Down the Fairway: Lazzari using love of game for charity

The late Joey Lazzari Jr., left, and his father Joe Lazzari were strong advocates for the Schenectady City Mission, which will hold a Charity golf tournament in Joey’s memory at Mohawk Golf Club on Sept. 12. (Photo provided)

The late Joey Lazzari Jr., left, and his father Joe Lazzari were strong advocates for the Schenectady City Mission, which will hold a Charity golf tournament in Joey’s memory at Mohawk Golf Club on Sept. 12. (Photo provided)

Joe Lazzari, the cycling policeman, knows all about mission and service.

After four years of active duty in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, 26 years as a Schenectady policeman and a stint as a security officer at the Stratton Air National Guard Base in Glenville, Lazzari’s passion to give back to his community is unquestioned.

But he and his family have also devoted many decades of service to the Schenectady City Mission. Although he’s only played golf “seriously” for about five years — 12 years overall — he’s using that newly found love for the game to help his favorite charity.

Lazzari, 73, has recently joined Mohawk Golf Club, and that prestigious Niskayuna layout will host the ninth annual Golf with a Mission Tournament, in memory of his son, 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/.

Lazzari, his wife, Susan, and their children, the late Joey Jr., retired fireman Mike, Theresa and Matt, have all been extremely involved in Schenectady good works and charity for many decades. Lazzari was a street cop for 24 years before becoming a detective. That’s where he began the department’s bike patrol.

“It was my niche,” Lazzari said. “We put together the first bike patrol in 1995. I rode 36,000 miles in six years, and I loved every minute of it. It’s a tough job out there. Some guys work out with weights, but I worked out athletically on my bike.”

Susan, an Ellis Hospital emergency room nurse for 42 years and a two-time Nurse of the Year there, is a former member of the Schenectady County Legislature. Both Joey and Michael Lazzari played basketball at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons for Herb Crossman. Michael, also an Air Force veteran, ran the NYC Marathon, 26.2 miles, in full fireman gear, including the air tank on his back, for six hours to raise money for the Wounded Warrior project after 911. He raised more than $40,000.

But Joey Jr., a longtime member of the 109th Airlift Wing Air National Guard Unit, died unexpectedly last year at just 45 years old.

“He was going to be a fireman, but it just didn’t work out,” Lazzari said. “He was working for a meat packing company in New York City, and he would drive his truck from Duanesburg to NYC three times a week after loading it with half-frozen cows. He was his own boss, and he said lifting all that beef by himself kept him in shape. Joey wasn’t just my son. He was also like a brother to me. He loved his family and he was a great kid. God took him from us too early, but our faith has kept us going.”

It was City Mission executive director Mike Saccocio who suggested that this year’s City Mission Golf Tournament be named after Joey Lazzari Jr.

“The money has been pouring in so far, and it’s one of the highest amounts of donations they’ve received at the City Mission,” Lazzari said.

Joe Lazzari Sr. was a natural athlete. He played center field for the legendary Don Blaha on the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons baseball team, and he also played a couple of years of football before he got hurt.

It was during his long run with the Schenectady police department that he first got to know the Schenectady City Mission.

“Being on the streets, I got to know a lot of people,” he recalled. “I can truly say that when I came across a homeless person, my first thought was to bring them to the mission. Seventy-five percent of the people I brought there turned out for the better. I would say Mike Saccocio is a gift from heaven. He’s changed so many lives.”

Lazzari, who recorded an eagle and made the cut in the super senior division of the recent Schenectady Senior Classic at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, has spent countless hours at the mission trying to help out.

“I’ve gone to the City Mission every holiday to help out as much as I can, and I donate as much as I can. We know what they do and where the money is going,” he said.

“Joe has a long history, even as a police officer, of bringing people who need help to the mission,” said Saccocio. “After he retired, he became a great volunteer. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, he would serve coffee and help out. He and his wife, Sue, have become great friends to the mission. When his son, Joe Jr., passed away, we wanted to both celebrate his life with an opportunity for a memorial, but also to celebrate the Lazzari family’s service. The City Mission is honored to have their name connected to ours.”

CHIP SHOTS

Nolan Crowley of Siena College and Saratoga Golf & Polo Club tied for 17th place (2-over-par 286), Jim Gifford of Mohawk Golf  Club finished tied for 22nd (5-over-par 289) and Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook GC finished 44th (17-over-par 301) at the 99th annual NYS Men’s Amateur Golf Championship, hosted by Onondaga CC this week. Those three players were the only Capital Region players among the roughly 25 challengers to make the 36-hole cut.

The first Charity Skins Game for the benefit of the Schenectady Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs will be held Tuesday at Mohawk Golf Club. Former No. 1 player in the world David Duval, whose father and late grandfather were Schenectady residents and golf legends; Blaine McCallister, Fred Funk and this year’s Senior Open champion Darren Clarke are competing. Tickets are $40. For more information, go to the Schenectady Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs website bgcschenectady.org.

Albany CC head pro Glenn Davis was 7-over-par for 36 holes and then won a playoff to capture the Northeastern New York PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship last week at Glens Falls CC. Ian Breen of Saranac Inn G&CC and Terry Manziano of Saratoga Spa Golf Course also shot 7-over-par and tied for second.

Burden Lake CC head pro Justin Hearley won the individual professional Stableford contest at the Pro-Lady Pro-Am at Ballston Spa CC. He collected five birdies.

Maria Glavin won the Van Schaick Island CC Ladies Club Championship recently with scores of 82 and 75 for a two-day total of 157. Charlee Kennedy was second (85-84-169).

Section II champion Brayden Dock, 15, of Queensbury won the Hiland Golf Club Men’s Club Championship with scores of 70, 70 and 69 for a 7-under-par 209 total. He won by 15 shots.

The next major tournament on the NEWGA schedule is its Gail Purdy Best Two Balls of Four Championship Monday at The Edison Club.

Van Patten Golf Club will host the inaugural Cooley Kill Cash Classic 2-Player Scramble on Oct. 11. More than $7,500 in cash and prizes will be awarded. The scratch event has an entry fee of $125 per player or $250 per team. There will be a 10 a.m. shotgun start. First place will be $1,500. There are numerous contests and giveaways included.  Call the Van Patten GC pro shop at 518-877-5400, ext. 306 for more information.

Van Patten GC’s Club Championship is set for Saturday and Sunday with starting times beginning at 8 a.m. An official handicap is required. Entry fee is $150 per player ($50 for members) and includes a small range bucket and cart. Call Van Patten GC to register.

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.

The former Evergreen Country Club in East Greenbush, closed for many years, is now open and called Olde Post Road Golf Club.

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.

The Albany FireWolves’ “The Pack Gives Back” annual golf outing will be held Sept. 26 at Normanside CC. There will be a 9:30 a.m. shotgun start for the four-person scramble. Entry fee is $600 per foursome and includes breakfast, snacks on the course and a dinner/cocktail reception after golf. For more information, call 518-362-4900 or go to www.albanyfirewolves.com.

HOLES-IN-ONE

At Hales Mills Country Club, Dan Szabo used an 8-iron for a hole-in-one on the 11th hole.

Also at Hales Mills CC, Mike Morris holed out with a 9-iron on the eighth hole.

Joe Imperial aced the 115-yard seventh hole with an 8-iron at Van Patten Golf Club.

Charles Frazier used a pitching wedge for his hole-in-one on the 110-yard seventh hole at Briar Creek Golf Course.

Also at Briar Creek, Dave Newvine aced the same seventh hole with a 50-degree wedge.

At Schenectady Muni, Joe Daley, father of head pro Matt Daley, aced the third hole celebrating Matt’s brother’s Jeff’s 30th birthday.

EAGLES

Subbing in the Ballbusters league at Stadium Golf Club, John Fuelner eagled the dogleg-left par-5 16th hole with a 4-wood approach shot and a 10-foot putt.

Dave Quivey posted an eagle-2 on the par-4 11th hole at Schenectady Muni.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].

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