Ballston Spa Country Club Director of Golf Todd Manderson’s No. 1 priority is to keep his 430 members happy. Considering he’s been at his current job for more than two decades, he must be shooting well under par in the hospitality department.
In an era when not many head pros stay in one place, the 55-year-old Utica native is in his 22nd season running tournaments, giving lessons and fine-tuning an award-winning pro shop.
An extremely talented player during his younger days, Manderson seldom competes in Northeastern New York PGA tournaments any more. He prefers to tee it up with his members while listening to some music and then downing a few beers.
“The favorite part of the job for me is being around people,” Manderson said. “I like to run golf tournaments and keep things organized. I still like to play, but mostly with my members. It’s still a passion, but I don’t play tournaments much. I played in my share over the years, though.”
Manderson graduated from Sauquoit Valley High School, attended Mohawk Valley Community College for two years and then earned a golf scholarship to Utica College. His first job in the golf business was at Skenandoa Golf Club, where he worked for five seasons.
Manderson spent two winters working at Grand Cypress in Orlando, Florida and at age 23 accepted his first head pro position at Sadaquada Golf Club.
“That’s one of the oldest golf courses in the country,” Manderson noted. “It’s a pretty cool place. Horace Rawlins, the very first U.S. Open champion, was the first pro there. He won the U.S. Open in 1895, and then took the head pro position there.”
Manderson moved to the Capital Region in 1999 and became the Ballston Spa CC head pro in 2000. At that time, he was quite a player, having earned a spot in the old B.C. Open on the PGA Tour three times. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment on the course was winning the Central New York PGA Championship at Vestal Hills CC after shooting rounds of 67 and 70 to win by a stroke.
He recalls one of his most frustrating competitive moments was in 1994, when he recorded 15 birdies in two rounds of the B.C. Open yet missed the cut.
“My father was following me around that day, and my brother, Wayne, was my caddie,” he noted. “It was either a birdie or a double bogey.”
In his first tournament in the NENY PGA section, he shot a 67 at The Sagamore Resort while being paired with the late Bobby Haggerty Jr. In just 34 career events he’s won six times and finished third twice with 18 top-10 finishes, according to the section’s archived career stats.
At one time, Manderson owned three course records — a 61 at Sadaquada GC, a 61 at Pine Hills in Frankfort and a 62 at Ballston Spa CC.
“I still prefer playing with my members,” he said. “When I play with them, I tell them just to relax and that I’m just another guy, but some of them get nervous playing with me. I understand.”
Manderson is extremely proud of his pro shop, which has helped earn him several merchandiser of the year awards in the section.
“When I first came here, I redid the pro shop. It was half the size it is now,” he explained. “I added some simple touches with the displays, and I livened up the atmosphere. I want to be proud of the pro shop. I don’t want it to look sloppy. I offer as many of the high-end brands as I can. Running the pro shop is an opportunity. Many head pros don’t run their own pro shop these days, but I look at it as additional income. It’s a lot of fun, and I always have a full house of product.”
Manderson, who also introduced indoor simulators to keep his members engaged in the game all year long, enjoys making the playing experience much more interesting for his members. He introduced live scoring via the Golf Genius app.
“Now, when our members are playing in an event here, they know exactly where they stand,” Manderson said. “When we have our club championships, the members can see who is playing well, and they can come over and watch and root their friends on.
“I have a tremendous membership here,” Manderson added. “Our members like to get involved, and they are extremely supportive. We have an excellent course here.”
JUNIORS IN SPOTLIGHT
Nineteen area youngsters will be competing in the NYS Boys’ and Girls’ Junior Amateur Golf Championship at Soaring Eagles GC at Mark Twin State Park in Horseheads Tuesday and Wednesday.
There will be two divisions for the boys — 18U and 14U — and one for the girls.
Locals in the field include Ryan Arp (Greenville), Charlie Blake (Saratoga Springs), Zachary Bruno (Queensbury), Kieran Cummins (Loudonville), NYS PGA Boys’ Junior champion Kellen Dean (Saratoga Springs), Connor DesJardins (Niskayuna), Section II champ Brayden Dock (Queensbury), Timmy Esmay (Albany), Jeff Fumarola (Ballston Spa), Maria Jackson (Ballston Spa), Sophia Jackson (Ballston Spa), Jimmy King (Niskayuna), 12-year-old Hayden Knapp (Gansevoort), Albany qualifier co-medalist Matthew McClenon (Niskayuna), Albany qualifier co-medalist Jayden Pabon (Ballston Spa), Jillian Rawson (Slingerlands), Trey Smith (Greenville), Samantha Van Rohr (Loudonville) and Zorah Williams (Troy).
Very sorry to hear about the fire that destroyed the pro shop and several motorized carts at Catskill Golf Club recently.
Albany’s Kennedy Swedick shot an even-par 73 in the opening round but then carded an 8-over-par 81 in the second round of qualifying to miss the cut by three shots at the 73rd annual U.S. Girls Junior Amateur Championship at The Club at Old Stone in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Schenectady Municipal Golf Course will host a golf fundraiser to celebrate the life of the late Wendy O’Connor, a former Niskayuna physical education teacher and president of the Parents and Teachers Organization at the Craig School, on Aug. 12. Entry fee is $125 per person and includes golf, cart, lunch at the turn and a buffet. The format will be a scramble with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. For more information, contact Jacquie (518-573-5480).
Pinehaven CC will hold its Folds of Honor HERO100 Golf Marathon Aug. 8. The event will raise funds which will provide scholarships for children or dependents of veterans who gave their lives or became disabled as a result of their service. Since 2007, Folds of Honor has awarded nearly 35,000 educational scholarships. Last year, Pinehaven CC raised $15,000. Head pro Brian Pierotti and assistant pros Tom Mattice and Andrew Kemp will be competing in the marathon with several Pinehaven CC members. Donations can be made either per hole or in one flat pledge. To pledge, Pinehaven CC members can scan their donation at several code areas around the course or anyone interested in helping this worthy cause can go to this link: http://www.foh.org/Pinehaven.
The first Charity Skins Game for the benefit of the Schenectady Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs is set for Aug. 16 at Mohawk Golf Club. David Duval, Blaine McCallister, Fred Funk and Darren Clarke are competing. Tickets are $40. For more information, go to the Schenectady Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs website — bgcschenectady.org.
Town of Colonie Golf Course will host the NENY PGA’s Senior Professional Championship on Friday.
NEWGA’s Gail Sykes Memorial Better Ball of Two Championship is set for Wednesday at Wolferts Roost CC.
The annual Schenectady Senior Classic is set for Aug. 4-5 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
The Debbie Fawcett Memorial, to benefit the Empire Youth Open and local scholarships for youth bowlers, will be held Aug. 6 at 9 a.m. at Cobleskill G&CC. It will be a four-man scramble. Entry fee is $125 a person and includes lunch at the turn and a dinner buffet after golf. For reservations, contact Chris Fawcett at 518-852-9372.
Schenectady Municipal Golf Course will host the 14th annual Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame Golf Tournament Sept 18. The format will be a modified four-person scramble. Entry fee is $420 per foursome and includes golf, cart, buffet and prizes. This event is named after SCSD Hall of Fame member Pete Famiano. Call Bob Pezzano at 518-346-9297 for more information.
Rotary Clubs from throughout the Capital Region are sponsoring the 24th annual Gift of Life International Golf Tournament Sept. 12 at Pinehaven CC. The tournament provides funding to bring infants and children to Albany Medical Center for pediatric heart surgery. For more information, go to Home (planmygolfevent.com).
Zach Cooke aced the 13th hole for his first career hole-in-one at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
At Cobleskill G&CC, Luke Morgenstein used a lob wedge for his hole-in-one on the 94-yard eighth hole.
PJ Riley recorded his first career hole-in-one with a 9-iron on the 135-yard second hole at Mechanicville Golf Club.
David Smith eagled the eighth hole on the blue nine at Western Turnpike Golf Club.
Anthony Fiacco eagled the par-5 eighth hole at Mechanicville Golf Club with a driver, 6-iron and lob wedge and then connected for an eagle-2 on the par-4, 260-yard 16th hole with a 3 hybrid and a putter.
While playing in the CYC Realty league at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, Matt Capovani collected his first career eagle on the par-5 16th hole.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].