You know that you are doing something right as a local club professional when your boss is your ultimate fan.
Colonie Golf & Country Club owner Jeff Sperber spoke glowingly about head pro Frank Mellet before presenting him the Northeastern New York PGA’s highest honor — the Golf Professional of the Year Award — at Monday’s annual spring meeting and special awards ceremony at the Hilton Garden Inn.
“Nobody works harder at the game,” said Sperber, who has been the primary owner of the private Voorheesville club for the last eight years. “He always has a club in his hand, and he gave me my biggest thrill in golf when he allowed me to caddy for him at last year’s U.S.
Senior Open at Inverness. I’m Frank’s biggest fan.”
Mellet, who is in his 22nd year as the Colonie G&CC head pro, not only received the Golf Professional of the Year award, but he was also named to the section’s Hall of Fame.
Sperber couldn’t say enough about his favorite pro.
“He’s an amazing teacher. He took 14 shots off my handicap,” Sperber said. “He’s also a terrific administrator of the game. We have members who are also his customers, and Frank has a way of being a tremendous authority of the game. He teaches our members about the rules and the integrity of the game, but tells them about it in a way that doesn’t offend them.
“Thirdly, he’s a special player. He’s a consummate professional. When he first called me up to tell me he had qualified for the U.S.
Senior Open, I asked him if he would mind if I went to Inverness myself to watch him play. He did one better. He told me I was on his bag. It ended up being one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
Trained by the legendary golf professional Craig Harmon at Oak Hill, Mellet’s accomplishments as a player, teacher and administrator are numerous.
At age 50, Mellet was the section’s Player of the Year in 2010, when he also won the NENYPGA Stroke Play Championship, the Donald Ross Championship and the PGA Professional Championship, each multiple-day major events. He captured the section’s Vardon Stroke Average award three times and is also a two-time NENYPGA Match Play champ.
Mellet is serving his second stint on the NENYPGA Board of Directors as a director at large. He chaired the player development, awards, marketing and media, sponsorship/promotions and tournament/scholarship committees at various times during his two terms.
“I think the key element for me is Frank’s leadership,” said Sperber about Mellet, who is also a former NENYPGA merchandiser of the year for private clubs.
“After 22 years as a head pro at Colonie Golf & Country Club, I think of the local PGA as an extension of my family,” said Mellet. “But without my wife, Annie, I wouldn’t be able to play as much golf as I do.
“This is an incredible award. There is a big difference between the Player of the Year and the Professional of the Year awards. The Professional of the Year takes into account all the facets of the job.
“Time flies,” he said. “The game has been good to me. Obviously, I get a chance to play a lot of golf, and that’s important to me. I love to compete. But it’s nice to be recognized for the other side of the business. I’m so fortunate to have worked for such great pros as Craig Harmon at Oak Hill. He taught me how to become a golf professional. I’m honored to have been able to be here at Colonie G&CC for the last 22 years, and I’ve been a member of the PGA for almost 25 years now.
“I’m very humbled and honored to be named both the Professional of the Year and as a member of this section’s Hall of Fame.”
Mellet, who has given weekly lessons on WNYT Ch. 13 for several seasons, resides in Slingerlands with his wife and their two sons, John and Nick.
Fellow NENYPGA Hall of Famer Herb Moreland of Western Turnpike was named the Teacher of the Year for the fifth time, while
Mohawk Golf Club head pro Jeremy Kerr was named the Junior Golf Leader. Matt Daley, Kerr’s assistant at Mohawk, was named the Assistant Professional of the Year.
Former Van Patten Golf Club head pro Mike Behan, who now works for W&B Golf Carts, received the Horton Smith Award for “outstanding and continuing contributions to PGA education,” while Bob Mucha of Greenock Country Club in Lenox, Mass., was presented the Roland Stafford Sportsmanship Award.
Tim Lonergan of Wolferts Roost Country Club (private clubs), Brian Hampson of Burden Lake Country Club (public clubs) and Peter Marttin of Whiteface Resort
& Club in Lake Placid (resort clubs) were named the merchandisers of the year, and Ron Ireland, the general manager at Saratoga Golf & Polo Club, was given the Bill Strausbaugh Award, for mentoring his peers and helping them get employment opportunities. Willie King, owner and operator of Plattsburgh Golf, received the Presidents Plaque/Player Development Award.