Down the Fairway: Area's top amateurs can showcase skills this week
While the PGA Tour heads to Rochester’s Oak Hill Country Club for the final major of the season with the PGA Championship, it’s also crunch time on the local front.
Many of the area’s premier amateur golfers will be participating in a pair of major events this week, beginning Monday with the Edison Invitational and continuing Friday and Saturday with the Capital Region Amateur Stroke Play Championship.
The Edison Invitational has long been considered the best one-day individual medal play tournament of the season. This year, there once again will be three divisions: open, senior (age 50 and over) and super senior (65 and over).
Although The Edison Club is not long by today’s standards, very few players are able to go low at the Rexford layout because it’s hard to read the subtle breaks on the greens.
Last year, Jim Gifford of Mohawk Golf Club defeated Dan Russo of Rolling Hills at Antlers Country Club with a birdie on the first playoff hole after both players finished regulation with four-under-par 68.
Gifford won’t be competing this year, but Russo and many of the top area competitors are included in the 54-player field.
Meanwhile, the CRAGA Stroke Play Championship, held at Wolferts Roost Country Club, is the unofficial area championship.
Defending champion and No. 2 on the CRAGA Player of the Year points list is Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook, but he was sitting on the fence trying to decide if his game is in good enough shape to play in the championship.
“You would think a place like Wolferts Roost would be great for me, because it’s not too long, and you need a good short game there, but I haven’t been playing too well,” said the former New York State Mid-Amateur champion and three-time Troy Invitational
titlist. “I didn’t play very well in the State Am, and I haven’t played at all since. Maybe if I get a chance to hit some balls, I’ll get a little better. It’s always hit or miss with me.”
By the time I got off the phone with Welch, who also has an Eagle Crest Shoot-out trophy on his mantle, he was just about convinced he should play.
CRAGA point leader Victor Fox, the Albany County Amateur champion from Normanside Country Club, could go a long way in washing away the frustration he still feels after finishing second in the New York State Amateur last month at Schuyler Meadows. Fox, the area’s top scholastic player over the last three seasons, not only led each of the first three rounds but also had a two-shot lead heading into the final hole at Schuyler Meadows. But he lost the tournament when he suffered a double bogey while eventual winner Matt Stasiak of Buffalo made a birdie.
Other CRAGA point leaders include Matt Canavan (Saratoga National), Gifford, Mike Wheeler (Shaker Ridge Country Club), Chad Stoffer (Town of Colonie), Kevin Cassidy (Albany National), Louis Walsh (Ballston Spa CC), three-time Gazette County Amateur champion Robby Bigley (Pinehaven CC), Russo, Dave Pallas (Saratoga Spa State Park), Steve Quillinan Jr. (Colonie Golf & Country Club), Matthew Clarke (Country Club of Troy), former Gazette County Amateur champion Ben Bates (Mohawk Golf Club), David Hayes (Schuyler Meadows), Mike McCarroll (Saratoga National), Justin
Deitz (The Edison Club), Jerry Brescia (Albany National) and six-time Gazette County Amateur winner Paul Pratico (Schenectady Municipal).
Colonie Golf & Country Club head pro Frank Mellet continues to play some outstanding golf well into his 50s.
The former Northeastern New York PGA Player of the Year and member of the section’s Hall of Fame won his second major of the year when he captured the Professional Championship earlier this week at Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield, Mass.
Mellet, who also won the two-day Donald Ross Classic at The Sagamore Resort and Glens Falls Country Club earlier this season, won by five strokes over Capital Hills at Albany’s Steve Vatter. Mellet’s opening-round 66 included a whopping nine birdies, and his 71 in the second round included a hole-in-one on the 170-yard fifth hole.
“It’s just amazing,” said Mellet this week. “I’m still playing some pretty good golf. It’s hard to believe.”
You can believe it, because Mellet works extremely hard on his game. He finds at least a little time for a practice session nearly every day when not giving lessons or doing administrative work at his club. Mellet is also a former NENYPGA Stroke Play and Match Play champion. He also competed in the U.S. Senior Open.
SENIOR COUNTY AM SET
Entries are filing in for the Gazette Senior County Amateur, to be played Aug. 15-16 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Entry fee is $45. Players will compete for net prizes in the 50-59, 60-69 and 70-plus divisions.
Pratico, who won his sixth regular Gazette County Amateur this spring, will be shooting for his third straight Senior County Am title.
Only Schenectady County residents — and past champions — are eligible. Entry deadline is Aug. 12.
- Due to a clerical error, Kyle Adams was supposed to play in the boys’ 15-18 division rather than the boys’ 12-14 age division of the Gazette Newspaper in Education Capital Region Junior Golf Championship Friday. Michael Zhao, who shot a 74, was declared the winner of the boys’ 12-14 division.
- Hillcrest Golf Course’s eighth annual Fundraiser is set for Aug. 17 with an 11 a.m. shotgun start. The four-person scramble has an entry fee of $95 that includes golf, cart, lunch at the turn and dinner. Proceeds benefit the YMCA Domestic Violence Shelter, in memory of Jessica and Tammy McCormack. For more information, contact Hillcrest at 355-9817.
- There are still a few openings for Joe Merendo’s Swing Fore Kids tournament Friday at noon at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course. Entry for the four-person scramble is $100 and includes golf, cart, lunch, prime rib dinner, Titleist gloves and balls, golf prizes and drawings. Call 842-4265 to register.
- The 20th annual Northeast Golf Course Superintendents Association Junior Golf Tournament will be held Aug. 29 at Fairways of Halfmoon Golf Course. Registration deadline is Aug. 26. Contact the NEGCSA at 783-1322 for more information.
- The Classic St. Jude golf tournament and pig roast will be held Sept. 15 at Briar Creek Golf Course. Entry fee for the four-person scramble is $100 and includes golf, lunch at the turn, the pig roast, raffles, prizes and beverages on the course. Entry deadline is Sept. 5. Send entries to Bedrock Inn, 3132 N. Thompson St., Schenectady, N.Y. 12306.
- Saratoga Lake Golf Club general manager Lauren McKay has accepted a job as the assistant women’s soccer coach at SUNY-Potsdam and will be replaced as GM by her brother, Cailean. To reach the new GM, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Town of Colonie Golf Course will host the next Eastern New York Golf Association weekly event on Wednesday.
- Whiteface Club & Resort will once again host the Sunbelt Senior Tour with the third annual Adirondack Senior Open Aug. 28-30. The Sunbelt Tour has been the training ground for the Champions Tour players for nearly 20 years. The tour is for professionals age 45 and older. There will a junior clinic and trick-shot show on
Aug. 26 and a pro-am on Aug. 27. The 54-hole event begins Aug. 28. For more information, call Tom Eubank at 404-944-9988.
- Entry deadlines for the next two New York Golf Association tournaments are coming up. Entry deadline is Thursday for the Women’s Senior Amateur Championship at Wayne Hills Country Club in Lyons Aug. 20-21. Entry deadline for the New York State Mid-Amateur, set for Sept. 27-29 at Onondaga Golf & Country Club in Fayetteville, is Aug. 13. The local qualifier for the New York State Mid-Amateur is Aug. 27 at the Country Club of Troy.
- Despite major losses in memberships from other major amateur women’s golf organizations, the Executive Women’s Golf Association announced this week that 2,000 women have joined its ranks since January. The EWGA, founded in 1991, is the largest women’s-focused amateur golf association in the United States with more than 100,000 working and professional women as members. There are EWGA chapters in more than 120 U.S. cities, as well as in international locations like Bermuda, Canada, Italy and South Africa.
Leon Wrobleski, 79, used a 6-iron to ace the 145-yard fourth hole at Mohawk River Country Club & Chateau.
At Briar Creek, Jane Sautin of Schenectady used a 9-iron to record a hole-in-one on the 110-yard seventh hole.
Peter Laurenzo Sr., 92, holed out with an 8-iron for an eagle-2 on the par-4 third hole at Mechanicville Golf Club.
At Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course, Carol Thompson (third hole), Geoff Dylong (fifth hole), Derek Spagnola (fifth hole) and Bob Roulston (10th hole) posted eagles.
Barb Pahl eagled the first hole while playing in the Briar Creek Ladies league.
While playing in the MAC league at Schenectady Municipal, Chris Clark eagled the second hole, and Carmen Parisi eagled the ninth hole.