Schenectady Municipal Golf Course assistant professional Chris Bentrovato enjoys his role as sidekick to head pro Matt Daley. It’s the perfect “Batman and Robin” relationship, as the two local club pros try to keep things running smoothly at the extremely popular and busy public course.
“His loyalty is unwavering, for sure, and that’s hard to find these days,” said Daley of his good buddy and colleague. “He’s stuck with me through thick and thin. He was the first person I called to work with me when I first got the job here. He worked with Bobby [the late long-time head pro Bob Haggerty Jr.] when I did. He’s a great kid. If I didn’t love the guy, I wouldn’t have him here.
“People like him and respect him. He does a good job for me, but also for all the players we have here. That goes without saying. He’s a rare breed these days. I’m very thankful to have him. The world needs more Chris Bentrovatos, for sure.”
Bentrovato, 42, knows what’s expected of him, and he always delivers. He never seeks publicity and is actually a little camera shy.
“The favorite part of the job for me is customer service,” said the Niskayuna High School graduate. “I always try to keep everyone happy and give everyone great service — even when we’re busy or stressed. I enjoy the camaraderie we have with all the people here. That’s what makes it worthwhile.”
Bentrovato’s favorite sport originally was hockey, but by the time he was 14 years old he taught himself how to play golf well enough to make the Niskayuna High School varsity team.
“I was always self-taught. I think [learning golf so easily] came about because of my hockey swing. The hand-eye coordination was natural for me,” he said.
“I played a lot with Ben Bates at Niskayuna. He was a year younger than me, but I grew up playing with Ben quite a bit. We played at Mohawk Golf Club, of course, and that was always a thrill. Ben would beat me a lot back then, and even a lot more these days when we get a chance to play,” Bentrovato said with a grin.
After high school, Bentrovato honed his skills at the Golf Academy of America in Orlando, Florida. His first job in the golf business was as an assistant pro for Mike Kucera at the Country Club of Troy for two years.
“Mike was a great professional to get going in the business with,” Bentrovato said.
Bentrovato then joined Daley as an assistant pro for the legendary Bob Haggerty Jr., a NENY PGA Hall of Famer who served more than three decades as the Muni head pro.
Two years later, Bentrovato learned more aspects of the golf business when he got a job at the prestigious Innisbrook Resort in Florida for 4 seasons.
“It was a great experience for me, and I met a lot of good people there,” he said.
Bentrovato reunited with Daley when he got the head job at Muni in 2013. The two pros have been working together ever since, except for a brief time during the pandemic era when Muni reduced its staff. Bentrovato worked a short time at Pinehaven CC before returning to Schenectady Muni.
“I try to focus on the day-to-day operations here,” Bentrovato explained of his job priorities “I love teaching, and it’s very rewarding to get someone to improve their game with lessons, but I really enjoy the daily operation stuff and staying on top of that.”
Bentrovato doesn’t play often during the normal golf season in the Northeast. He tries to play once a week with Daley when things aren’t too busy, and he sometimes gets to play with a few Muni regulars from time to time. “I’d rather serve the golfers during our season here now. In the winter, I have a lot more time to play,” he said. “I usually go down to Florida to visit some friends in Tampa.”
Bentrovato said his lowest career round was a 68 at the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course. “That’s the round I’m most proud of in my career,” he said.
He’s recorded three holes-in-one so far — one at Ballston Spa CC as a 17-year-old, one on the 12th hole at Mohawk Golf Club and one on the sixth hole at Schenectady Muni a couple years ago.
“I really enjoy working here,” Bentrovato said. “They say the grass is always greener. When I worked at Innisbrook, it cost $350 per round to play, but I don’t think you got any better service there than we try to give golfers right here.
“Matt’s been a great mentor and a good friend.”
STRONG LOCAL GROUP AT NYS MEN’S AMATEUR
With one more “last chance” qualifier remaining Sunday at Drumlins Country Club, the NYS Men’s Amateur Championship will have at least 24 Capital Region competitors when the elite event tees off Tuesday through Thursday at Onondaga Country Club.
The three-day championship is a 72-hole event, with a cut after 36 holes to the low 40 and ties, as well as anyone within 10 strokes of the lead. The remaining field will play 36 holes on Thursday.
Local contenders include Will Braxton of Saratoga Springs, Clarkie Carroll of Wilton, Anthony Cavotta of Saratoga Springs, Richard Christman of Albany, Nolan Crowley of Saratoga Springs, Dean Kellen of Saratoga Springs, Matthew Ferrari of Croton on Hudson, Aidan Fitzgerald of Albany, Jim Gifford of Ballston Lake, Paul Goetz of Clifton Park, David Ioele of Johnstown, Dan Ireland of Wynantskill, Thomas Kenneally of Ballston Lake, Clinton Lange of Albany, Tom McGinn of Saratoga Springs, Ryan Miller of Queensbury, Jim Mueller of Altamont, Joe Quijano of Troy, Ben Rublee of Troy, Ben Swartz of Hudson Falls, Brandon Tecler of Clifton Park, Louis Walsh of Ballston Spa, Andrew Weise of Clifton Park and Jim Welch of Valatie.
Although this region has had plenty of recent success in other NYSGA championship events for the men (NYS Mid-Amateur and NYS Senior Men’s Amateur), women (NYS Women’s Amateur and NYS Women’s Senior Amateur) and even the juniors, it’s been a long drought in the NYS Men’s Amateur. The last local player to win the NYS Men’s Amateur was Jay Gunning in 1986. He was living in Colonie at the time and later became a local club pro before moving to Florida.
Other area NYS Men’s Amateur champions include Joe Ruszas of Albany (1944), Billy Shields of Albany (1951, 1952, 1955), Rich Serian of Troy (1977) and Bill Boland of Troy (1983).
Kennedy Swedick of Albany and Kellen Dean of Saratoga Springs each advanced to match play at the Junior PGA Championships at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Palos Park, Illinois.
Former Siena College standout Kyle Downey earned one of three qualifying berths at last week’s U.S. Men’s Mid-Amateur local qualifier at Mohawk Golf Club.
Glens Falls CC hosts the NENY PGA’s Senior Stroke Play Championship Monday.
Next up on the NEWGA schedule is its Gail Purdy Best Two Balls of Four Championship Aug. 15 at The Edison Club.
Van Patten Golf Club’s 36-hole Club Championship will be held Aug. 20-21. An official handicap is required. The men will play from the white tees, seniors (50 and over) from the silver tees and women also from the silver tees. There will be gross and net divisions. Entry fee is $150 per player ($50 for members) and that fee includes a small range bucket and cart. Call 518-877-5400, ext. 36) to register or for more information.
The fifth annual Schoharie County Amateur Open Championship will be held Aug. 27 at Cobleskill G&CC with tee times beginning at 9 a.m. All amateur golfers are eligible to compete, regardless of residency. Competition will be divided into the championship division, men’s division, super senior division and women’s division. Cost will be $60 for non-members and $15 plus cart for members. Contact the pro shop at 518-234-4045 to register or for more information.
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 Friday. 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 Monday. 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.
Mohawk Golf Club will host the ninth annual Golf with a Mission Tournament, in memory of Joseph Lazzari Jr., on Sept. 12. Entry fee is $750 per foursome or $195 per individual and includes golf, cart, lunch and dinner. There will be registration and lunch at 11 a.m., followed by a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. A fellowship hour, silent auction and dinner/awards presentation will follow at 5 p.m. For more information, go to citymission.com./golf/.
The first Charity Skins Game for the benefit of the Schenectady Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs is set for Aug. 16 at Mohawk Golf Club. Former No. 1 player in the world David Duval, Blaine McCallister, Fred Funk and Senior Open champion Darren Clarke are competing. Tickets are $40. For more information, go to the Schenectady Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs website — bgcschenectady.org.
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.
Vitto Iuliano aced the 141-yard fifth hole with a 4 hybrid at Stadium Golf Club.
At Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, Dean Stringfellow notched his first career ace on the third hole.
James Sackett registered a hole-in-one on the 187-yard 10th hole with an 8-iron at Cobleskill Golf & Country Club.
Jamie Hall recorded her first hole-in-one on the 121-yard ninth hole at Pinehaven Country Club.
Also at Pinehaven CC, Ross Testa collected his seventh career ace on that same ninth hole.
PJ Riley eagled the 460-yard par-5 fourth hole at Mechanicville Golf Club.
Also at Mechanicville Golf Club, Shea Bromirski eagled that same fourth hole.
Neil Shapiro holed out for an eagle-2 on the first hole while competing in the Bugundi league at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Also at Schenectady Municipal, Joe Lazzari eagled the par-5 12th hole by sinking a 9-iron shot during the final round of the Schenectady Senior Classic.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].