Down The Fairway: Armstrong sinks 15th hole-in-one on 15th hole
Mark Armstrong never considered himself to be a superstitious person, but recent circumstances have changed his mind.
The co-owner of Whispering Pines Golf Course recorded his 15th career hole-in-one — yes, I said 15th — on the 15th hole at his Rotterdam executive course last week. But that’s not the only unusual
scenario surrounding his ace.
It seems that Armstrong had to attend a funeral service for a good friend, and although he had forgotten, it seems he also had to attend a funeral two years ago when he got his last hole-in-one.
“I’m definitely getting a little superstitious now,” said Armstrong. “It’s hard to believe that I got my 15th hole-in-one on the 15th hole. Maybe a little negative energy from attending the funeral gets balanced out by the positive energy from the hole-in-one.”
Armstrong’s latest ace came on the 170-yard 15th hole with a 5-iron.
“It was on Monday night, and the hole has a sand trap in front of it. I could see the shot bounce on the green, but I couldn’t see it go in the hole,” Armstrong explained.
“There was a foursome on the 12th tee yelling at us when we came up toward the green. We were just shrugging our shoulders, but they were pointing down toward the hole, so I realized that the ball must be in the cup.”
Armstrong was buying the customary beers after his round when one of his customers reminded him about the last time he made a hole-in-one.
“The guy said that I had to go to a funeral for a former principal of mine right after that round, too. I hadn’t remembered about that,” Armstrong said.
At 65, Armstrong is the oldest of the three brothers who co-own and run Whispering Pines. He’s the general manager, Kirk is the head pro, and Brett is the course superintendent.
“I didn’t start out to be in the golf business,” said Armstrong, who graduated from Mohonasen High School and Kings College. “I was the recreation supervisor for the Xerox Corporation after I got a physical education degree in college. I worked in Rochester, and Xerox had a fantastic employee benefits program there that included recreation and physical fitness. I did that for eight years, and I kept getting promoted until it got to the point where I realized that I didn’t want to do that any more.”
In 1978, Armstrong joined his two brothers in taking over the course from their father.
“We’ve been running the bus-
iness together since then, and it’s a very enjoyable way to make a living,” he said.
“I wouldn’t do it any differently. Golfers are the greatest class of people. The only thing is that I wish it wasn’t a family business that is also seasonal in nature. That combination makes it tough on us sometimes. But we all enjoy it.”
Armstrong said he appreciates the fact that his customers are loyal.
“We heard from one guy the other day who spends most of the year in Florida. He heard about us online because one of the Web sites rated us 41⁄2 stars for how nice the course is and how well we treat everybody. That’s what makes it so fun,” he said.
NEW UALBANY COACH
Former Symetra Futures Tour player Gina Umeck is the new Univ-
ersity at Albany head women’s golf coach, replacing the legendary Dick Sauers, who was more known for winning more than 700 games with the men’s basketball program.
Umeck, a UCLA graduate, spent five years on the Futures Tour with a best finish of fourth. She not only brings her experience as a pro player, but she is also an excellent recruiter who us fluent in both Spanish and Korean.
“I saw the job posted on the internet, and it really caught my eye,” she said. “I love Albany. I played here at Capital Hills at Albany five times, and I’m a big fan of the Northeast. Although I’ve been in warm-weather climates all my life, I like snow and the change of seasons. I think that’s one of the big reasons I wanted to come here.”
Umeck, 30, said playing col-
legiately for a national power like UCLA made her think about someday coaching golf for a living.
“We won a national championship my final year. It was a great experience there,” she said. “The UCLA coach is a legend, one of the best coaches in the country. I played No. 1 on the team as a freshman, and was probably No. 3 after that. I never won a college tourn-
ament, but I finished second a
couple of times and was usually in the top five or top 10.”
Umeck said she will recruit
locally but also nationally and even internationally to build the Great Danes’ program.
“The players here in the Northeast are seasonal golfers, for the most part, and they are probably better all-around athletes because they play other sports in the other seasons,” she said. “There is something to be said about playing multiple sports.”
Umeck said she will bring a different approach to coaching for the Great Danes.
“I think the diversity of my background will be a big asset,” she said.
“I speak both Korean and Spanish, and I’ve made a lot of intern-ational contacts. One of the bigger things I can bring to UAlbany is international recruiting to New York.”
u The 40th annual Gazette Bryce Hume Memorial Golf Tournament, for Gazette employees, retirees and friends, will be held Sept. 16 at Orchard Creek Golf Course. Entry fee is $50 and includes golf, cart, prizes and lunch. Entries are limited to the first 32 golfers, and Gazette employees and retirees will be given first consideration. Drop off or mail entries to Dan Beck, The Daily Gaz-
ette, 2345 Maxon Road Ext., P.O. Box 1090, Schenectady, NY 12301-1090. Make checks payable to The Daily Gazette.
u Jim Fish won the Gazette golf league championship by edging
Doug Hopkins in the season
u David Pallas of Saratoga Spa State Park Golf Course (three-over-par 75), Greg Stopera of The Edison Club (75), David Arakelian of the Country Club of Troy (75), Lance Hope of Schenectady Municipal Golf Course (75), Greg Bennett of Shaker Ridge Country Club (76), David Huestis of McGregor Links Country Club (76), Mike Wheeler of Mohawk Golf Club (76), Mike McCarroll of Saratoga National (76), Chris Gilbert of eClub Cap-ital District (76), Ryan Miller of The Sagamore Resort (77), Robby Bigley of Pinehaven Country Club (77), Adam Bunkoff of Saratoga National (78), Jerry Brescia of Albany National (78), Mike Steward of Pinehaven CC (78), Jim Maynard of McGregor Links CC (79), Mike McElligott of the Country Club of Troy (79), Steve Bass of Pinehaven CC (79), George Joe Jr. of Van
Schaick Island Country Club (80) and Joe Parrottino of Albany Country Club (80) were the local players who qualified last Monday at the New York State Mid-Amateur Local Qualifier at McGregor Links. The tournament will be played Sept. 28-30 at Midvale Country Club.
u Sarah Maiello (two-round total of 161) won the first flight, Sharon Farthart (179) took the second flight and Barb Nigro (201) captured the third flight in the Nick Stoner
Ladies golf league.
u Sue Kearney won the Divots league championship at Van Patten Golf Course.
u The next Eastern New York Golf Association event will be Wednesday at Frear Park in Troy.
u Frear Park will also host the Rensselaer County Amateur this weekend.
u Zack Scala, son of Van Schaick
Island Country Club head pro Luke Scala, won both the VSI and Ballston Spa Country Club championships this season.
u Grantland Rice (1880-1954), Ray Billows (1914-2002), Betty
Deeley, Frederick Box, Don Allen
and William Tryon have been
selected for induction into the New York State Golf Association Hall of Fame Nov. 10 at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford.
u The Northeastern Golf Course Superintendents Association and the New York State Turfgrass
Association will sponsor their annual Poa fundraiser Sept. 24 at Glens Falls Country Club. Entry fee is $150. Entry deadline is Sept. 24. For more information, contact the NEGCSA at 783-1322.
u Pinehaven Country Club will host the UAlbany Slam Dunk Golf Classic, to benefit the UAlbany men’s basketball team, on Sept. 10.
Entry fee is $199 a player, and includes golf, cart, driving range, lunch, beverages and snacks on the course and a buffet dinner after golf. For more information, contact Jerrad Knotts at 442-3036.
u Stadium Golf Club will host the 12th annual Dick Roberts Mem-orial Golf Tournament Saturday at Stadium Golf Club. Presented by the Dutchmen Gridiron Club, proceeds will support the Union College football program. Entry fee is $160, and includes lunch, golf gifts and a 3 p.m. buffet, raffle and live auction. Call Gary Reynolds at 388-6548 for more information.
u The Union College Golf/Basketball Fundraiser will be held at Mohawk Golf Club Sept. 24 at noon. Entry fee is $550 per team, and includes lunch at 11 a.m. and appetizers and awards following golf. The format is either two best balls of four or a scramble. It’s your choice. Contact Mary Ellen Burt at 388-6546 for more information.
u SUNY-Cobleskill’s inaugural Fighting Tigers Club Golf Tournament will be held Sept. 28 at Cobleskill Golf & Country Club. Entry fee for the two-person best-ball tournament is $90 per team member and will be limited to the first 136 players. There will be a 10:30 a.m. shotgun start. Call 255-5127 for more information.
Ken Harrington, 87, used a 9-iron to hole out on the 118-yard 15th hole at Stadium Golf Club.
At Whispering Pines, Shawn Dawson got his second career ace on the 140-yard 13th hole with a
Karl Schneibel used a 3-hybrid for his hole-in-one on the 205-yard 12th hole at Shaker Ridge Country Club.
Vinny VanDetta and Mike
Demars (en route to a 69) eagled the third hole at Amsterdam
Municipal Golf Course.
Don Frey eagled the fourth hole with a pitching wedge while competing in the Colonie league at
Stadium Golf Club.
Walt Peretti chipped in for eagle with a wedge on the par-5 third hole while playing in the Big Bamboo league at Orchard Creek.