Guilderland native Dan Venezio can’t wait to rub elbows with the likes of PGA Tour stars Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
The 30-year-old assistant pro at Myopia Golf & Hunt Club in South Hamilton, Mass., will become one of the few Capital Region golfers ever to compete in a PGA Tour major championship when he tees it up in the PGA Championship Aug. 13-16 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.
Venezio, a former member of Pinehaven Country Club, earned his spot by finishing tied for 16th in this week’s Professional Championship at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Flourtown, Pa. The Professional Championship is the biggest event for club pros across the country, and the top 20 get to play in the PGA Championship.
Venezio shot rounds of 73, 71, 72 and 69 for a 1-under-par 285.
“This is the epitome of our profession,” Venezio said. “But I had a hiccup on the 18th hole of my final round. I hit my tee shot out of bounds. It wasn’t a God-awful shot, but I let the wind grab it. I had to hit three of my best-ever shots to make a bogey and avoid a playoff.”
Already back in the pro shop Thursday to cater to his members, Venezio hasn’t had much time yet to ponder what it would mean to play in the PGA Championship.
“It’s the chance to fulfill a dream. I guess it will hit me on the driving range at Whistling Straits when I’m standing next to Rory, Phil and Tiger. I’ll be standing there looking at them, and they’ll probably tell me I can go ahead and hit the ball.”
Venezio said playing in a PGA Tour major championship is a completely different experience for most club pros.
“There is a big difference between a golf pro and a tour pro,” he said. “I play as much as my schedule allows here in my local section, but work comes first. My boss has been supportive of letting me play. Even though my club only gets 10,000 to 11,000 rounds every summer, it’s busy in ways you can’t see on the stat sheet. It’s a smaller, sleepy club that likes to stay under the radar, but we have a lot of great members. My telephone froze the other day. I couldn’t open it because I had so many texts from my members congratulating me.”
As a side note, Myopia Golf & Hunt Club hosted the U.S. Open four times.
Venezio got his start as a youngster at Pinehaven Country Club.
“I used to hang out at Pinehaven all summer long,” he recalled. “I joined the club when I was 10 years old. My dad wanted me to have a place to play. I would play nine holes, practice for a while, and then hang out down at the pool. I also ended up working there for [current head pro] Scott Warren in the bag room. That’s what led me to get into golf as a job and not just playing for fun.”
Venezio fell in love with the game and enrolled in Penn State’s golf management school. The Guilderland High School product graduated from the golf management school in 2007 and was lucky enough to get a job at Myopia right off the bat. He’s been there ever since.
“I’ve played in several one-day assistants tournaments in our section, but it’s very competitive around here. We have a large PGA section with almost 200 players. In the 2012 and 2013 Professional Championship, I was right in the thick of earning a spot, but I stumbled in the final round. They were good learning experiences.”
By the way, Scotia native Ron Philo Jr., a former Professional Championship winner who has played in both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship before, shot a 73-75-148 and failed to make the two-round cut. Scott Berliner of Hiland Golf Club, reigning Northeastern New York PGA Player of the Year, also missed the cut with a 72-78-150.
Besides Philo, the only local competitor to participate in a major during the modern era was former Town of Colonie assistant pro Jay Gunning, who played in the U.S. Open.
Several old-time local pros, like former Mohawk Golf Club head pro John Maurycy, competed in the U.S. Open on numerous occasions.
u The ALS Memorial Open at Van Patten Golf Club last week raised $150,000 for the ALS Center.
u The Eastern New York Golf Association heads to Winding Brook Country Club in Valatie for its next stop on Tuesday.
u The Eagle Crest Shootout is scheduled for July 17. Entry fee for the two-man, best-ball elimination event is $160 per team, plus greens fees.
u Local club pros compete in a pro-am at Wolferts Roost Country Club on Monday.
u The New York State Golf Association Amateur Series continues Monday at Colonie Golf & Country Club.
u Area women will compete in the Northeast Women’s Golf Association Two Balls of Four at Hiland Golf Club, one of their majors, on Wednesday.
u Art Griffin, a Lake Placid native who recently completed his freshman season at Lafayette College, rolled to a 9-shot victory in the 72nd annual Troy Invitational last weekend at the Country Club of Troy. RPI’s Jamie Jackson was second, followed by multiple Troy Invitational titlist Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook.
u The fourth annual Ronald McDonald House Puttin’ For Kids tournament, sponsored by The Darcie Trapasso Tennis Camp, will take place
July 13 at Albany Country Club, with all proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House in Albany. There will be a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start, four-person scramble, 18 holes, awards to men’s, women’s and mixed divisions. Locker room, driving range, putting green, carts available starting at 10 a.m. Registration from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. There will be a barbecue lunch, complimentary beverage stations and cart on course, plus a complimentary full bar and hot and cold buffet at awards ceremony. For more information, contact Darci or Joe Trapasso at 210-4170 or email [email protected]
u Netter’s-Go-Getters for the Multiple Sclerosis Society will host their inaugural golf tournament at Airway Meadows Golf Course on Aug. 14. Entry fee is $110 per golfer, covering golf, shared cart, a gift, lunch at the turn and dinner after the tournament. Dinner only is available for $25. There will be auctions and other surprises. For more information or to sign up a group, call Ernie Incitti at 356-2460 or email [email protected]
u The Anthony Tebano Memorial golf tournament will take place July 27 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course with a 10 a.m. shotgun start. Cost is $90 per golfer. Proceeds benefit all Niskayuna athletic teams and sports boosters. Cost covers greens fees, cart, all beverages, lunch at the turn and full dinner. Contests, auction, 50/50 raffle and prize items throughout the day. For more information, or to register a team, contact tournament director Ben Smith at 470-5743 or [email protected]
Alan Hart used a “half-swing chop shot” with a 4-iron to register his first hole-in-one on the 80-yard 11th hole at Whispering Pines.
Longtime Union College assistant football coach Gary Reynolds aced the 150-yard 13th hole at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Rob King hit an 8-iron on the 156-yard third hole for his hole-in-one at Eagle Crest Golf Club.
At Van Patten, Scott Moulton holed out with a 7-iron on the 143-yard 17th hole.
Phil Dana used a 6-iron for his ace on the 150-yard eighth hole at Stadium Golf Club.
Clyde Driggers eagled the par-5 fourth hole at Mechanicville Golf Club.
At Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course, Bob Donohue eagled the ninth hole.
Pat Reynolds eagled the ninth hole at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.