Audrey VanAlstine never lost her competitive edge — on or off the golf course.
A Northeastern Women’s Golf Association stalwart since 1972 and a longtime member of Pinehaven Country Club, VanAlstine was playing her favorite sport right up until the week she died. She passed away last week at age 84 due to complications from a stroke.
The Rotterdam resident and Cherry Valley native remained extremely active, even in her later years. The SUNY-Cortland graduate earned her Master’s degree from the University at Albany, and served as a guidance counselor in the Schalmont School District for 31 years.
After she retired, VanAlstine volunteered at the Schenectady Inner City Ministry and played golf as often as she possibly could.
“As so many of you know, she was a great golfer, a great competitor and a great athlete,” wrote NEWGA president Judy Myslilborski in a note to her members. “Audrey also was a teacher, an encourager, always enthusiastic and optimistic, and always enjoyed the game of golf with all. We will miss her and her smile.”
VanAlstine served the NEWGA in num-erous capacities in the last 40 years. In the NEWGA membership book, she had three levels of service checked — “S” for senior, “T” for tenured and “H” for honorary.
She never missed a Gazette Women’s Amateur tournament, and helped that event draw entries when the fields dwindled in the early 1990s.
She often matched up against much younger members at Pinehaven, but age, or handicap index, never mattered.
VanAlstine won seven senior women’s championships and four women’s club championships at Pinehaven, which became her second home.
“The thing I will remember the most about Audrey was her competitive spirit,” said Mary Ellen Burt, a former NEWGA champion and currently the Union College women’s basketball and women’s golf coach. “Whether she was playing against the best golfer or the worst golfer, it didn’t matter. She always wanted to win the tee box back after she lost a hole.”
Burt said one of her most memorable moments with VanAlstine happened just this year.
“I had a chance to play with her in our President’s Cup at Pinehaven, and we both made the finals. I had to give up quite a few strokes, but when I came out to play, I was wearing black, because I knew I would be playing the role of villain. Everybody was rooting for Audrey. I eventually beat her on the 17th hole, which was good, because if went to the 18th, I think Audrey would have won,” Burt said.
“Audrey was a friend of every golfer, whether they were from Pinehaven, Ballston Spa or Burden Lake. She was a welcome face in women’s golf.”
Fellow Pinehaven CC member Peg Cer-utti was often VanAlstine’s playing partner in team events.
“Audrey had an indomitable will. That’s the first thing that comes to mind,” Cerutti said. “Anyone lucky enough to be touched by her should feel fortunate, and I was lucky she called me friend.
“I played a lot of golf with Audrey over the years, and we won our share of tourn-aments together. But when we got older and our ball didn’t travel as far, it came down to making sure we got the tee box back. That’s what we played for.”
VanAlstine had a homemade swing that didn’t look as pretty as some of her competitors, but she had one special thing going for her.
“Audrey could putt her ball. She never lined up her putts or had a pre-shot routine. All she thought about was making a good stroke,” Cerutti said. “That’s how she handled her life, as well.”