Like most professional athletes, golfers often peak in their late 20s or early 30s.
Don’t tell that to veteran Colonie Golf & Country Club head pro Frank Mellet.
Known as a pro’s pro for his easy-going manner and attention to detail, both on the course and on the lesson tee, Mellet, at age 50, broke through with the best season of his career in 2010.
He won three major events — the two-day Donald Ross Classic at Glens Falls Country Club in a playoff, the Club Professional Championship at Hiland Golf Club and the Northeastern New York PGA Stroke Play Section Championship at The Edison Club.
Toss in the season-opening one-day “classic” victory at Saratoga Golf & Polo Club, and it’s easy to see why Mellet easily captured the NENYPGA Player of the Year Award.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Mellet, whose golf lessons have appeared in several area media for the last couple of years. “I enjoy competing and look forward to continuing to do so. To have a special year like that when you turn 50 was neat.”
Mellet, who keeps himself in tremendous shape by working out and training all year long, said the main reason for his success was the improvement in his mental game.
“You can’t say that hitting the golf ball or striking the ball has gotten better for me. Actually, that part of my game is on the downward slide,” Mellet said. “The only thing that saved me is the mental game, or the software side of golf. I’ve so improved that part of my game that it made up for any shortcomings I had. Ultimately, that’s the difference between who wins and who loses in this game. It’s a really fine line, and it’s almost an intangible thing.
“I’ve been playing golf for 40 years, and I’ve worked at my game very hard all of that time. But without a doubt, I’ve tapped into the necessary mental components to start lowering my scoring average. Believe it or not, my scoring average has been going down, not up, as I’ve gotten older. That ultimately determines what works in your game. This has been a lot of fun for me. I hope to continue to get better, but I realize that I’m running out of seasons. I’m still excited to really commit myself to playing the best golf I can for as long as I can.”
Although 2010 was a breakout year, his success really started the season before.
“When I look back at it, this streak really started back in the fall of 2009,” Mellet recalled. “I won the NENYPGA Match Play Championship, which was an emotional victory for me. Things seemed to change after that.”
Mellet won that tournament, held at Wolferts Roost Country Club, after hearing that his father had passed away. Instead of pulling out of the tournament, he continued, but he fell behind in the finals, and was about to pack it in.
“I can’t pin it down, but I was getting drummed in the semifinals, but out of nowhere, I put on a late charge and ended up winning the title,” he said. “I didn’t play the following week, but that momentum ended up carrying over the week after that when I won the Points Challenge in our last event of the season.”
Mellet continued to work out and train hard in the offseason, and then came out strong to win the inaugural event in the spring of 2010.
“I picked up where I left off by shooting a 66 at Saratoga Golf & Polo to win the first tournament of the spring. Then, it was on to the Donald Ross Classic, the Club Pro and finally the sectional championship. For me to win the sectional championship after being close so many times was really special. It was also a neat way to win, because I was in the lead virtually the entire way.
“I can’t put my finger on why everything went so well, but I do know that I putted well and stayed in shape all year. I made more putts than most of the guys, and it seemed to work.”
Mellet was born in New Jersey, but grew up in Buffalo, where he played junior golf with former Stadium head pro Mike Klimtzak. Mellet attended the University of Miami (Fla.) and Brevard Community College before Kimtzak noticed Mellet’s scoring average on a college leaderboard and convinced him to join Klimtzak at Marshall University.
“I even met my wife through ‘Klimmer’,” Mellet said. “He was a big help in me going to Marshall, and it opened a lot of doors for me.”
Mellet’s big break professionally was working at Oak Hill Country Club under the legendary club pro Craig Harmon.
“Craig was one of the great Harmon teaching brothers. What I learned from Craig has allowed me to be at Colonie Golf & Country Club for the last 21 years,” Mellet said.
Mellet said he can’t believe he’s been in the Capital Region for more than two decades.
“I’ve got two boys now, and one of them is a freshman in college,” he said. “It’s been a great run. My game has been in good shape for the last couple of years now. I won the Vardon Trophy [for low stroke average] in both 2008 and 2009, and then I had such a big year in 2010. It’s been a great run for me. But I still work on my swing and my mental preparations for the game.”
Aside from the NENYPGA sectional events, Mellet earned an exemption onto the New York State Open at Bethpage State Park, and he also earned a spot in the National Club Pro Championship by winning last year’s local Club Pro title.
“I’m hoping for another big year,” he said.