The Challenge Cup is a must-watch event – The Daily Gazette
For both personal and professional reasons, Tuesday’s annual Challenge Cup between the top pros from the Northeastern New York PGA and many of the top amateurs from the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association is one of my favorite events.
Organized again this year by the Country Club of Troy, the Challenge Cup pits pros against amateurs in a Ryder Cup-style event that brings together partners and individuals in a match play format. There are 12 players on each team, with six groups of two on each side. Each tandem, chosen from each organization’s Player of the Year points list, simultaneously plays one best-of-two-ball match and one individual match play match. There is one point earned for winning the front side, one for the back and one for the total, meaning there are nine points up for grabs in each group for a total of 54 points.
Last year the home pros snapped a four game losing streak to beat the amateurs 28.5-25.5 for their first victory since the 2014 season. The Challenge Cup was not played in 2020 at due to the pandemic, and weather challenges wiped out the 2018 event.
Amateurs lead the current series 17-13-2, although local pros have had a slight advantage since The Daily Gazette resurrected the Challenge Cup in 2005. Previously, events similar to the Challenge Cup were known as Yamaha Cup, then Bob Smith. Cup, named after longtime head professional Wolferts Roost CC.
At one time, the Smith Cup was one of the most popular tournaments in the capital region. It took place over two days and all three Ryder Cup formats (best ball, alternating shot and singles match) were played.
Interest in this event gradually died out until former Cobleskill G&CC pro Dal Daily, who now works in Florida, came up to me and asked if there was a way for The Daily Gazette to sponsor a remake of the pros versus amateurs competition. I went to the managing director of the Daily Gazette at the time, Bruce Donadio, and pitched the idea. Donadio, like many Daily Gazette administrators at the time, loved golf and was all for it. This is how this version of the pro/am tournament started. The Daily Gazette sponsored it for about a dozen years.
The first Gazette-sponsored Challenge Cup was held at Ballston Spa CC. It was also held at Albany CC, The Edison Club, Mohawk Golf Club, Shaker Ridge CC, Troy’s CC and Schuyler Meadows.
One of the best matchups on Tuesday will be an Eagle Crest Golf Club tandem of pro/chief owner Scott Battiste with director of instruction Scott Berliner against Dan Russo of Schuyler Meadows and former pro Joe Fitzsimmons of Shaker Ridge CC.
Battiste, a product of Niskayuna High School, is a former NENY PGA Match Play champion, and Berliner, a 47-year-old Lake Luzerne native, is the all-time winner of majors in the section (29), including 11 Stroke championships. Play over the past 12 years. . Russo, 64, is the Capital Region’s all-time amateur leader in major tournament wins (19, including nine CRAGA Stroke Play Championships), and he’s also a two-time NYS senior men’s amateur titlist who has competed in 12 USGA National Championships. Fitzsimmons, a Colony cop, is a former CRAGA Stroke Play champion.
This year’s amateur team includes plenty of youngsters, with AJ Cavotta, a former Saratoga Springs high school student and current Southern New Hampshire University star and former Saratoga Am County titlist, who just entered the NCAA Tournament; Nolan Crowley of Siena College, also of Saratoga Springs, with Ryan Davis and Nick Lyons assisting veterans like Paul Pratico and Lance Hope.
Pros also include Pittsfield CC’s 2021 Stroke Play champion Eric Mabee, Burden Lake CC’s new head pro Justin Hearley, who won the section’s first two classic tournaments this season, and the winner of multiple tournaments section majors Chris Sanger of the Woodstock Golf Club. , as well as NENY PGA President Rich Scott of Fox Run, Skidmore College Coach Tom Oppedisano and Jeremy Kerr of Mohawk GC, to name a few.
Here are the queues and pairings:
9 a.m. – Tom McGinn-AJ Cavotta vs. Tom Oppedisano-Jeremy Kerr.
9:10 a.m. – Dan Russo-Joe Fitzsimmons vs. Scott Berliner-Scott Battiste.
9:20 a.m. — Nick Lyons-Nolan Crowley vs. Marc Levesque-Anthony Therrien.
9:30 a.m. – Ryan Davis-Mike Stopera vs. Rich Scott-Kyle Kressler.
9:40 a.m. – Clint Lange-Jason Urschel vs. Chris Sanger-Jesse Muller.
9:50 a.m. – Paul Pratico-Lance Hope vs. Justin Hearley-Eric Mabee.
NYS FOUR BALLS
Defending champions Mike Stopera and Mike Dwyer of the Edison Club will lead a strong field in the New York State Men’s Amateur and Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship Sunday and Monday at Leatherstocking Golf Club.
Other top local tandems include Jim Mueller of Orchard Creek with Bill Paulsen Jr. of Eagle Crest; Dan Russo of Schuyler Meadows with Jim Gifford of Mohawk Golf Club; Jack Manning and Kyle Adams of the Edison Club; Hiland Park CC’s David Arakelian with Troy CC’s John Murphy; Joe Marro and Corey Purcell of Shaker Ridge CC; Ballston Spa CC’s Louis Walsh with NYSGA eClub-Capital District’s Ryan Simpson; Shaker Ridge CC’s Joe Fitzsimmons with NYSGA eClub-Capital District’s Ben Bates; and Clinton Lange and Griffith Hunter of the NYSGA eClub-Capital District.
Nick Roney and Jason Symons of Cobleskill G&CC also represent the region; David Smith of Shaker Ridge CC and Nick Brooks of Colony G&CC; Schenectady Municipal’s Kevin Broderick with Capital Hills’ Jim Toomey in Albany; Dave Pallas of Saratoga Spa Golf Course with Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook; Ed Kinley of Wolferts Roost CC with Travis Koch of Saratoga National; Justin Vonk and Greg Hayes of Shaker Ridge CC; NYSGA eClub-Capital District’s Michael Stefanik with Edison Club’s Brandon Tecler; and Dan Ireland and Chris David from CC de Troy.
Sam and Helen Warner received the Most Valuable Member Award for their long service to Cobleskill Golf & Country Club at the annual Spring Swing to kick off the season recently. Sam Warner was a member of the club for 64 years, serving on the board and chairman of the club, while Helen was a former women’s league champion and extremely involved in the club’s social activities and volunteer committees. Mitch Wrighter was also announced as the new golf shop manager. The board now includes Ted Langenbahn, Chris Tretter, Geoff Rightmyer, John Seebold, Roxanne Marks, Warren VanDeusen, Deb Langevin, Anthony Johnston, John LaBarge and Tom Collins. Bob Smith remains club president and Jon “Bear” Briggs remains course superintendent.
The second annual Nine & Dine Golf Scramble, benefiting To Love a Child, Inc., will be held July 22 at the Fairways of Halfmoon Golf Club. Registration will take place at 3:15 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. departure. Admission is $85 and includes nine holes of golf with cart, prizes, Italian buffet dinner and cocktail. There will also be a themed basket auction and 50/50 raffle. For more information, contact To Love a Child, PO Box 165, Clifton Park, NY 12065 or call 518-859-4424. Proceeds will go to Food Forests & Clean Water in Zimbabwe and Thyme to Thrive Educational Programs in the capital region.
The Schenectady Municipal Golf Course is the site of the Schenectady High School Football Golf Tournament on July 9 at 9 a.m. – shirt and golf divot/marker tool. Contact Schenectady High head coach Carmen DePoalo at 518-495-6555 for more information.
David Duval, whose father and grandfather were Schenectady natives, will be the featured player in the inaugural Charity Skins Gaming Tournament to benefit Schenectady Boys and Girls Clubs on August 16 at Mohawk Golf Club. Homestead Funding will be the hall of fame sponsor. A former No. 1 ranked player in the world, Duval has won the Open Championship and Players Championship among his 13 PGA Tour victories. Blaine McCallister, who has five PGA Tour victories and is well known to local golf fans as a longtime competitor in the former Ellis Hospital Capital District Skins Game, will host the tournament.
Two other names familiar to golf fans will also be listed in the four-person skins format. Darren Clarke has won 21 tournaments around the world, including the 2011 Open Championship. He was a five-time player and captain in 2016 of the European Ryder Cup team. Fred Funk has won the PGA Tour eight times, including the Players Championship, and he has also won the Champions Tour nine times. He was a member of the 2003 and 2005 Presidents Cup team as well as the 2004 Ryder Cup team for the United States. Contact Joel Slutsky (518-376-9909) for more information.
29and The annual Great Dane Athletic Club Golf Classic will take place June 9 at noon at Wolferts Roost Country Club. For more information, contact Justin Brown at 518-437-4774 or [email protected].
Airway Meadows hosts the 17th annual Wilton Rotary Golf Classic on June 18. Admission is $100 and includes golf, light lunch and dinner. The format will be a four-man race at noon. Special events during the tournament include a chipping contest, putting challenge, and corn hole competition. Contact Don Wildermuth (518-430-8670) for more information.
The 31st annual ALS Memorial Open will take place on June 22 at the Van Patten Golf Course. The format will be a scramble, starting at 11 a.m. Proceeds will go to the ALS Regional Center in St. Peter. The event has already raised $2.3 million. Admission is $760 per foursome and includes golf, cart, golf balls, packed lunch, 19th hole reception and dinner. There will be a shootout at 10:30 a.m. There are also many sponsorship opportunities. You can register on www.alsmemorialopen.org or contact Scott Daly (518-339-0491) or Steve Michaels (518-772-9489).
HOLES IN ONE
At Western Turnpike, Don Selsky used a 9-iron for his ace on the 125-yard fifth hole on the white course.
Beth Snyder hit a 9-iron for her hole-in-one on the 13 from 100 yardsand hole at Mill Road Acres GC.
Contact Bob Weiner at [email protected].
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