A familiar name is on top of the Northeastern New York PGA Player of the Year standings, and the way he is performing lately, he should once again be a huge favorite for the section’s biggest tournament of the year.
Scott Berliner (2,366.50 points), assistant pro at McGregor Links Country Club, has a gigantic lead over runner-up Peter Gerard (1,383) of Mill Road Acres and Colonie Golf & Country Club assistant Kevin Cain (1,365.42) in the point standings.
They should be the players to beat in this week’s NENYPGA Stroke Play Championship, set for Monday and Tuesday at Wahconah Country Club in Dalton, Mass.
Berliner fought injuries, especially a sore ankle, for most of the season, but he kicked it into high gear down the stretch, with victories in a pair of section majors, the two-day Professional Championship at Ballston Spa Country Club and a brand new major, the Class A Championship at Colonie Golf & Country Club.
The 39-year-old Berliner recently surpassed Colonie G&CC head pro Frank Mellet with an area-best 10 major championships among the NENYPGA pros. Berliner, a Luzerne native, has won the last three Stroke Play Championships and has dominated the section’s Player of the Year award for several years.
It’s been a big comeback season for Gerard, also a former NENYPGA Stroke Play champion and a four-time section Player of the Year. He won this week’s Senior Stroke Play Championship. The same can be said for Cain, who did not play competitive golf for nearly two seasons after an injury.
Rounding out the top 10 on the Player of the Year list are former Stroke Play champion Steve Vatter (1,192.50) of Capital Hills at Albany; Anders Mattson (1,174) of Saratoga National, another former Stroke Play titlist; Brian Lowe (1,131.75) of Windham CC; Ian Breen (937.17) of Colonie Golf & Country Club; John Souza (881.66) of Stadium Golf Club; Frank Mellet (697.34) of Colonie G&CC;and Paul Jaycox (674.33) of Cobleskill G&CC.
Mellet is a former Stroke Play winner and Player of the Year, while Jaycox is a former Player of the Year.
I like The GolfChannel’s new series about “Relaxed Golf.”
Promoted by Charlie Rymer and Matt Ginella, Relaxed Golf is a set of common-sense rules of golf to used by the recreational player who is not competing in a tournament, when USGA rules must be strictly followed.
There are seven rules, and many of these would certainly make a round of golf go more smoothly and quickly for the average rec player.
Maximum score is double par on any hole. This rule is also part of the Calloway scoring system.
All penalties are just one stroke, no matter what type, and players should simply just drop a ball near where the original ball was lost.
When looking for a lost ball, don’t take more than two minutes, rather than the usual five.
Another rule, which I think is a great common-sense move for the recreational player, is to pull your ball out of divots or footprints in the fairway, with your playing partners’ consent. The same holds true for tree roots or other dangerous lies.
Putts can be conceded with your playing partners’ consent, and there are no restrictions on the number of clubs used.
When in doubt, use common sense and fairness.
I’m not a fan of the unlimited equipment rule, but I like most of the other ones for casual rounds.
“When there’s nothing on the line but fun, recreational golf should be an enjoyable experience,” said Rymer. “Trying to remember and decipher the official rules can get in the way of a good time.”
Added Ginella: “We’re not suggesting that golfers ignore the official rules. They should continue to be used for any type of competitive play. But when it’s a match among friends, relaxed rules can make the game easier, faster and more fun. These simply are common-sense practices for avid amateurs, and it’s how the majority of the game is played anyway.”
Good points. But remember, if you’re playing in a league or a tournament, don’t mess with the rules, because you could be taking an unfair advantage from the rest of the field.
u Canajoharie Country Club hosts the next Eastern New York Golf Association event Wednesday.
u The biggest individual medal-play event of the season for area women will be held Monday and Tuesday, with the Northeastern Women’s Golf Association Championship at Columbia Golf & Country Club.
u Airway Meadows’ 11th annual Benefit Tournament raised more than $8,500 to benefit Skyler Castro, who was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. Skyler missed the last two months of school, but is hoping to return by January.
u The 22nd annual Sokol’s Golf tournament, to benefit the Center for Disability Services Foundation, will be held Sept. 5 at Cronin’s Golf Resort in Warrensburg. Entry fee is $95 per player, and includes golf, lunch, cart, a steak dinner and prizes. Call Tina Kelly (832-6124) for more information.
u Although Tiger Woods won’t be competing in Wednesday’s Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge at Turning Stone Resort Casino’s Atunyote Golf Club, he will be part of the festivities. Jason Dufner, like Woods, withdrew because of injury. The field now includes Begay, Erik Compton, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Jonas Blixt, Angel Cabrera, Louis Oosthuizen and Jhonattan Vegas. Tickets are $50 for adults, and can be purchased by calling 315-361-7469.
u Ron Huber, 84, a member of the Crafty Curmudgeon group that plays 18 holes at various area courses, bettered his age twice recently. He shot an 82 at Cobleskill Golf & Country Club on Aug. 11 and then fired another 82 Aug. 18 at Amsterdam Municipal.
u Pioneer Hills Golf course will feature a special, called Sams and Clams, on Aug. 31. Cost of golf, with cart, will be $30. Sam Adams beer and clams will be available. The cost of a dozen steamed clams will be $6. The food starts at 11 a.m.
Alex Ciulla posted a hole-in-one with a pitching wedge on the 105-yard eighth hole at Fairways of Halfmoon.
Ken LaBelle Sr. holed out with a 7-iron on the 145-yard fifth hole at Briar Creek.
Jong Hyup Lee fired a hole-in-one on the 152-yard third hole with a 7-iron at Eagle Crest Golf Club.
Steve Clapper, boys’ soccer coach at Northville, eagled the par-4, 292-yard fourth hole at Airway Meadows by driving the green and nailing a 22-foot putt.
Huber eagled the par-5 fifth hole while competing in the Crafty Curmudgeons outing at Amsterdam Municipal.
While playing in the The C.W. Players league at Schenectady Municipal, Lance Hope eagled the par-5 second hole, and Jim Follain eagled the par-4 eighth hole.
Dave Renadette and Will Atchison each eagled the seventh hole while competing in the Bellamy Construction league at Schenectady Municipal.
Gary O’Connor eagled the fourth hole with a driver, 3-wood and wedge at Mechanicville Golf Club.