As we stare October in the face, there’s not much drama left surrounding the local men’s amateur and club professionals’ player of the year races.
With only this weekend’s New York State Mid-Amateur, a few partners events and falling leaves tournament remaining on the schedule, it appears that Steve Quillinan Jr. of the Country Club of Troy will capture the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Player of the Year trophy.
Quillinan, this year’s Troy Invitational champion and a former Tri-County Match Play titlist, has 455.44 points through eight events.
Mohawk Golf Club’s Jim Gifford, a two-time Saratoga County Amateur titlist and this year’s Edison Invitational winner, is second with 417.96, although Gifford is playing in the State Mid-Am. A victory could make the final tally closer.
Those two distanced themselves from CRAGA Stroke Play winner Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook (277), Justin Deitz of The Edison Club (276.65), Chris Barach of Mohawk Golf Club (270.07) and Dan Russo of Rolling Hills at Antlers (250.46).
Barach won his first area major this year at the Tri-County Match Play Championship, and Russo earned a berth in the USGA Mid-Amateur in Illinois.
Rounding out the top 10 are Don DeNyse III of Capital Hills at Albany (215.84), Matt Horton of the Country Club of Troy (210.76), Bethlehem Central High School standout Victor Fox of Normanside Country Club (140) and D.J. Tozier of Western Turnpike (134). Tozier spent much of the summer in Georgia, getting ready for college.
The NENYPGA Player of the Year race was over almost a month ago as Scott Berliner of Normanside Country Club captured the title for the second straight year. Berliner, who also swept the Assistants’ Association honors this week, was so far ahead that he skipped the semifinals of the NENYPGA Match Play at Albany Country Club last week because he had a prior commitment. Bob Mucha of Greenock Country Club took advantage with a bye into the finals, and he went on to beat Frank Mellet of Colonie Golf & Country Club, 3-and-2, for the title.
Berliner, who was completely dominant for the first half of the season, finished with a whopping 2,087.25 points, followed by Mucha (1,305.25), Mellet (1,246.38), Ian Breen of Colonie G&CC (1,202.50), Stroke Play champion Josh Hillman of Berkshire Hills CC (1,165.38), Anders Mattson of Saratoga National GC (764.13), Tom Oppedisano of McGregor Links CC (738.38), Steve Vatter of Capital Hills at Albany (687.25), Paul Jaycox of Cobleskill G&CC (687.00) and Glenn Davis of Albany CC (609.75).
UP FOR REVIEW
As we start to think about closing down for the season — hopefully not too soon — here are some equipment suggestions from several items I reviewed over the last few weeks.
I tried the new Innovex golf balls, and I was very pleased with one out of the two new selections called the E-Motion (two-piece) balls. They felt extremely light, compared with other balls I’ve tried, and jumped off the clubface, especially with the driver. This is a brand new series of golf balls, and I was surprised how much I liked them. They reminded me a little bit of the new Titliest Velocity balls, but a lot cheaper. They were also more manageable on short shots around the greens.
The brother to the new tandem is called the V-Motion (three-piece) balls, and I wasn’t that thrilled. Nothing special there, but I only tried them for a few holes during my “review” round. Maybe they deserve another try. These balls, which provide extra spin around the greens, are perhaps better served for players with a lot more talent than myself.
By the way, the same marketing company that sent me info on the Innovex balls asked me to try the Polara golf balls, which are supposed to straighten out your shots and give you extra length at the same time. Maybe you’ve heard about them. There are two primary types, the Ultimate Straight and the Xtra Distance, and they claim they can straighten out your shots by as much as 75 percent with the Ultimate Straight balls and 50 percent with the Xtra Distance set. I tried one of the Xtra Distance balls and got a little extra length, but it wasn’t earth-shattering. They did go pretty straight, though. Remember, these Polara balls are not legal for tournament play, so if you are a serious player and not just out for some fun, forget I even told you about them. I’ll probably give the other type a try just for fun to see if they really go deep.
Do try the Innovex balls, however. I think you’ll like them.
I also was very interested in Dave Stockton’s new golf book on DVD called “Unconscious Putting,” and I recommend it to anyone who is desperately searching for some help with the flat stick — like me. If Rory McIlroy swears by Stockton’s short-game teaching prowess, who am I to argue?
I couldn’t stop watching Stockton’s DVD. I loved his philosophy of putting within five seconds of determining your line so you don’t have time to freeze up. He prefers that you don’t take a practice stroke and just react to the line and speed that your mind suggests. His few basic putting drills were extremely logical, and he explained how to roll a putt rather than hit it. His suggestions for a pre-shot putting routine are invaluable. Good stuff.
Medicus also asked me to review some of their items, and again, I was curious about their new Overspin putter. The putter face did seem to get the ball rolling sooner than my normal Odyssey putter, but when you are putting on extremely fast greens, the ball seems to get out of control very quickly. The other thing I had a problem with was both the length of the putter and the alignment aid. They sent the putter to me to try without knowing the proper length for me, and it’s a little too long for my normal putting stroke. That’s why most of us should have our putters fitted for us by experts.
Also, I need more help with alignment on my putters. The simple white lines don’t seem to frame my putting line enough for my faulty vision, but that’s a personal preference.
Still, if you putt on predominantly slow greens, I think the Overspin putter, which features a center-shafted head, is worth a try. It’s excellent on long putts and from the fringe or just off the green.
Even more worthy of trying is the Medicus putting aid which really does help you keep a pendulum stroke. Three cheers for this one, which attaches to any putter and keeps both hands moving like a pendulum. Too bad you can’t use it while you play!
In my never ending search for extra length off the tee, I also purchased the new Callaway Razr driver for a great price, only about $200. I got fitted with a senior shaft originally, and I was extremely disappointed. My tee shots went a good 20 yards shorter than my old driver.
But Northway Golf was great about replacing the shaft, and the change seemed to help quite a bit. Still, the 10.5 degrees of loft and extremely large clubhead didn’t give me much help. I’m still hitting my 9.5 degree Dick Bogdan special, which I’ve had for more than four years, about 10 yards longer, but I’m very frustrated with my loss of length off the tee as I get a little older and quite a bit thinner.
Maybe I’ll wait until next year and try one of the TaylorMade adjustable models. Hope springs eternal.
u Airway Meadows Golf Club’s 14th annual Oktoberfest Tournament will be held next Sunday. The four-person scramble begins with a 9 a.m. registration and continental breakfast. Entry fee is $94 for non-members and includes golf, lunch at the turn and prizes. Call 792-4144 for more information.
u Former area standout Neil Spitalny, the identical twin of Colonie Golf & Country Club co-owner Peter Spitalny, is competing this weekend in the USGA Senior Amateur at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J. The tournament began Saturday and continues through Thursday. It’s his fourth U.S. Senior Amateur. He won two matches a year ago and still plays to a plus-2 handicap. Spitalny, 61, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was born in Albany and played out of Colonie Country Club, where he captured several club championships. He won the 1967 New York State Junior Amateur and played in the 1968 U.S. Amateur, where he advanced to match play, at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. He was the golf captain at the University of Michigan and earned first-team All-Big Ten Conference honors in 1972. He is currently working as an orthopaedic surgeon.
u The Stadium Golf Club Falling Leaves Tournament is scheduled for Oct. 20 with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. The format will be two-person scramble. Entry fee is $90 for non-members and $70 for members. Top prize will be $450 for both the gross and net divisions. The top six teams in each division will be paid, based on a full field of 72 teams. Golf, cart, range balls and a buffet are included in the entry fee. Entry deadline is Oct. 17. Call Stadium at 374-9104 for more information.
u All three Section II class championships will be held Wednesday, with Town of Colonie hosting the Class A tournament, Rolling Hills at Antlers holding the Class B event and Schenectady Municipal entertaining the Class C-D tourney. The ABCD Playoffs are set for Oct. 9 at Orchard Creek. The top 16 then advance to the State Qualifier Oct. 11, again at Orchard Creek.
u The second annual Saratoga County EOC Golf Tournament will be played Tuesday at McGregor Links Country Club. Entry fee for the four-person scramble is $100 and includes golf, cart, continental breakfast, lunch, refreshments and prizes. Call Dottie Sellers at 587-3158, ext. 111, for more information.
u The Eastern New York Golf Association wraps up its season Oct. 10 at Normanside Country Club.
u The Senior Junior Invitational Pro-Pro will be held Oct. 13-14 at Albany Country Club. The Four Ball Scratch event consists of one senior player age 50 and older and one junior player 49 or younger. It’s limited to the first 40 teams. The field will be cut to the low 24 teams and ties after the first round. Entry fee is $250 per team.
u The Tri-County Partners Tournament will be played Saturday and Sunday at Olde Kinderhook Golf Club.
u Schuyler Meadows is the site for today’s High School Invitational.
u Assistant pros from the Northeastern New York PGA will compete in their Assistants Match Play Championship Tuesday and Wednesday at Colonie Golf & Country Club. Other pro events scheduled for this month include the Bob Smith Memorial Senior Pro-Am on Friday, the annual team match with the Central New York PGA Oct. 11 at Cedar Lake Golf Club, the Assistants’ Association’s Silver Dollar Classic at McGregor Links CC Oct. 15 and the annual Fall Meeting Oct. 22 at Saratoga National Golf Club.
u I hope your fall season continues as long as possible. Keep hitting them straight. See you next spring.
Vince Matteo aced the 123-yard 23rd hole with an 8-iron at The Edison Club.
At Whispering Pines, Lyn Warnick aced the 80-yard 16th hole with a pitching wedge.
Jim Geiger, competing in the Rockton House Fall Classic, eagled the par-4 18th hole at Amsterdam Municipal.
Mike McGann eagled the 13th hole at Saratoga Spa State Park.