Down the Fairway: Recalling Haggerty’s influence on golf in Schenectady

The late Bob Haggerty Jr. was head pro at Schenectady Muni for 37 years. Local players pay tribute to the legendary pro when they compete in the annual Haggerty Two-Man Classic next month. (Photo provided)
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The late Bob Haggerty Jr. was head pro at Schenectady Muni for 37 years. Local players pay tribute to the legendary pro when they compete in the annual Haggerty Two-Man Classic next month. (Photo provided)

The late Bob Haggerty Jr., who served brilliantly as head pro at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course for 37 years, was one of my absolute favorite people.

We worked together running the Schenectady Classic, formerly the Gazette Men’s County Amateur, as well as other three tournaments the Daily Gazette sponsored at one time, for roughly 20 years. It was always a pleasure to be in his presence, whether it was while listening to his stories, watching him give lessons, helping him run our tournaments or observing him play the game he loved with a deep passion.

Current Muni head pro Matt Daley, one of Haggerty’s many assistants who went on to become head pros, is helping to keep Bob’s name alive with the very popular Haggerty Two-Man Classic, set for Oct. 1-2 at Schenectady Municipal. Entry fee is $380 per team and includes, golf, cart, a lunch buffet Saturday and a dinner buffet Sunday. The format is better ball both days. Teams will be flighted after the first round. There is an open flight, a senior flight (age 50 and older) and a new super senior flight for players 70 and older. There will be a 9 a.m. shotgun start both days. Ben Bates and Greg Podgorski won the event last fall.

There are so many Haggerty stories that can be retold, but Daley recalled one of his saddest memories of his good friend and mentor.

“Towards the end of his time here, he was under the cancer diagnosis given to him, and he was playing a round with Chris Bentrovato and Paul Jaycox [both former assistants]. When they got to the 15th hole, Bobby hit a driver onto the green and made the putt for a birdie. He got very emotional. He felt that would be the last time he would ever birdie that hole. Shortly thereafter he passed away,” Daley recalled.

Another great story Daley recounts is when the fiery Haggerty, playing with Matt, Peter Andrikopoulos and Angelo Menagias, watched Andrikopoulos make an unbelievable birdie on the par-5 12th hole. Andrikopoulos hit his drive well right onto the 11th fairway. He tried to hit his second shot over to the 10th hole to avoid the pond in front of the championship tee on hole No. 11. But he pushed his shot even further right, and it ended up almost back on the fairway of the first hole. Andrikopoulos had about 180 yards left with a direct route over two fairways, but somehow reached the green and then sank a 30-foot birdie putt. Haggerty, who rarely missed a fairway, was so frustrated with his playing partner’s near miraculous birdie that he promptly put his putter in his bag and drove back to the clubhouse in disgust.

The only problem was that he left Daley out on the course without his own clubs that were on Haggerty’s cart. So Matt finished the round walking and using Andrikopoulos’ and Menagias’ clubs.

My favorite story of Haggerty was when I played in a pro-am with him and some other media friends during the Hall of Fame weekend at Leatherstocking Golf Club in Cooperstown. Haggerty was on fire that day and made birdie after birdie for our group. We ended up winning the tournament, and all of us won new Titleist golf bags. For many years after that, Bobby would turn to me and ask if I remembered how I got my Titlelist bag, and all I could do was respond, “Yes, I do remember pro. You were unbelievable that day.” He would always just smile back at me with that impish grin.

The NENY PGA Hall of Fame member was an extraordinary player who won both the NENY PGA’s Stroke Play and Match Play championships. He had a soft spot in his heart for junior golfers and always conducted one of the best junior programs in the area. And his sense of humor was outrageous. I’ll never forget him.

MOLL TRIPLE PLAY

Another fine partners tournament named in honor of a great deceased golfer and good friend of mine is the fifth annual Bill Moll Triple Play Championship Oct. 10 at Eagle Crest Golf Club.

Bill Moll, a former pro and one of the classiest and best-dressed guys around, was one of the finest players in the Capital Region and remained extremely competitive well into his 60s. He not only won several Eagle Crest GC club championships, but also captured numerous local major tournaments, including three Schenectady Classic crowns and five Schenectady Senior Classic titles.

This unique 27-hole event in his honor begins at 8:30 a.m. with nine holes of a two-person scramble, followed by nine holes of a two-person alternate shot. After a break for lunch, there will be a re-pairing for nine more holes of two-person best ball. Teams may consist of two amateurs or one pro with one amateur. Entry fee is $240 per team with optional skins of $60 per team ($20 per format). Entry deadline is Oct. 3. Make checks out to Eagle Crest Golf Club, 1004 Route 146A, Clifton Park NY 12065.

NYS MID-AM SET

The New York State Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship, for players 25 and older, will be held at Seven Oaks GC in Hamilton Friday through Sunday. More than 80 Capital Region standouts are entered.

Some of the most noteworthy competitors  include three-time Schenectady Classic champion Ben Bates of Niskayuna, former NYS Mid-Amateur titlist Matt Clarke of Loudonville, two-time Schenectady Classic winner Bob Cooper of Glenville, former CRAGA Stroke Play champ Joe Fitzsimmons of Latham, multiple Saratoga County Amateur champion Jim Gifford of Ballston Lake, Mohawk Golf Club standout Brandon Haase of Schenectady, two-time NYS Senior Men’s Amateur champion Dan Russo of Hagaman, former Schenectady Classic titlist Aaron Simone of Niskayuna, former Tri-County Match Play and CRAGA Stroke Play champion Chad Stoffer of Niskayuna and former NYS Mid-Amateur champion, multiple Troy Invitational champ and multiple CRAGA Stroke Play winner Jim Welch of Valatie.

CHIP SHOTS

Two-time defending champion Dan Russo finished in a four-way tie for second place with a 6-over-par 148 in the NYS Senior Men’s Amateur this week at Springville CC. Kevin VandenBerg of Beaver Meadow GC won by nine shots with a two-day total of 139. David Fizer of Ballston Spa CC tied for 10th at 151. In the Super Senior Division, Bill Paulsen of Eagle Crest GC was 17th (155) and Bob Cooper of Glenville was 19th (158).

Former Niskayuna High School standout Jimmy King was recently named the Liberty League Performer of the Week in men’s golf after winning the individual title and leading St. Lawrence to a victory in the SLU Invitational. King shot rounds of 73 and 71 for an even-par 144 over the two days for medalist honors.

The next major tournament on the NENY PGA schedule is the Match Play Championship Tuesday and Wednesday at Wolferts Roost CC. The field is comprised of the top 16 from the Player of the Year Points list. Currently, Burden Lake CC head pro Justin Hearley is No. 1 on that point list, followed by 11-time Player of the Year Scott Berliner of Eagle Crest Golf Club.

The Saratoga National Golf Club 13-year-old all-star team coached by pro Anders Mattson won the Region 2 championship and a trip to the National Car Rental PGA Junior League Championship Oct. 6-9 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. The team consists of Hayden Knapp (Gansevoort), Jeffrey Fumarola (Ballston Spa), Katlynn Smith (Palenville), Mason LaTorre (Nassau), Ryden Klatt (Glenville), Tanner LaTorre (Nassau), Vinny Romano (Clifton Park) and Wyatt Dolinsky (Saratoga Springs).

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.

Colonie Golf & Country Club is holding the 10th annual NewsChannel 13 Capital Region Golf Championships Oct. 1. There are gross and net divisions. Entry fee is $65 per golfer per division. Tee times begin at 8 a.m. For more information, contact Colonie G&CC at 518-765-4100 or visit www.coloniegolfandcountryclub.com.

Van Patten Golf Club’s inaugural Cooley Kill Cash Classic is set for Oct. 7. More than $7,500 in prizes will be up for grabs in this scratch two-player scramble. Entry fee is $125 per player and includes golf, contests and food. Top prize is $1,500 ($750 per player). For more information, call 518-877-5400.

HOLES-IN-ONE

At Western Turnpike Golf Club, Roseann Rogers collected her third career ace on the 125-yard ninth hole on the red course.

Greenwich High School golf team member Jordan Young aced the 185-yard first hole with a 5-iron at Battenkill Country Club.

EAGLES

Tom Keeler registered an eagle-2 on the seventh hole at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.

 

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].

Categories: Sports, Sports

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