Area's top amateurs get home field edge
Joe Ruszas, Billy Shields (three times), Rich Serian, Bill Boland and Jay Gunning. They are the only five Capital Region players to ever win the prestigious New York State Men’s Amateur Golf Championship since the tournament began in 1923.
Despite a wealth of talent, no local player has been able to the hoist the winner’s trophy since Gunning did it in 1986. The area contingent will get another great opportunity this week, when the championship is played Tuesday through Thursday at Schuyler Meadows Club in Loudonville.
This will be the 16th time the best players in the state will invade our area, and because of a conflict with the original host site at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course, the State Am will be played here for the fourth time since 2006.
McGregor Links (1926 and 1982), Mohawk Golf Club (1929), The Sagamore Resort (1934), the Country Club of Troy (1941, 1959, 1984 and 2006), Wolferts Roost Country Club (1952), Albany Country Club (1977, 1990 and 2010), Pinehaven Country Club (1998 and 2008) and Glens Falls Country Club (1962) are the other former local sites.
Area players will have their third local qualifier today at Colonie Golf Country Club for a final chance to get into the field. Ballston Spa Country Club and Pinehaven Country Club have already held qualifiers to send some of our strongest players to Schuyler Meadows, a par-72, 6,890-yard layout that has recently been renovated by famed course designer Gil Hanse.
The club went from having just 40 bunkers to more than 70, and many trees have been removed, making the course much more like its original links-type design.
Dan Russo of Rolling Hills Country Club at Antlers, a multiple Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Player of the Year, was recently granted an exemption into the tournament. Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook, a former New York State Mid-Amateur champion, is also exempt from qualifying. Both could be factors this week, along with Normanside Country Club’s Victor Fox, who will attend Maryland this fall.
GIVE IT A TRY
Mechanicville Golf Club likes to call itself “The Capital District’s Best Kept Secret.”
That might not be much of an exaggeration for this unique layout that is located along the banks of the Hudson River off Route 67 East in Mechanicville.
The problem is that Mechanicville Golf Club has an identity crisis. Despite the fact it was designed by famed course architecht Devereaux Emmet — the same guy who designed The Edison Club, McGregor Links Country Club and Leatherstocking Golf Club — people think it’s an executive course because there are only nine holes.
But the nine-hole layout is not a bunch of par-3s. On the contrary, this course can extend beyond a comfortable, yet challenging, 3,100 yards on each nine when played from a different set of tees.
There are a couple of excellent par-5s that can be reached by the longer hitters, but the real charm of this course is its solid par-4s and par-3s that are protected by numerous bunkers. No two holes are exactly alike, and there is plenty of charm and interesting scenery to go around.
Course general manager Rich Dudas warned me and my playing partner that the course would be playing hard and fast when we gave it a try this week on my vacation. He was right on target.
The greens were the fastest I’ve putted on all year — which might surprise some people — and because of the lack of rain lately, all the holes played much shorter. You had to be careful not to over-club yourself.
The course has memberships, but is open to the public.
If you enjoy a challenge, but prefer not playing courses that are so long you need a cannon off the tee, Mechanicville Golf Club may be just right for you.
And don’t forget to stop by the clubhouse for some food and beverages after an enjoyable day of hitting the little white ball.
PREMIER JUNIOR EVENT
The Gazette’s 16th annual Capital Region Newspaper in Education Junior Golf Tournament, set for Aug. 2 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, is not only one of the best junior events in the area, but it’s also a great deal.
For just $35, juniors get a full round of golf, lunch, the chance to win prizes in three different age divisions, and some spectacular door prizes.
In fact, the door prizes alone, which usually include guest passes to many of our finest golf courses and entertainment venues, as well as golf equipment, are often worth much more than the entry fee itself.
Trophies and gift certificates for both the top three gross and top three net will be awarded to competitors in the boys’ 15-18, boys’ 12-14 and girls’ 12-18 age divisions. There are also longest drive and closest-to-the-pin contests.
The first 120 entries will be accepted in order of postmark. Send entries to N.I.E. Junior Golf Tournament, The Gazette, 2345 Maxon Road Ext. P.O. Box 1090, Schenec-
tady, N.Y. 12301-1090. Please make checks payable to The Gazette. Do not send cash.
Participants must be at the golf course by 7:30 a.m. on the day of the tournament. Caddies are allowed, as are GPS range finders.
Proceeds benefit the Gazette Newspaper in Education program.
u While most of the area’s elite players will be competing in the New York State Amateur, several local pros and amateurs will play in the New York State Open Tuesday through Thursday at Bethpage State Park Black Course.
u Rolling Hills at Antlers will host the Eastern New York Golf Association’s weekly event on Wednesday.
u The annual Capital District Women’s Open, the premier best-ball partners event for local women, will be played Monday and Tuesday at Ballston Spa Country Club.
u The rescheduled Joan Nicole Prince Home Benefit tournament will be held Aug. 19 at Mohawk Golf Club. Originally slated for June but rained out, the tournament will have a $175 entry fee that includes breakfast, golf, cart, snacks and lunch. There will be an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start. All proceeds benefit the Joan Nicole Prince Home. Call 346-5471 for more information.
u The Jack Scaccia Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament will be held Aug. 12 at Mohawk River Country Club & Chateau. Named after the former area bowling proprietor who ran Boulevard Bowl, among other local lanes, the tournament will help support junior bowling in the area. Entry fee is $125 and includes breakfast, golf, cart, lunch and dinner. Call 393-5013 or 337-8128 for more information. Entry deadline is July 30.
u Saratoga National Golf Club will host the Teeing Off on Cancer Golf Classic Aug. 26. The tournament benefits the Coaches vs. Cancer program to fight cancer nationwide. For more information, contact Amanda Medina at 472-0069.
u Schenectady Municipal Golf Course will host the Peter Famiano Memorial Golf Tournament Sept. 8. The event is held in honor of the late Schenectady City School District Hall of Fame member who was an integral part of Linton’s 1960 state championship team. Famiano, also a member of the New Jersey PGA Hall of Fame, was the 1961 New York State Junior Amateur champion. The golf tournament is part of this year’s Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame festivities, with the induction dinner being held the next day. Entry fee is $300 per foursome, and includes golf, cart, continental breakfast and a buffet following golf. The scramble starts at 9 a.m., and there will be gross and net winners. Call Bob Pezzano (346-9297) for reservations. Entry deadline is Aug. 23. The tournament will be limited to the first 28 foursomes.
u The Junior Achievement Adirondack golf tournament is scheduled for July 30 at Airway Meadows Golf Club. The four-person scramble will have an $80 entry fee that includes golf, cart, beer, soda, lunch at the turn and a cookout following play. Call Susan Klippel at 222-0567 for more information.
u Van Patten Golf Club will host the 15th annual Glenville Rotary Golf Classic Aug. 1. Entry fee for the four-person scramble will be $100, and includes golf, cart, lunch, awards and raffles. There will be an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start. The field will be limited to the first 144. Contact John Weldon (399-0048 or 596-0320) for more information.
Dick Andrews holed out with a 7-iron from 150 yards on the eighth hole for a hole-in-one at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.
At Saratoga Lake Golf Club, John Caufman aced the 147-yard with a 5-iron.
Both Joe Rogerson (ninth hole) and Bill Noll (16th) recorded eagles while competing in the Maqua Major league at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Jim Vullo eagled the third hole at Briar Creek while playing in the Rotterdam Senior Men’s league.
As usual, there were plenty of eagles at Amsterdam Municipal this past week. Mike DelCostello eagled both the third and 10th holes, Dereck Spagnola eagled the 12th hole, Tom Push eagled the 13th hole and Bruce Hopkins eagled the 17th.