Mother Nature has changed the annual Gazette County Amateur Golf Championship from a marathon into a sprint.
For the first time in more than 25 years, the County Am won’t be a three-day event. Instead, with rain washing out today’s opening round and making Schenectady Municipal Golf Course unplayable, the scratch event will be shortened to a two-day affair Saturday and Sunday. Pairings will remain virtually the same for the first round Saturday, with the exception of the final three “late” pairings, which will be moved up directly behind the rest of the tee times.
Eighty-eight players will begin play Saturday. The low 40 and ties advance to Sunday’s final round.
The entire Capital Region has been pounded by rain for much of the last week, and Thursday’s storm compounded the problem. Course officials closed the course at noon Thursday, and according to first-year Muny head pro Matt Daley, the course wouldn’t be ready for today’s scheduled opener.
“When you look from the pro shop down 18 and nine, there is standing water everywhere,” said Daley. “I went on the golf course earlier today, and I tried to help our course superintendent, Mike Sczesny, as he tried to pump out the water on the fifth hole. From about 150 yards to the base of the hill, it was all like a giant lake. Mike was able to pump out a lot of water, but as the rain kept coming, it kept going into the same area. The rain was just continuous, and no matter how much water he pumped out, the rain kept filling it back up. It’s very frustrating.”
Daley said the holes most affected by the rain are the fifth, ninth, 14th and 16th holes.
“What’s going to happen is that we will close the golf course [today] until noon,” he said. “At noon, we will decide whether we will let anybody play at all. No golf carts will be allowed today, and that will probably also cancel the leagues.”
Daley and his staff are trying their best to make Muny playable for this prestigious event.
“I’ve offered my services to Mike to help him get the course ready,” Daley said. “We’ll do whatever we can do to get the course ready.
“I’ve never seen rain like this. In fact, the last time I saw continuous rain like this was when I was down in Florida. Unfortunately, you can’t control the weather.”
Since the course is saturated with water, it will play much longer than usual.
Ben Bates is the defending champion. The 31-year-old former New York State Junior Amateur champion dominated last year’s tournament, shooting 11-under-under-par and winning by seven shots over five-time titlist Paul Pratico.
Pratico, who also has won the last two Senior County Amateur crowns, figures to be in the mix, along with seven-time winner Jim Mueller.
Other former champs in the field include five-time winner Rob Bigley Sr., three-time winners Robby Bigley Jr., Ed Chylinski, Mike Bayus and Bill Moll, two-time winner Bob Cooper and former champion Tom Salmon.
Gazette Senior County Amateur winners in the field include five-time winners Neil Golub and Moll, Tony Cristello and Jim Gardy.
Among the other likely contenders are Seth Adams, Brandon Haase, Chad Stoffer, Todd Czepiel, Jerry Brescia, Aaron Simone, Lance Hope, Jack Stopera, Harry Morgan, Kenny Hall, Harry Morgan and Andy Bennett.
6:30 — Brian Daley, Josh Powers, Matt Panneton, Jack Stopera.
6:40 — Jay Singh, Aaron Simone, Lance Hope, Mike Mina.
6:50 — Mike Drake, Jim Fazio, Dave Sutphen, Frank DeGraw.
7:00 — Neil Golub, Mike Bayus, Tony Cristello, Harry Morgan.
7:10 — Bill Moll, Jim Gardy, Glenn Stopera, Bill Sweet.
7:20 — Kenny Hall, Andy Bennett, Mario Marino, Ross Lackey.
7:30 — Tim Lewandowski, Woody Winslow, Paul Carnivale, Mike Daley.
7:40 — Nicholas Longo, Greg Stopera, Jim Follain, Dave Nicholson.
7:50 — Rit Cimmino, Jor Cimmino, Toby Harding, Craig Schoonmaker.
8:00 — Paul Pratico, Ben Bates, Jim Mueller, Tom Salmon.
8:10 — Bob Cooper, Ed Chylinski, Brandon Haase, Jerry Brescia.
8:20 — Carl Gilbert, Chris Gilbert, Larry Edwards, Mike Lucey.
8:30 — Todd Trepess, Chris Pierpont, Randy Bird, Frank Manell.
8:40 — Mike DiGirolamo, Richard Flork-iewicz, Gary Slater, Tom Kenneally.
8:50 — Allen Cromer, Robert Alheim, Ryan Gallagher, Nicholas Kearns.
9:00 — Jay Taub, Dave DeMarco, Brandon Alois, George Hillenbrandt.
9:10 — Derrick Brown, Mike Pollock, Steve Mango, Mark Compton.
9:20 — Kevin Schlansker, Alex Olbrych, Patrick Woodfield, Seth Adams.
9:30 — Jeremy Youngs, Kevin Betzwieser, Freddy Luna, Don Dobbs.
9:40 — Connor Adams, Kyle Adams, Chris Stopera, Mike Stopera.
9:50 — Rob Bigley Jr., Todd Czepiel, Chad Stoffer, Rob Bigley Sr.
10:00 — Kevin Dwyer, Mike Dwyer, Don Blaha, Peter Andrikopoulos.