Down The Fairway: Connolly among favorites this week
For most 68-year-old golfers, their best years are well behind them.
But Chuck Connolly still dreams of championships, and believe it or not, the Kingswood Links Golf Club member should be among the favorites to win the New York State Senior & Super Senior Amateur Championship Tuesday through Thursday at Normanside Country Club.
At a time when a majority of his peers are moving up to the senior tees, Connolly, known as the “King of the ENYGA,” is still a scratch player. How could this possibly be?
Remarkably, Connolly’s game is still incredibly sharp. He’s won 15 of the 18 Eastern New York Golf Association tournaments he’s competed in this summer, and he’s been very competitive in all of his individual or best-ball events. Connolly, the former Queensbury track coach, plays virtually every day and is in excellent shape.
“I’ve been shooting in the 60s every week,” he said. “I’ve been playing very well this season.”
Connolly, this year’s honorary captain in the annual Gazette Cup competition between the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association and the Northeastern New York PGA, has an outstanding resume, especially in senior events.
He’s won the State Senior Amat-eur three times, in 2000 at McConnellsville Golf Club, in 2008, when it was held locally again at Normanside Country Club, and in 2010, when it was hosted by Wayne Hills Country Club. He’s also been the State Super Senior Amateur champion, for players 65 and older, for the last three years, including last year’s event at Wolferts Country Club.
Winner of several hundred ENYGA events and 26 club championships, Connolly knows that he won’t have too many more chances to bring home such a prestigious trophy.
“This might be my last one,” he said. “Three-day tournaments are becoming harder for me. You’ve also got your practice round, and there’s a lot of driving and traveling involved. But I feel I still have a chance this year. I usually don’t have many horrible days on the course, unless I lose control of my brain, which happens from time to time.”
Connolly said he has checked out the entries for this year’s event, and he feels he can compete with most of the field.
“All the low handicap guys from this area are people I know. The few ones I don’t know are from out of the area,” he said. “I think the fact that it will be played at Normanside is an advantage for me. Normanside will be a new course for some of the younger guys. It’s very difficult to show up at a course like Normanside without a lot of local knowledge. I’ve played it enough down through the years, plus I have a good history there, having won the State Senior Amateur there before. I also shot a 64 in an ENYGA event there. I’ve got some good feelings about that course.”
Connolly, who recently finished runner-up to a much younger John Korniak in the Kingswood club championship, admitted that he’s not thrilled about the tough par-3s at Normanside, but at least he knows what to expect.
“Those uphill, blind par-3s are the thing I really don’t like about the course, but they have some great par-4s,” he said.
Connolly has the best handicap index in the field, with a plus-2.4.
Other top local players include two-time Gazette County Amateur Champion Bob Cooper of Orchard Creek (plus-1.7), Kevin Broderick (0.3), Eagle Crest general manager and five-time Saratoga County Amateur senior champion Bill Paulsen Sr. (1.7), John Donovan of Rolling Hills (1.9), Earl Winchester of the host club (2.1) and John Reagan of Western Turnpike (2.9) .
Former Super Senior Amateur champion Ralph Maru of Van Patten (5.8) is a threat to win his div-ision once again.
It would have been interesting to see how Dan Russo of Rolling Hills at Antlers would have fared. Russo, undoubtedly one of the top players in the area at any level over the last three decades, would have been a rookie at age 55 — and perhaps one of the top two or three favorites to win — but he had a scheduling conflict.
u Speaking of Russo, he teamed up with Dave Hayes of Schuyler Meadows to win the Wolferts Roost Invitational last weekend.
u The 41st annual Bryce Hume Memorial Golf Tournament is set for Oct. 6 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. Entry fee is $50 and includes golf, cart, lunch and prizes for gross and Calloway net. Gazette employees, retirees and guests are eligible, but employees and retirees will be given first consideration. Entry deadline is Oct. 1. Entries will be limited to the first 32 players. Tee times begin around 8 a.m. Drop off or mail entries to Bob Weiner, 2345 Maxon Road Ext., P.O. Box 1090, Schenectady, NY 12301-1090. Be sure to include the $50 payment, and make checks payable to The Daily Gazette Co.
u NewsChannel 13 and Colonie Golf & Country Club will sponsor a unique event called the Capital Region Golf Championship Sept. 28. There will be four tourn-ament divisions: individual gross, individual net, two-man team gross and two-man team net. Champ-ionships will be awarded in each division, and the winners will be announced on WNYT and WNYA as the “Capital Region’s Best.”
Entry fee is $60 per player. Carts are not required, but are available for rent in the pro shop. Registration deadline is Sept. 26. For more information, contact Colonie Golf & Country Club.
u The Northeastern New York PGA will conduct its Match Play Championship, the final major of the season, Tuesday and Wednesday at Mohawk Golf Club. Competitors qualified at last month’s Stroke Play Championship at Albany Country Club.
u Bob Weiner won the Gazette league championship at Van Patten Golf Club by a half-point over Doug Hopkins and a point over Jim Fish in the closest finish in the league’s 24-year history. Hopkins had the league’s lowest stroke average.
u Shaker Ridge Country Club course superintendent Jim Seaman is hosting a golf tournament Sept. 30 to support his sister, LeeAnn, as she battles breast cancer. Entry fee for the four-person scramble will be $125 for singles or $500 per foursome. Entry fee includes golf cart, lunch, beverages and golf. There will be a cocktail
reception following play. There will be raffles and prizes. Contrib-utions are also welcome. There will be a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. Contact Shaker Ridge CC (869-5101) for more information.
u Jennifer Shoemaker, of the Albany/Capital Region, won low net in the fourth flight for players with handicap indexes between 32.1 and 40.4 in the Executive Women’s Golf Association Championship Finals at the Wigwam Resort and Spa in Litchfield, Ariz., last week. The 36-hole event consisted of 220 women who advanced beyond 117 local chapter qualifiers.
u The team of Steve Watts, Bob Ceglerski, Tom Patterson and Brad Gardner shot a 17-under-par 55 to win the low gross title in the Peter Famiano Memorial Golf Tourn-ament last week at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. The foursome registered four eagles. Winning low net with a 52 were Mark Gettleman, Jason Gettleman, Josh Gettleman and Matt Bosworth. A total of 29 teams competed in the event, which was part of the Schen-ectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame festivities.
u An eagle on the 11th hole in the final round helped Michael Kelly (73-69-142) win the Rensselaer County Amateur last weekend at Frear Park. He beat Dave Moor-adian (71-74-145) by three shots.
u Schenectady Municipal Golf Course will host the final Eastern New York Golf Association tourn-ament of the season on Tuesday.
Peter D’Aloia holed out with a 3-wood for a hole-in-one on the 118-yard third hole at Eagle Crest Golf Club.
At Stadium Golf Club, Mary Ellen Shelby used a 7-iron for her ace on the 100-yard fifth hole.
John Sheckton posted a hole-in-one with a 9-iron on the 125-yard fourth hole at Amsterdam Mun-icipal Golf Course.
John Chambala eagled the
550-yard 18th hole at Briar Creek while playing in the St. Joseph’s A.C. league.
Thomas Fitzgerald eagled the 285-yard, par-4 fourth hole at Stadium Golf Club.
Joe Shea holed out with an 8-iron for an eagle on the par-4 sixth hole at Mechanicville Golf Club.
Tom Christoffel eagled the 12th hole at Schenectady Municipal.
At Amsterdam Municipal, Tim Gardinier eagled the fifth hole, Alex Bond eagled both the 12th and the 17th holes, and Joe Taylor eagled the 17th hole.