AMSTERDAM — Local amateur golf legend Dan Russo won his first Amsterdam City Championship back in 1981. Still going strong 40 years later, he commemorated that anniversary this past weekend by adding another win to his long list of accomplishments, and hitting a couple of milestones in the process.
Russo, now 63, shot 6-under par over the two-day tournament Saturday and Sunday at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course to win his record-tying seventh City Championship, matching the mark set by Bob Cantine. He also became the first player to win the title in four different decades.
“I don’t believe it’s been 40 years,” Russo said in a phone interview, “but it’s been 40 years. Another old man award.”
The veteran golfer, who grew up playing at Amsterdam Muni, won the first five of his titles in the 1980s and 1990s. He eventually stopped playing in the event while a member at Antlers (now Rolling Hills) Country Club, before the event was discontinued after 2008.
When it came back under new club professional Kevin Canale in 2019, Russo was back at the top of the field with his sixth title in a third decade, and this weekend he put his name back on the plaque one more time.
“I played pretty well for both days,” Russo said. “A couple of hiccups, but pretty good for both days.”
For Russo, the win came barely a week after his second-straight win at the New York State Senior Amateur and only a few days after playing in the NYS Amateur at his current home club of Schuyler Meadows. It was another accomplishment for the most decorated amateur golfer in the Capital Region, but there’s always something special for the Hagaman resident about winning at the course where everything started for him.
“It’s always good to go back home and win,” Russo said. “That’s for sure. That’s where I grew up, so it always holds a special place for me.”
Canale acknowledged that Russo’s presence in the field meant that the tournament had a clear-cut favorite heading into the 36 holes of action.
“He was obviously the favorite coming in, with his background,” Canale said. “I don’t want to use the word ‘intimidating,’ but when he’s in the field I think people know that they’ve got to play their best to try to beat him.”
On the whole, fields were strong for the weekend event with 17 golfers in the championship flight, eight in the senior division, four in the super senior division and nine in the women’s division.
In addition to Russo’s victory in the championship flight, Jay Hoefs had the top net score in that flight, Mike Arminio had the low gross score in the senior division to take a second consecutive title with Mark Karpinski and Greg Semione tied for low senior net, John Wall took the super senior title with the low gross score while Phil Santoro had the low net, and Ying Li Kuwahara took the women’s championship with Barb Bramer and Kim Brumley tied for the low women’s net.
Since bringing back the tournament, Canale said he’s been pleased with the public response and registration numbers.
“People were definitely excited to play in it,” Canale said. “There’s no doubt about it. A lot of people signed up early.”
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