Scott Berliner has a new home and a few new professional goals, as well.
The 39-year-old Luzerne native has not only won the last three Northeastern New York PGA Stroke Play Championships, the premier event for the local club professionals, but he was also named the NENYPGA Player of the Year all three seasons.
The winner of three Donald Ross Classic titles, one Class A Championship, one NENY-PGA Match Play crown and one Professional Championship has piled up eight majors overall, just one behind section leader Frank Mallet of Colonie Golf & Country Club.
But despite Berliner’s domination of the local club pro tour, he was without a job after he parted ways with Cobleskill Golf & Country Club over the winter.
Berliner was fortunate to find a position just recently, however, and he announced at Monday’s NENYPGA annual spring meeting at Wolferts Roost Country Club that he will split time as a part-time assistant pro at McGregor Links Country Club in Wilton and a teaching pro at Hiland Golf Club in Queensbury.
“It was a last-minute deal,” said Berliner, who only became eligible for all the sectional events three years ago, when he earned his Class A card. Before that, he could play only in the Donald Ross Classic, a two-day event at The Sagamore Resort and Glens Falls Country Club.
“Jim Jeffers had a guy teaching at his place, and he just moved away, so he asked me if I wanted to help out at Hiland. Then Tom [head pro Tom Oppedisano] offered me a part-time job helping out at McGregor. I think it’s a great deal for me, because I love to teach. This also gives me the flexibility to play in some more tournaments that I couldn’t play in before because of my work responsibilities.”
Berliner’s talent as a player and teacher has been unquestioned, but his desire to spend more time in the pro shop with other administrative and merchandising duties took a back seat to his playing.
“One of my goals now is to become a head professional, if a job opens up,” he said. “I enjoy teaching, and I take a great deal of pride in it, along with my playing. But I also learned about the merdandising end of the job when I was an assistant pro at Shaker Ridge Country Club and Normanside Country Club. I would love to get an opportunity to become a head pro some day, and I think I can do a good job. I’m confident if a head pro position opens up around here, I’m ready.”
Berliner’s other primary goal is to once again win the section’s stroke play championship and player of the year honors.
“I played with Dal Daly [former head pro at Cobleskill G&CC] down in Florida, and he kidded around with me that he wouldn’t be rooting for me to break his record of four stroke play championships,” Berliner said.
“Even though last year was a pretty good year for me, it wasn’t up to my usual standards. I was very inconsistent, just like I was this winter on the mini tours. Maybe I was a little lazy, or maybe I had a lack of preparation time.
“But I want to get back to the national Professional Championship, and I want to get through local qualifying for the U.S. Open. Those are my two playing goals along with my winning a fourth section championship.”
Longtime Country Club of Pittsfield head pro Brad Benson was honored as the NENYPGA Professional of the Year, the section’s most prestigious award, at Monday’s spring meeting.
“This is an incredible honor,” said Benson, who will begin his 33rd year as head pro at CC of Pittsfield this spring. He also has been an assistant pro at Innisbrook Resort (1973-78) and Merion Golf Club (1979-1981).
Benson established the CC of Pittsfield Golf & Tennis Camp as well as the Benson Golf Academy, and has focused on developing the skills of young adult golfers who show a strong interest in the sport.
“I always put my members first,” he said. “I want them, and any visitor to our course, to completely enjoy their golf experience, no matter what they shoot in this challenging game. I know I’m old school, but that’s what I believe should be a golf professional’s priority, along with teaching the next generation this great game of golf.”