Some things never seem to change at the New York State Senior and Super Senior Amateur Golf Championship.
A few players like Bill Paulsen Jr. of Eagle Crest Golf Club can’t help but have a few senior moments . . . like forgetting his driver.
And veteran standouts, like three-time champion Chuck Connolly, are usually found near the top of the leaderboard.
Connolly, a Kingswood Links member who will soon be 68, shot a one-over-par 71 to lead the 50-player local contingent during the opening round of the 56th annual State Senior Am Wednesday at Wolferts Roost Country Club.
Connolly trails Ted Northrup of Onondaga Country Club by one shot heading into today’s second round. The three-day event for seniors 55 and older winds up on Friday.
Despite heavy rains Tuesday night that forced tournament officials to switch the opening-day format from tee times to a 1:30 p.m. shotgun, players found the course very playable and fair.
“I thought the course was in excellent condition,” said Connolly, who owns more than 20 club championships to go along with several hundred Eastern New York Golf Association tournament wins. “I only had mud on my ball three or four times, and nothing that hurt me.
“It’s a tough, demanding little course. It’s not long, but it’s hard to hit the ball close. I had some good chances [for birdies], but I couldn’t make them. There are very demanding greens here.”
Connolly birdied the fourth and 11th holes and gave up bogeys on the first, fifth and 14th holes.
Paulsen, the general manager and co-owner at Eagle Crest who posted a 72, started his round on a par-3, and he didn’t realize that he didn’t have his driver in his bag until he played his first par-4.
“I was practicing at my club before coming over to the Roost, and I left my driver in my trunk,” said Paulsen with a smile. “I had to ask an official about whether I could go and get my driver, and he told me that I could as long as I only had 13 clubs in my bag.”
Paulsen, who just turned 55 in May and was playing in his first State Senior Am, played consistently with only two bogeys and one birdie on the 13th hole.
“I was a junior member here in the mid-1970s,” said Paulsen. “I should know the course, but I did forget some of the holes. They did a good job of getting the course ready after all that rain. It takes a while to get a course ready. I know about that running my own course.”
Longtime Country Club of Troy standout Joe Quillinan, who now also plays out of Olde Kinderhook, shot a 74 despite two double-bogeys.
“One of them was a whiff,” laughed Quillinan, who birdied the first and fifth holes. “I thought the course played extremely fair. I had no problem with the fact that they played the ball down. The course was in remarkable shape considering all the rain we had.”
A pair of left-handers, Jim Cocca, formerly of Shaker Ridge Country Club, and Glenn Stopera, out of Amsterdam Municipal, both shot 76.
“I had a mediocre round, because I sprayed my driver quite a bit, but I can’t believe how the course dried out so well,” said Cocca.
“I haven’t played here in a tournament in 20 years, but I’m glad I slipped in a practice round on Monday,” said Stopera. “You can score here, but you better be careful on the greens, and you better be able to get up and down. It was a lot colder today, and the ball didn’t travel as far. It’s easier to score when it’s warmer.”
Tournament officials said the format will switch back to tee times for the start of today’s second round.
Leaders — Ted Northrup (Onondaga G&CC) 70, Chuck Connolly (Kingswood Links) 71, Tom Trakoval (Port Jefferson CC) 71, Todd Dischinger (Foxline GC) 72, Bill Paulsen Jr. (Eagle Crest) 72, Steve Nosonowitz (McCann GC) 72, Dale Dirk (Blue Herron Hills) 73, Jame Castle (Oneida Community) 73, Randy Young (Bellevue CC) 73, Peter Rymer (Hamilton Farm) 74, Scott Dean (Attica GC) 74, Joe Quillinan (Olde Kinderhook) 74.
Other top locals — Ray Kelly (Wolferts Roost CC) 7, Bob Cooper (Orchard Creek) 75, Kevin Broderick (Orchard Creek) 75, Jim Cocca (Shaker Ridge CC) 76, Glenn Stopera (Amsterdam Municipal) 76, John Reagan (Western Turnpike) 76, Patrick Seelye (Hiland) 76, Paul Hart (Pinehaven CC) 77, Paul Maties (Columbia G&CC) 77, Peter Spitalny (Colonie G&CC) 78, Paul Lundberg (Shaker Ridge CC) 78, Earl Winchester (Shaker Ridge CC) 78.