to defend her title against a loaded field Tuesday and Wednesday at Colonie Golf & Country Club.

The 34-year-old longtime member of Shaker Ridge Country Club, who recorded her first major victory in last year’s NEWGA Championship with a playoff win over Pat Mayne, wasn’t playing up to her standards so far this season. But she feels rejuvenated after enjoying a breakthrough earlier this week.

“I played in a NEWGA tournament [Monday] and finally really had a great round,” said Barlette of her play during the annual Gail Purdy Two Best Balls of Four Championship at Glens Falls Country Club. “I was concerned that the event might get canceled because of the rain but the conditions were great up there. I’ve gotten down on myself lately because I thought my scores haven’t been what they were last year, but my play in the tournament boosted my confidence.”

Although Barlette had been knocking on the door in recent years, she wasn’t able to break through as a major tournament winner until last year’s surprising extra-hole win over Mayne, a three-time NEWGA champion who boasts numerous area and regional victories on her resume.
When Barlette is on her game, her driver gives her a big edge over most of her opponents.

“Definitely my driver is my most important club,” she explained. “I’m a longer hitter, and it helps me set up a really good hole if I have a big drive off the tee. My driver enables me to have some good opportunities to score.”

When Barlette struggles, it’s the short stick that fails her.

“The putter comes and goes. It’s the weakest part of my game,” she admitted. “I have hot days and definitely some cold days, but I’ve been working hard and practicing so I can secure that part of my game.”

Barlette pointed out that playing club events, or even team events in NEWGA, is quite different than competing in medal-play tournaments.

“Tournament play is so different. The nerves, the total awareness of what is going on and even the strict rules play a role,” she pointed out. “For example, there are no gimmies on the greens. You’ve got to putt everything out. I’ve been working on becoming better with my mental game, and I’ve been playing in more tournaments. I think I’m stronger now mentally. Winning last year’s tournament, especially in a playoff, was not easy on my nerves. Now, I’m a little more comfortable in those situations.”

Barlette will be one of nine single-digit handicap players in the field. That’s up significantly from recent seasons.

“It’s going to be a very strong field,” Barlette said. “There are a lot of great women in this event, and I’m relatively new playing in tournament golf.”
Before last year’s NEWGA Championship victory, Barlette’s biggest individual win was the Shaker Ridge CC club championship in 2015. Her career-best score is a 1-over-par 73.

“Individual medal play is a whole different aspect of the game compared to best-ball events or scrambles,” Barlette said. “There aren’t a lot of individual tournaments out there for the women, and any time there is one, I try to enter if I can. Playing in those kinds of tournaments really improves your game.

“Golf is truly a game of misses. There are very few rounds when everything comes together and clicks. Usually, I’m struggling with something and trying to compensate for it. It’s a challenge trying to piece it all together.”

Barlette carries a handicap index of 7.2. The other players with single-digit handicaps are Heidi Harkins of Ballston Spa CC (3.9), former NEWGA champion, NYS Senior Women’s titlelist and two-time Gazette Women’s Amateur winner Susan Kahler of Ballston Spa CC (4.8), former NEWGA champ Ella Kellogg of Glens Falls CC (5.6), former NEWGA winner Kathy Harkins of Ballston Spa CC (7.2), former Schenectady Women’s Classic victor Mary Scatena of Pinehaven CC (5.5), Schenectady Women’s Classic winner Laura Couch of Mohawk Golf Club (8.4), Nan Lanahan of Pinehaven CC (8.6) and seven-time NEWGA champion and former NYS Senior Women’s titlist Nancy Kroll of Schenectady Municipal Golf Course (8.8).

CHIP SHOTS
The Edison Club hosts the Northeastern New York PGA’s Senior Professional Championship with 36 holes in one day on Wednesday. Two qualifying spots will be up for grabs for the PGA Senior Professional Senior Championship October 15-18 at the PGA Golf Club in Port Lucie, Florida.

Town of Colonie Golf Course will host the Northeastern New York PGA’s Drive, Chip and Putt sub-regional Aug. 22. The top three players from each age division of the local qualifiers advance to this round.

RPI head golf coach and Shaker Ridge CC member Jamie Jackson of Cohoes shot rounds of 68 and 69 for a 1-under-par 137 two-round total at Wiltwyck Golf Club to earn a spot into the U.S. Amateur at Oakmont Country Club.

Pat Mayne of Western Turnpike and Karen Feldman of Olde Kinderhook shot a 2-under-par 70 to capture the senior division of the NYS Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship Friday at Lakeshore Yacht & Country Club. Michelle Krasodomski of The Edison Club and Debra DiMaggio of Ballston Spa CC won the open division’s low net title with a 6-under-par 66.

Applications for the Schenectady Senior Classic, set for Aug. 5-6 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, are still being accepted through July 31. Entry fee is $50 per player. There will be a cut after the first round. Net prizes will also be available for those with USGA handicaps. Tom Salmon is the defending champion. Contact Schenectady Municipal Golf Course at 518-382-3155 for more information.

The 34th annual Shaker Ridge Invitational is set for Aug. 27-29 at Shaker Ridge Country Club. The tournament consists of four scratch divisions of two-man teams with a maximum field of 60 teams. Teams will be flighted after the first 36 holes. Applications close Aug. 19. Entry fee is $470 per team. Jim Gifford and Jim Welch are defending champions in the Championship Division. Tony Hejna and Matt Clarke teamed up to win the Senior Division a year ago, and Gary Grimaldi combined with Chris Nachtrieb to win the Super Senior Division. For more information, contact the pro shop at 518-869-5101.

Van Patten Golf Club’s Three Tee Challenge will be held Aug. 7, with starting times beginning at 1 p.m. Entry fee is $75 per player. Players can choose their tees but they must play six black tees, six white tees and six silver tees. Contact Van Patten GC or more information at 518-877-5400.
Also scheduled for Aug. 7 will be the Schoharie County Amateur Open at Cobleskill Golf & Country Club. Sponsored by Mohawk Honda, the event will feature an Open Division (blue tees), Men’s Division (white tees), Senior Division (age 55 and older), Super Senior Division (silver tees), Women’s Division and Senior Women’s Division, as well as a Junior Division for players under 18. Gross and net prizes will be awarded. Entry fee of $48 includes golf and cart. Contact Cobleskill G&CC (518-234-4045) for more information.

The 30th annual John C. Daly-James W. Michaels ALS Memorial Open, to benefit the ALS Regional Center, returns after a year off because of the COVID pandemic. The popular tournament, with a new scramble format, will be played Sept. 22, with a rain date of Sept. 29, at Van Patten Golf Club. There will be only one squad this year at 10:30 a.m. Cost per foursome is $760. In the previous 29 seasons, this tournament has raised $2.3 million for the ALS Regional Center. There will be several special live-auction items available, including a New Year’s weekend in Chicago and tickets to the Bears vs. New York Giants game, as well as an exclusive New Year’s Eve party at a high-end hotel. Entry forms will be mailed out in early August.

The City of Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course has set its rates for the remainder of the season. All prices include unlimited play along with a $5 cart trail fee per round. Kids under 18 play free anytime on weekdays and on weekends after noon. Single adult season tickets are $625, and senior single adult season tickets are $600. Young adults from age 18-29 will pay $275 for their season tickets, while an adult couple will pay $1,000. The course also announced a Kids Day Clinic on August 9 at 9 a.m. and the City Championship will be contested on Aug. 14-15. For more information, contact Amsterdam Muni head pro Kevin Canale at 518-842-6480.

HOLES-IN-ONE

At Eagle Crest Golf Club, Tom Peters aced the 123-yard third hole with an 8-iron.

Clyde Driggers used a 9-iron on the 135-yard second hole for his second career hole-in-one at Mechanicville Golf Club.

Mike Martin recorded his fifth career ace on the 170-yard third hole at Hiland Park Country Club. He used a 4-hybrid.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].

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