Local club professionals never stop learning about the game so they can pass that ever-evolving knowledge on to students of all ages.
That means whether you just need a tune-up or a full-scale rebuild, it’s a good idea to visit your favorite pro early in the season. The better we play, the more we like playing. It’s a simple formula.
One of the best instructors is Schenectady Municipal Golf Course head pro Matt Daley, who won the Northeastern New York PGA’s Horton Smith Education Award this spring and is serving his second year on the section’s board of directors.
Daley explained that all club professionals must stay current with their education opportunities provided by the PGA.
“We all must earn a certain amount of credits for every cycle. These credits are required,” he said. “We have a certain amount of online programs that are available, and there are meetings you can attend, but we’re always trying to find new ways of educating our PGA members and at the same keeping it fun. We’re always trying to come up with new ideas. This year, we will have several seminars on the new rules of golf for example. There are always new things to learn in this business.”
The more the club pros learn, they more they want to pass on that knowledge. Amateurs can surely benefit from lessons provided by certified teaching pros.
“The biggest thing is that the majority of golfers around here don’t have the luxury of going to Florida in the off-season. Most courses in the Capital Region close in November, and that means golfers can’t play in January, February or March,” Daley said. “For the most part, they are not even swinging a club, unless they are fortunate enough to go down south for a vacation, or they use a golf simulator up here. The simulators are nice to get some swings in, but you can’t really see the flight of your ball.
“Everybody comes back to the game a little rusty. Our job is to get them back on track. Many students want to pick up where they left off last year, and we can steer them back in the right direction. But everybody is different. Some players want to get better. They might really be dedicated to reduce their handicap from 15 to single digits, for example. Others have different needs. They might only want a tune-up.
“But you don’t want to take lessons in the middle of the season. I wouldn’t suggest you start taking lessons in July if you really want to improve right now. It’s wise to start early.”
Daley, 47, is in his seventh season as Schenectady Muny head pro, but he worked as an assistant for the late Bobby Haggerty from 1993 until 2004. After that, Daley worked as an assistant pro at Shaker Ridge Country Club, Glens Falls Country Club and Mohawk Golf Club.
Muny opened for the season earlier this week, and the course is already in top shape. Major events scheduled include the Schenectady Classic, which includes a women’s division for the third consecutive year; the Schenectady Senior Classic and the Haggerty Two-Man.
Several area club professionals have switched positions during the off-season. Amsterdam native Kevin Canale is now the head pro and general manager of Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course after serving as the head pro and GM of Brookhaven Golf Course for many years. Anthony Therrien is now the head pro at Brookhaven GC, while John Kennedy takes over as head professional at Kingsbury National Golf Club (formerly Kingswood Links).
Geordie Faulkner is the new head pro at Onteora Club.
COBLESKILL G&CC CELEBRATES
The Cobleskill Golf & Country Club will celebrate its 90th anniversary this season, and several special events are planned, including a chance to try out some antique equipment.
Also new this season will be the Interstate 88 Golf Trail. Golfers who play Cobleskill G&CC, Stamford Golf Club, The College Golf Course at Delhi and Oneonta Country Club will receive a commemorative gift. Call Cobleskill G&CC (518-234-4045) for details.
University at Albany’s women’s golf team squares off against Siena College in the second annual Crosstown Challenge Sunday at Wolferts Roost Country Club. The match-play event starts at 11 a.m. Here are the pairings: Megan Henry (UA) vs. Sara Riso (S); Helga Einarsdottir (UA) vs. Grace Cuttone (S); Madison Walker (UA) vs. Abigail Chai-Onn (S); Pasqualina Tartaglione (UA) vs. Lana Kaufman (S); Annika Espino (UA) vs. Marisa Fiorina (S) and Carolina Juillat (UA) vs. Ashley Nguyen (S). The Great Danes are the defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions. Siena’s Riso has been individual medalist three times this season.
Local club professionals tee off in their first official tournament Monday with the Northeastern New York PGA Pro-Pro Triple Play team event at Town of Colonie Golf Course. Each pro tandem will play nine holes of scramble, nine holes of best ball and nine holes of alternate shot for 27 holes total.
The popular NENY PGA vs. Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Challenge Cup returns to the schedule after a year off on May 2 at Albany Country Club. The top 12 players off each organization’s player of the year point list compete in simultaneous individual matches and two-man matches.
Eduardo Pereira and Joshua Lawson of Albany, Daniel Dagostino of Saratoga Springs and Jack Wennstrom of Westerlo competed in the Liberty Mutual Insurance Invitational National Finals at Pinehurst Golf Resort in Pinehurst, N.C., last weekend. The foursome was among 250 amateurs competing. Three of the four qualified by winning their local event at Mohawk Golf Club last September. The Liberty Mutual Insurance Invitational raised $9 million for local and national charities.
Colonie Golf & Country Club hosts the 15th annual Gator Golf Classic May 31. Cost is $145 per golfer or $580 per foursome when registering online. There is a young alumni discount of $125 for Sage graduates from 2014 to 2019. There will be a scramble format beginning at 9 a.m. Entry fee includes golf, snacks on the course, a cocktail hour, buffet and early dinner at 3 p.m. Call Sandy Augstein-Collins (518-244-2417) for more information.
Eagle Crest Golf Club has added an exciting new event to its schedule this fall. The club will be hosting a Pro-Am Triple Play scheduled for Sept. 16. Teams must include two amateurs or one pro and one amateur. Mark down the date.
Don’t forget that there are many new rules this season. Many of the changes are discussed in the Gazette’s 2019 Golf Guide, which will be available April 28. One new change just announced and not included in the previous rule guidelines is a new local rule allowing the replacement of a broken club, as long as it’s not broken because of abuse. According to the USGA, a club is broken or “significantly damaged” if the shaft breaks into pieces, splinters or is bent; when the club face impact area is visibly deformed; when the club head is visibly and significantly deformed; when the club head is detached or loose from the shaft; and when the grip is loose. Committees can begin using this local rule immediately.
Tom Fitzgerald used a 5-hybrid to register a hole-in-one on the 141-yard fifth hole at Stadium Golf Club.
Last winter, before the flags were put away for the season, Joe Mlodzianowski aced the 110-yard 18th hole with a 6-iron in the Monday Night Men’s League “Skins” tournament at Whispering Pines Golf Course.