The next time you step on the first tee at scenic Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, tip your hat to course superintendent Mike Scesney and his outstanding staff. Then, when you’re finished having another enjoyable round, and you’re heading to the 19th hole, tip it once again.
Scesney and his crew are the ones who keep Muny in fabulous shape — so fabulous, in fact, that the course was given a four-star ranking as one of the best places to play by Golf Digest from 2004 to 2008.
“It’s definitely an enjoyable place to play,” said Scesney, 49. “The architecht here did a nice job of mixing in the elevated tees and elevated greens. It’s one of the busiest courses in the area.
“We kind of came in on the ground level when they were first trying to improve the course. When we first got here, it was a little run down and not maintained that well. Everything we did was an improvement, and it got better and better. Now, we’re hoping in the next few years to do some more improvement in the bunkers, with the tees and with our irrigation system.”
No. 1 on Scesney’s wish list for course improvements is an automated irrigation system. Despite his success keeping the course in excellent shape, the manpower involved is tremendous.
“Luckily, we have an outstanding crew. They are an experienced and dedicated crew. It’s a real team effort,” Scesney said. “I would say the toughest part of my job is dealing with our irrigation system.
“Currently, we have a manual irrigation system. Most of the other courses have an automated system. It takes us 16 hours to water our course, right now. With an automated system, it would take eight hours or less. That’s a lot of man hours and labor.”
Scesney said his staff of eight or nine men have their hands full keeping Muny in top form.
“Overall, the fairways when we first got here were 90 percent weeds. They’ve come a long way with our growth regulators. So have the greens. We’ve also done quite a job with our tree management. We’ve taken down and cleared a lot of trees on the property.”
Scesney is proud of the wildlife on the course, which helps turn the course into a sanctuary of sorts for both the golfers and the animals.
“We do have a lot of wildlife here, and we are in the process of getting certified as an Audubon sanctuary,” he said. “We have plenty of bluebird nesting and increased naturalized areas. We also have a family of coyotes, plenty of turkeys, red foxes, rabbits and squirrels, among other animals. We enjoy the interaction we have here with the wildlife.”
A native of Green Island, Scesney started in the golf business very early by helping his father, who was the course superintendent at Van Schaick Island Country Club in Cohoes for 30 years.
“He was my mentor,” Scesney said. “I started out in the business by working in the VSI pro shop in the back room as a club cleaner and bag boy. When I was 15, I started working out on the course by helping my father.”
Scesney eventually moved to Cohoes and attended Cohoes public schools, including Cohoes High School. He attended Hudson Valley Community College before getting a job as an assistant course superintendent at the Country Club of Troy. He took a short course on turf management at the University of Massachusetts, and came back to the CC of Troy as a course assistant before taking over as the head greenskeeper for five years.
In 1989, Scesney started his own company, called Northeast Turf & Irrigation.
“We did everything that had to do with a golf course, like construction, installing irrigation systems, rebuilding bunkers and renovating greens,” he said. “We even had the contract here at Schenectady Municipal.
“While I had the business, I hired a superintendent named Dave St. Onge to work under me, and I had another super working for me until I downsized my business a few years ago and took over as the head superintendent myself. I still have the company, but we only do specialized work now. I spend all my time here.”
Scesney used to play the game quite a bit himself, but he’s so busy now that he doesn’t tee it up until late in the season, around October or early November. He tries to stay in touch with other superintendents by attending meetings of the Northeast Golf Course Superintendents Association, and plays occasionally in some of their events.
“I guess we’re doing a pretty good job, knock on wood, because we don’t get too many complaints,” Scesney said. “We trying to get the money to do some more course improvements as part of the overall plan for the golf course, but for now, things are going well.”
Sign up early
Entries for the annual Gazette County Amateur Golf Championship were beginning to trickle into the office this week. Entry deadline is June 12.
Entry fee this year is $45. Only Schenectady County residents are eligible, unless you are a past champion. There will be a cut to the low 40 and ties for the second round, and another cut to the low 20 and ties for the final round. This is a scratch tournament, but include handicaps in your entry for pairing purposes.
As has been the case for the last several years, all groups will start play on the first hole.
Robby Bigley Jr. is the defending champion.
The next stop on the Albany Golf Tour will be June 6 at Saratoga Lake Golf Course. Tee times begin at 11 a.m. The format will be two-person best ball. Registration closes Wednesday. For more information, call Dan Smith at 452-0550. ext. 16.
Fifteen additional golfers have earned full exemptions into this year’s U.S. Open Championship, to be played June 17-20 at Pebble Beach Golf Links. There are now 78 fully exempt players into the tournament. The exemptions were awarded to players in the top 50 of the official World Golf Ranking, as well as to players in the top 10 money leaders from the PGA Tour and the top five money winners on the PGA European Tour. Leading the additional exempt golfers are Anthony Kim, Robert Allenby and Camilo Villegas. Sectional qualifying will be held June 7 at various sites around the country. Trying to earn berths from the Capital Region qualifier will be Shaker Ridge Country Club assistant pro Scott Berliner, Skidmore College standout Chris DeJohn and former Wolferts Roost Country Club assistant pro Tye Grissom.
The 43rd annual Haggerty 2-Man Championship will be played June 12-13 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. The first round will have an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start, with a players’ party following play. The final round will have an 8 a.m. shotgun start, with light fare and an awards ceremony following play. Championship, men’s open and senior division teams will be flighted after the first round. There also will be daily skins games. Call Schenectady Municipal at 382-5155 for more information.
The 20th annual ALS Memorial Golf Tournament, one of the largest charity tournaments in the Capital Region, will be held June 20 at Van Patten Golf Club. Last year’s event raised more than $101,000 to the ALS Regional Center at St. Peter’s Hospital. Over the previous 19 years, more than $800,000 has been raised. All participants will have an exclusive raffle offer to earn a spot in the Lexus Champions for Charity National Championship, featuring 18 holes at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and The Links at Spanish Bay. Each raffle ticket is $100. For more inforomation, contact the John C. Daly & James Michaels ALS Memorial Golf tournament, 319 South Manning Blvd., Albany, NY 12208.
Left-hander Harry Morgan shot his age, a one-under-par 71, from the blue tees at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course this week.
The Amsterdam Cal Ripken league’s 11th annual Amsterdam Youth Baseball fundraiser golf tournament will be held June 11 at 12:30 p.m. at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course at Upper Van Dyke Avenue in Amsterdam. Entry fee is $90, and includes lunch, greens fees, cart, prime rib dinner, beverages and a golf giveaway. For more information on entries or sponsorship opportunities, contact Chris Fedullo (842-5722), Lou Fedullo (843-0158) or Steve Conti (843-8276).
The New York chapter of the Association of Government Accountants is co-sponsoring a charity golf tournament to benefit the Albany Medical Center Children’s Hospital Friday at Van Patten Golf Club. Entry fee is $80, and includes golf, cart, continental breakfast and a hot and cold buffet lunch. An awards ceremony will follow. Contact Brian Gee at 486-4248 for more information.
Pros from the Northeastern New York PGA will compete in the Pro Classic No. 2 at McGregor Links Country Club on Tuesday.
Stan Ziobrowski shot his age (76) in the senior league at Ballston Spa Country Club.
The next big event on the Northeastern Women’s Golf Association schedule will be the Ringers Tournament at Van Schaick Island Country Club on Tuesday.
Local amateurs also have a major event on Tuesday with the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Classic No. 1 at McGregor Links Country Club.
Fox Run Golf Club will host the next Eastern New York Golf Association tournament on Wednesday.
The Habitat for Humanity Schenectady County’s Help Build It! Golf Tournament will be held June 18 at Mohawk Golf Club. Cost is $150 per person or $460 per foursome, and includes golf, cart, prizes, breakfast, snacks and a barbecue after the tournament. Registration is 7:30 a.m., with an 8:30 shotgun start. For more information, call the Habitat for Humanity office at 395-3412 or Katherine Wolfram at 280-4285.
James Smith holed out with a 7-iron on the 180-yard 12th hole at Stadium Golf Club.
At Van Patten, Robert Barber aced the 145-yard 17th hole with a 7-iron.
Dave Holland sank a pitching-wedge shot on the seventh hole for his hole-in-one at Briar Creek.
At Rolling Hills at Antlers, Bill Betts aced the 16th hole with a driver.
Mickey McMahon found the cup with an 8-iron on the 151-yard 11th hole at Orchard Creek Golf Club.
Also at Orchard Creek, Mark Kritz aced the 160-yard eighth hole with a 7-iron.
Ron Coleman collected a hole-in-one at The Edison Club by using a 6-iron on the 170-yard 13th hole.
At Hales Mills Country Club, Calvin Wright’s 5-wood shot found the cup for an ace on the 149-yard 11th hole.
At Van Schaick Island County Club, Mike Zablocky posted his fourth hole-in-one with a 3-iron on the 199-yard sixth hole.
Eric Donato eagled the par-4, 365-yard 12th hole by holing out with a pitching wedge from 125 yards at Van Patten Golf Course.
Corbet Johnson holed out with a 7-iron for an eagle-2 on the par-4 fourth hole while competing in the Media league at Stadium Golf Club.
Also at Stadium, Mike Cremo posted an eagle-2 with a driver and 8-iron on the third hole during play in the Mongrels league.
During an outing at the Stone Hedge Country Club in Tunkhannock, Pa., Dennis Cherubin eagled the 303-yard, par-4 eighth hole with a 75-foot chip shot from the fringe.
At Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course, Gabe Sasso eagled both the third and 10th holes, Pete Zabo eagled the third hole, TJ Sumigray eagled the fifth hole and Jim Geiger eagled the 10th hole.
Mike DiDiomenico and Heath Dunn, two golfers on the same team playing in the Frog Island league at Mechanicville Golf Club, both eagled the par-4 16th hole. They each used a driver and chipped in for eagle on their second shots.