With most of the major events in the books and the falling leaves on the horizon, here are my top 10 local golf stories as I wrap up this column for the season.
10. Section II finally allows girls scholastic varsity teams. Almost all of the Suburban Council is fielding all-girls teams separate from the boys this fall, and they will compete in sectionals in October.
9. Queensbury Country Club standout Mary Sicard, who has several ties to the Capital Region, wins her third New York State Women’s Senior Amateur at the Bristol Harbour Golf Club in Canandaigua. Sicard studied at Siena College as well as UAlbany, and she also won the now defunct Gazette Women’s Best Ball championship.
8. Scott Berliner of Luzerne won his ninth consecutive Northeastern New York PGA Stroke Play Championship at Wolferts Roost CC. Berliner, an assistant pro at Hiland Park Golf Club who also won the NENY PGA Assistants crown this week, is on pace to capture the section’s player of the year award for the ninth straight time. Remarkably, he has an all-time best 21 NENY PGA major titles.
7. Susan Kahler of Ballston Spa Country Club wins her second Northeastern Women’s Golf Association Championship at McGregor Links CC to grab the local ladies’ crown. Kahler is also a former NYS Senior Women’s Amateur winner, two-time Gazette Women’s Amateur champion and 21-time club champ at Ballston Spa CC.
6. Jim Mueller grabs his fifth Schenectady Senior Classic trophy at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. The retired postal employee and former assistant basketball coach at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons also has eight regular Schenectady Classic titles.
5. USC graduate Robin Ree wins the Symetra Tour’s CDPHP Championship at Capital Hills at Albany. UAlbany head women’s golf coach Colleen Cashman-McSween and Siena graduate Sara Riso represented the area as sponsors’ exemptions. The Capital Region has hosted a Symetra Tour event, the official feeder system for the LPGA, every summer since 1984, with the exception of the 1999 season.
4. Schalmont High School and Siena College graduate Bryan Bigley nearly won his first Korn Ferry Tour (formerly the Web.com Tour) title, tying for second after losing to winner Henrik Norlander of Sweden on the third playoff hole of the Wichita Open at Crestview Country Club. He picked up a career-best check for $41,000.
3. Kelly Borden, a 40-year-old Gloversville math teacher living in Broadalbin, not only collected his first career hole-in-one with a 3-hybrid on the 214-yard 12th hole at Colonie G&CC, but he also earned his first trip to the New York State Men’s Amateur as the co-medalist in the local qualifier.
2. Skidmore College graduate Ben Bates won his second Schenectady Classic title by shooting a 3-under-par 69 and rallying past Lance Hope at rain-drenched Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. The 37-year-old Bates has been a longtime standout at Mohawk Golf Club and is also a former NYS Junior Boys champ.
1. Former Union College quarterback Chad Stoffer, a two-time Tri-County Golf Association Match Play titlist who once competed in the USGA Four-Ball Championship, became the men’s amateur king of the hill by winning the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play Championship at Schuyler Meadows Club. Stoffer is a Niskayuna resident who plays out of Town of Colonie Golf Course.
Former PGA of America president Derek Sprague, the longtime head pro and general manager at Malone Golf Club in the local Northeastern New York PGA section, has been elected into the PGA of America Hall of Fame. Sprague is currently the general manager of TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
The month of September includes several important tournaments, including the Normanside Invitational this weekend, the local qualifier for the New York State Men’s Mid-Amateur Thursday at Town of Colonie, the Bill Moll Triple Play at Eagle Crest GC Sept. 23, the seventh annual WNYT Capital Region Golf Championship at Colonie G&CC Sept. 28 and Haggerty Two-Man at Schenectady Municipal Sept. 28-29.
Local club pros also still have several majors on their schedule, including the NENY PGA Professional Championship Tuesday and Wednesday at Saratoga Spa Golf Course, the NENY PGA Match Play Championship at Colonie G&CC Sept. 24-25 and the Tour Championship/OMEGA Champions Cup at Albany CC Oct. 8-9.
Bill Toomey posted a hole-in-one on the ninth hole at Pinehaven CC during the club’s President’s Cup.
At Schenectady Municipal, Bill Schaaf aced the third hole with an 8-iron.
Jim Varsoke used a 7-iron on the 115-yard 15th hole to record a hole-in-one at Mill Road Acres Golf Club.
Jim Sullivan got his seventh career hole-in-one when he aced the 11th hole.
Joseph DiDomenico scored his first career hole-in-one on the 17th hole at Eagle Crest Golf Club.
David Moore eagled the 14th hole while competing in the Whitney Red golf league at Mohawk River CC & Chateau.
There were two eagles at Mechanicville Golf Club. Clyde Driggers got one on the 12th hole, and Trevor Witkop recorded his on the 16th hole.