Spartans, Wellington family set for sectionals
Dave Wellington believes in the family golf plan.
In his dual role, the veteran Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School golf coach can keep an eye on all three of his sons and help them improve their games at the same time.
“I have the great fortune of having all three of my sons on the varsity with me,” said Wellington, whose Spartans will attempt to win the Section II Class A team championship Tuesday at Ballston Spa Country Club.
“One of the things that is really nice about our team is that since we don’t have a JV team, I carry more people on the varsity. They don’t always get a chance to play in the matches, but they get valuable experience.”
Wellington’s oldest son, Dave Wellington V, has been on the varsity for six years. The middle son, Alex, is a freshman, while the youngest, Kevin, is in seventh grade.
“We don’t have a ton of people in the Burnt Hills golf program,” Wellington said. “Sometimes, we have had 30 people, and I had to make too many cuts. My program has gone through peaks and valleys, but this year, I was lucky to get my youngest son on the team. He can’t beat the older boys yet, but it’s nice to have him as part of the team so he can practice and play in exhibition matches. He can work out with the team and learn for the future. Without a JV team, that’s the only way some of these guys get to see the courses we play.”
The 43-year-old Wellington said his sons have different strengths and weaknesses on the course.
“Each son has a little different game,” he said.
“Dave’s strength is his short game. His long game is improving, but he can chip and putt and get it done. As a seventh- and eighth-grader, he got into the starting lineup, and he has been the team MVP a few times in his younger days. He’s done a great job with the shots 100 yards and in. If he misses a green, there’s a pretty good percentage he can get up and down for par.”
The middle son prefers basketball to golf, but he is still a strong player.
“Alex has been on the team for a few years, and even though he’s more of a hooper than a golfer, he still keeps sharp with the sticks,” Wellington said. “He’s kind of our eighth man right now, and in the Suburban Council, that’s a starting spot. He’s a good athlete, and his game is probably a mix of the other two brothers.”
His youngest son doesn’t let the challenges of the game affect him.
“Kevin has the most patience, and that’s a virtue in this game,” Wellington said. “He has the best attitude. Golf is a game of misses. He has a pretty good golf swing, and he’s more of a ball-striker. He has more work to do on his short game.”
Wellington appreciates his rare chance to coach his sons and spend so much time with them.
“It’s a lot of fun and very rewarding,” he said. “I’m lucky to have the opportunity to spend so much time with the kids. There are so many families and coaches, even moms and dads, who have to split up their time to see their kids play. This is really special for me, because I get to see them all the time. It’s big for the family to have that time together. Mom travels a lot for General Electric, so when I’m doing the Mr. Mom thing, it makes it a lot easier having them all on the team with me.”
Although the Class A tourn-ament will be loaded, Wellington believes his Spartans have a solid chance to win.
“We’re hoping we have a home-course advantage. My oldest son is a former junior club champion at Ballston Spa CC, and we also have another kid on the team, Patrick Shakar, who is also a former junior club champion,” he said. “We have a history there, so I hope we have a chance. After all, at Burnt Hills, the football and volleyball teams are so special that it’s hard to keep up.”
Although some golf coaches are teachers who don’t have a tremendous amount of knowledge about the sport, Wellington is a longtime golfer.
“I’ve been coaching since the 1990s. I started out as Tim Koch’s volunteer assistant, and when he retired, I took over the program. I’ve been coaching about 17 years, and maybe 13 or 14 as the head coach,” he said.
“When I went to Union College, I was a multi-sport athlete. I played basketball and golf for Billy Scanlon. I always had a fondness for the game. Once you get older, you can’t play basketball any more, so you turn to golf. When I was in college, I was a two-guard who could shoot the three-pointer and throw down a few dunks. But I could also play golf. We didn’t do a lot of traveling on our golf team, but I went to Union more for basketball, anyway. Golf was my secondary sport.”
Wellington’s biggest regret about his college career was that he never got the chance to play in the nationals.
“During my senior year, we only played seven major tournaments, and even though my scoring average was low enough to qualify for the Division III nationals, you needed nine to qualify,” he said. “We were a couple short, so I couldn’t go. That was tough.”
Wellington said the Union golf team became a club sport in 1993.
By the way, both the Class B and the Class C/D tournaments also will be played at Ballston Spa CC. The ABCD playoffs are set for Oct. 8 at Orchard Creek, and the State Qualifier will be held Oct. 10, also at Orchard Creek.
Despite some rainy periods that frustrated golfers and course superintendents alike, the 2013 golf season had some brilliant moments.
Back in May, Matt Canavan of Saratoga Springs won his first major event at the Tri-County Golf Association Match Play Champ-ionship at Colonie Golf & Country Club.
Local pros from the Northeastern New York PGA dominated the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association team in the annual
Gazette Cup at Mohawk Golf Club.
In June, Paul Pratico won his sixth Gazette County Amateur title, and he followed that up by claiming his third straight Gazette County Senior Amateur in August.
The highlight of July was Normanside CC’s Victor Fox’s near victory in the New York State Amateur at Schuyler Meadows. Only a double bogey on the final hole prevented him from snapping a long local drought in this prestigious event.
Two-time Gazette Women’s Amateur champion Sue Kahler won the New York State Senior Women’s Championship that same month.
In August, Cobleskill G&CC assistant Scott Berliner won the rain-shortened NENYPGA Stroke Play Championship at Albany Country Club, and he later locked up another Player of the Year honor. Later that month, we lost former Mohawk Golf Club head pro Alex Sinclair, who died in Florida.
Dan Russo won the CRAGA Stroke Play Championship at Wolferts Roost CC to add to his long list of accomplishments.
This month, we almost had a local player win the New York State Senior Amateur Golf Championship when Shaker Ridge CC member Earl Winchester lost in a playoff at Normanside Country Club, where he was a longtime member before switching club affiliations three years ago.
Finally, Frank Mellet of Colonie Golf & Country Club, a former player of the year and section Hall of Fame member, beat his assistant pro, Ian Breen, with a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the Match Play Championship at Mohawk Golf Club.
u Stadium Golf Club’s Falling Leaves Tournament will be held Oct. 26 at 9 a.m. Entry fee for the two-person scramble will be $100 for non-members and $75 for members and includes golf with cart, range balls, continental breakfast and a ziti and meatball dinner following play. The top six gross and top six net teams will earn prizes. Top prize for each division, based on a full field of 72 teams, will be $530. Deadline is Oct. 24. Call Stadium at 374-9104 for more information.
u Albany Country Club hosts its Senior/Junior Invitational Oct. 12-13.
u Cobleskill Golf & Country Club is accepting inquiries from outside leagues looking for playing venues for the 2014 season. For more information, league officials should contact Bob Smith at 258-7743 or via email at email@example.com.
u Speaking of Cobleskill G&CC, the club is offering a fall foursome special from Sunday to Friday through Oct. 31. Prior to 2 p.m., foursomes can play golf with a cart for $80. After 2 p.m., it’s $60.
u The 41st annual Bryce Hume Memorial Golf Tournament is set for next Sunday 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 Tuesday. 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.
Scott Powell holed out with an 8-iron on the 143-yard 17th hole for his ace at Eagle Crest Golf Club.
At Mechanicville Golf Club, Paul Coleman eagled the par-4 12th hole with a driver and 7-iron. The second time around the nine-hole layout in the same group, Clyde Driggers eagled the same hole with a driver and lob wedge.
At Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course, Matt Montanero eagled the third hole, Bob Donohue eagled the ninth hole and Chris Croceta eagled the 10th hole.
Bill Waldron holed out with a 7-iron on the 320-yard par-4 13th hole at Rolling Hills Country Club.