For now, the major large-school golf titles are in the hands of the Bethlehem Eagles. But the Shenendehowa Plainsmen are knocking on the door, and other traditional powers, like Niskayuna, are starting to tweak their games for the playoffs.
With junior standout Austin Fox leading the way, the Eagles won their second consecutive Suburban Council Golf Championship by 16 strokes over Saratoga Springs Thursday at Van Patten Golf Course. Shenendehowa, sparked by co-medalist Tommy McPartlon, finished third and gave coach Chris Douglas good reason to be optimistic about the upcoming sectionals.
McPartlon, Fox and Madison Braman of Shaker each posted an even-par 72 to share medalist honors. Bethlehem recorded a team score of 461, with the Blue Streaks (477) and Plainsmen (486) following behind. Each school used its top six scores, regardless of how many players it had competing. Bethlehem Central’s depth paid off.
“We’ve won the Suburbans quite a few times over the years, but the last time the same school won both the Suburbans and the Class A sectionals was maybe when Victor Fox was a senior. I think it may be a jinx to win the Suburbans,” Bethlehem Central coach Dick Villa said.
Douglas has a lot of respect for the Eagles, but he loves the way his own kids are playing so far this season. “We did OK,” he said. “A few of our players didn’t quite play as well as they can, and others did very well. I figured we’d finish in the top three. Bethlehem certainly is the well deserved champion, but on any given day, we can give them a good battle.”
Douglas pointed out that there is a different format between the Suburban Council Championship and the Section II Class A Championships. “In the Suburbans, you use the top six, compared to the top four in the sectionals,” he said. “Depth is more important in this tournament. I think one of the reasons we put the Suburban Council Championship in this spot is that it’s meant to be a prep for the sectionals. This is the only tournament, except for the sectionals, where we play 18 holes instead of 9. Now, all of the schools can go back to their normal matches for a few weeks.”
McPartlon, Fox, Braman and Niskayuna’s Nicholas Rumsey, each a team ace, comprised a dream foursome starting the shotgun format on hole No. 1.
The long-hitting McPartlon really got his game going just before the turn with a birdie on the par-5 ninth hole. Then he rolled in consecutive birdies on the 12th, 13th and 14th holes.
“Distance wasn’t really a factor on this course,” McPartlon said. “Although we play our league matches at The Edison Club, I live just around the corner from this course, and I’ve played it many times. The key here is getting the ball close to the hole. You can hit a lot of greens in regulation here and still not be close enough to the hole. I had four 3-putts today.”
Fox, considered Section II’s top player, wasn’t thrilled with his performance, but he said he’s been playing well most of the summer. He made the cut in the New York State Men’s Amateur and finished ninth in an AJGA event in New Jersey.
“I birdied the eighth, 11th and 16th holes,” said Fox, who also made a brilliant up-and-down par saver on the par-3 17th hole. “But I had two 3-putts. I played OK today, but not great.”
Braman birdied the 13th and 16th holes. She just missed a four-foot birdie try on the final hole.
“I only missed one green today, but my putting was just so-so,” said Braman, who competed as an amateur in the Symetra Tour’s local stop at Capital Hills at Albany.
Rumey struggled with an 81, but he said the Silver Warriors should be a factor in the upcoming sectionals.
“My chipping and my play around the greens were the things that hurt me the most. I hit my driver very well,” he said. “All the Niskayuna players tried very hard, and we’re not blaming anybody for the way anyone played today. We have a good team, and we’ll be ready for the sectionals.”
Niskayuna finished sixth with a 500 team total. Michael Doxie carded a 78, and Gallagher Gregory added an 80 to lead the Silver Warriors.
CORRECTION: The original version of this story did not include the top finishers from Saratoga Springs. They are now listed below. -- Editor
Team scores: Bethlehem 461, Saratoga Springs 477, Shenendehowa 486, Christian Brothers Academy 496, Guilderland 512, Niskayuna 500, Shaker 503, Columbia 537, Averill Park 538, Ballston Spa 541, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 545, Colonie 568, Troy 633, Mohonasen 647, Schenectady inc.
Top scores: Austin Fox (Bethlehem) 72, Madison Braman (Shaker) 72, Tommy McPartlon (Shenendehowa) 72, Colton Hart (Saratoga), 75 Matt Borelli (CBA) 76, Ryan Davis (Bethlehem) 76, AJ Cavotta (Saratoga) 77, Tyler Hall (Bethlehem) 77, Henry Manley (Bethlehem) 77, Colin Buyck (Guilderland) 78, Michael Doxie (Niskayuna) 78, Nolan Crowley (Saratoga) 79, Chris Gramuglia (BH-BL) 79, Marcus Griffin (Schenectady) 79, Jason Cyr (Schenectady) 79, Mike Mullen (Bethlehem) 79, Seungmin Kim (Saratoga), 80, Ryan Munro (CBA) 80, Pat Mantis (Bethlehem) 80, Mike Westfall (Shenendehowa) 80, Gallagher Gregory (Niskayuna) 80.