With more time devoted to playing golf rather than administrating it, Eagle Crest Golf Club general manager/owner Bill Paulsen Jr. is having one of his best seasons ever.
Paulsen, a five-time Saratoga County Amateur champion who was also the qualifying medalist at Ballston Spa Country Club for this year’s State Amateur, put together another consistent round of one-over-par 71 to share second place in the 57th annual New York State Men’s Senior Amateur Championship Tuesday at Normanside Country Club.
The three-day event for players 55 of age and older continues today. The 130-player field will be cut in half following the second round for Thursday’s finale.
Scott Dean of Attica Golf Club was the first-round leader with a 70.
Paulsen was a member of Albany Country Club in his younger days, and he could boom the ball off the tee with the best of them. He admits to being much shorter now, but he’s also much straighter.
“As I’ve gotten older, I lost some distance, maybe 10 to 15 yards off the tee,” said the 56-year-old Paulsen. “But I switched drivers to a new PING G25, and I also got fitted for a new shaft that really works with my short and quick swing. I’d rather hit it 240 yards down the middle than 280 yards all over the place.”
Paulsen said his putter and his irons have also been consistent this year, leading to some solid scores.
“I’m playing a lot more golf this year than I have in the past, and it has worked out for me” he said. “You are much more efficient when you play more. My wife, Kim, and I raised three daughters, so I had different priorities for quite a few years. Now, we are both empty nesters. Kim runs the restaurant at the course, and I’ve got a great staff, so I can finally get out and play more. I can also focus on golf when I’m out there. There’s nothing worse when you’re getting ready to putt than to worry about what’s going on back at the golf course. You are always nervous enough when you’re playing in a tournament like this, so you don’t need any more distractions. The more you play in these things, the better you usually play.”
Paulsen rolled in two birdies to help offset three bogeys.
“I started off kind of slowly and was two-over after four holes, but I settled down after that,” he said. “One of my birdies was a tap-in from a half-inch on the eighth hole.”
Paulsen said a bogey on the 13th hole was caused by not reading the wind correctly and landing in a bunker. Otherwise, he was in play all day.
Meanwhile, Dean was able to match par with the help of a chip-in eagle on the 10th hole. He finished strong with birdies on the 16th and 17th holes.
Bill Lebeau of Van Schaick Island Country Club in Cohoes was second among the local contingent with a 73. Three-time New York State Senior Amateur champion Chuck Connolly of Kingswood Links carded a 74, as did former Gazette Senior County Amateur titlist Mike Carroll of Mohawk Golf Club and Paul Lundberg of Shaker Ridge Country Club.
Former Normanside CC member Earl Westchester, now at Shaker Ridge Country Club, shot a 75, as did fellow Shaker Ridge CC member Robert Norton, Dave Champagne of Catskill GC and Kevin Broderick of Orchard Creek.
Broderick, like Paulsen, has enjoyed a standout summer. The 61-year-old was one of the best seniors in the CRAGA Stroke Play Championship and finished either first or second in several local best-ball events, including last week’s Wolferts Roost Invitational, the Stadium Classic and the Haggerty Two-Man. He also played solidly at the State Amateur at Schuyler Meadows in July.
“I was solid today,” he said. “I had two birdies, but I also made a double-bogey on my 10th hole from just 70 yards out. “It’s been a good year, though.”
Former New York State Super Senior champion Ralph Maru of Van Patten matched his age with a 76 that included one birdie.
Leaders — Scott Dean (Attica GC) 70, Robert Shulha (Windwatch &CC) 71, Bill Paulsen Jr. (Eagle Crest GC) 71, Jeff Reissman (Spook Rock GC) 71, Bill Phillips (Villa Roma CC) 71, Phil Tripoli (Oswego CC) 72, Jim Hamburger (McCann GC) 72, Frank Plata (Cazenovia CC) 73, Bill Lebeau (Van Schaick Island CC) 73, Fred Arliss (Wayne Hills CC) 73, Randy Young (Bellevue CC) 73.
Other top local players — Chuck Connolly (Kingswood Links GC) 74, Mike Carroll (Mohawk GC) 74 Paul Lundberg (Shaker Ridge CC) 74 Robert Norton (Shaker Ridge CC) 75, Earl Winchester (Shaker Ridge CC) 75, Dave Champagne (Catskill GC) 75, Kevin Broderick (Orchard Creek GC) 75, Will Lamy (eclub Capital Districdt) 76, John Donovan (Schenectady Municipal) 76, Ralph Maru (Van Patten GC) 76, Mike Bayus (Orchard Creek GC) 77, Pat Seelye (Hiland GC) 78, James Blendel (Normanside CC) 78, Bill Kent (Town of Colonie) 79, Kevin Hart (Pinehaven CC) 79, John Reagan (Western Turnpike) 79, Bob Cooper (Orchard Creek GC) 79, Paul Hart (Pinehaven CC) 79, Ken Brown (Ochard Creek GC) 80, James Leonard (Pinehaven CC) 80.