Judging by the quality of the field for the Capital Region’s first amateur tournament, the Troy Invitational over the weekend, golfers are starved.
The competitive juices are overflowing, and the result as a field that was high in quantity and quality.
Other area tournaments altered by the COVID-19 pandemic were taking notice to see if it is feasible to run an event under our current restrictions.
The Schenectady Classic, a 54-hole event scheduled for this weekend, was called off last month. Schenectady Municipal head pro Matt Daley hopes to have it later this summer.
No word yet on whether the Tri-County Match Play, wiped out from its May 8-10 dates, will be rescheduled.
The Stadium Classic, a two-man event that usually kicks off the amateur schedule, is “probably not going to happen,” course owner Greg Hennel texted to me, “but who knows?”
The Capital Stroke Play remains hopeful that it can retain its Aug. 1-2 dates at Schuyler Meadows.
Meanwhile, the New York State Golf Associaton continues to alter its calendar, with safety the top priority:
Men’s Amateur at Onondaga (Fayetteville) was reduced to 54 holes and moved to July 27-28 (from Aug. 6-8). The field will be cut after the first round to the low 40 and ties, who will play 36 holes on the final day.
Girls’ Junior Amateur will be separated from the boys and will be played July 6-7 at Tuscarora (Marcellus).
Boys’ Junior Amateur is July 20-21, starting one day earlier than originally scheduled, at Seven Oaks (Hamilton). Golfers under the age of 15 will be able to compete because of the cancellation of the boys’ 14-under event.
“Any time we can cut a round out and still maintain the integrity of the championship, we’re going to do that,” NYSGA assistant executive director Andrew Hockey said. “We feel like any unnecessary (COVID) exposure through more rounds than we feel is necessary isn’t needed right now.”
No one can predict how the pandemic will affect events later this summer, but the safer route seems to be the smartest road for right now.
That said, let me add that I was disappointed that more safety protocols weren’t in place at Troy.
Flagsticks no longer were untouchable. They were taken in and out of the cups — which were back to regulation depth — as if were back in 2019.
Rakes were still missing, which seems counterproductive. Many more golfers would be handling the flagstick than would be using bunker rakes.
Club officials decided to leave the maximum cart occupancy up to the players. If two people wanted to share a cart, it was left to their discretion. I saw at least one case Sunday of three people in a single cart.
Social distancing? Not a chance.
This isn’t to suggest that there wasn’t an pandemic awareness. The field, which had a waiting list, was limited to 66, although having eight minutes between tee times wasn’t exactly spreading things out. The large scoreboard, around which players tend to congreate, was missing. The Troy staff had masks, even if most of the golfers and club members didn’t.
On one hand, it was encouraging to see a tournament whose stature has tumbled the past several years make a rebound. Cutting the event from three to two days and moving the team competition to its own weekend helped.
On the other, perhaps in a show of how desperately people want a return to normalcy, it felt just like any other year at the Country Club of Troy.
That definitely is not the case.
Two of the NYSGA’s 2021 championships will be in the Capital Region: Men’s Amateur at Schuyler Meadows, and the Men’s Mid-Amateur at Shaker Ridge. … The annual Catskill Invitational, a two-person amateur event, will go off as scheduled July 17-18.
Battenkill: Dani DeGregory set a women’s course record with a 74.
Capital Hills: The long-awaited opening day arrived Tuesday. Despite earlier reports, riding carts are in use. Head pro Steve Vatter has returned.
Catskill: Tom “Yogi” Yannone shot his age with an even-par 72.
Eagle Crest: Chris Reilly recorded the area’s first reported albatross of the season, making a 2 on the par-5, 502-yard 18th hole. He knocked in his 238-yard second shot with a 3-wood.
Holland Meadows: A Callaway and Odyssey demo and fitting event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 28. Appointments are required and can be made at 518-883-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pheasant Hollow: Construction is under way on two new holes, while two others will be taken out of play.
Troy: Joe Quillinan, still striking the ball well at age 75, beat his age by two strokes in the opening round of the Troy Invitational’s senior division.
This should have been the week for the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, but, like most golf events of the spring, the championship was rescheduled and is now set for Sept. 17-20. The U.S. Golf Association still plans to commemorate this week with a series of virtual watch parties of classic Open finishes on its various platforms, with past champions Gary Woodland, Jordan Spieth and Jack Nicklaus providing firsthand commentary on their victories. Fox Sports 1 will have 41/2 hours of U.S. Open programming Sunday, and Golf Channel has offered Open-themed programming all week.
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