Champions old and new, club news, awards and honors.
Photo courtesy of USGA
Westchester’s St. Andrew’s Home to the First Olympic Golf Champion
1900 Olympic Golf Champion Charles Sands; (middle) Sands' medal.
When 60 players from around the world tee it up in Rio at the 2016 Summer Olympics, they’ll be vying for a prize first won by a golfer from St. Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson. Charles Sands, who joined St. Andrew’s in 1895, took home the (then) solid-silver championship medal in 1900, making him the first—and so far America’s only—men’s Olympic golf champion. This year’s tournament marks golf’s return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.
100th Anniversary of PGA Championship at Siwanoy
The roots of the PGA of America run deep in Westchester. The first president of the organization founded in 1916 to represent the nation’s golf professionals was Robert White, head pro at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle. The group’s inaugural tournament, the PGA Championship, was played for the first time at Bronxville’s Siwanoy Country Club, which has undergone extensive course renovations to get ready for this year’s centennial celebration. While the PGA Championship tournament this year will be played at storied Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, NJ, the local pros will celebrate September 20-22 at the Lincoln Met PGA Championship, to be played at Siwanoy.
Local Golf Sees Changes at the Top
Both major area golf organizations, the Metropolitan Section of the PGA of America (Met PGA) and the Metropolitan Golf Association (MGA), are undergoing staff leadership changes this year. Charles Robson, executive director of the Met PGA for 43 years, retired at the end of last year. Jeff Voorheis stepped up from tournament director to head the organization, which represents some 700 golf professionals in the area. Jay Mottola, executive director of the MGA, retires this year, after 34 years with the organization. At press time, a replacement had not been named. The MGA is made up of more than 565 clubs, with 140,000 golfers in the tri-state region.
Courses in Transition
Two Westchester and two Hudson Valley clubs are undergoing major changes. On the positive side, Brynwood Golf & Country Club in Armonk temporarily closed the golf course this year to enable a complete overhaul of the course by noted golf architect Rees Jones. Green complexes, fairways, and bunkers will be regraded and re-turfed in the project, and bunkers will be rebuilt. Seven holes will receive major upgrades to improve playability and conditioning. In the process, the course will be stretched from its current 6,350 yards (par 70) to about 6,700 yards (par 71). To tide them over, Brynwood members received special membership rates at Westchester Hills and Centennial.
Hampshire Country Club in Mamaroneck remains open this year, although the ultimate fate of the golf course is still tangled in the courts and village offices. The initial plan to create a golf community with a small condominium building replacing the existing clubhouse was rejected and the owners responded with both a lawsuit and a new plan, to plow the course under in favor of building single-family homes on the property, a step that does not require a zoning change. Stay tuned.
In the Hudson Valley, the Silo Ridge Field Club in Amenia continues construction of a new Tom Fazio course that promises to be the jewel of the 800-acre Discover Land Company residential development. Across the Hudson, Minisceongo Golf Club has closed. The property will become a residential community and catering facility.
Turn Off TV Golf!
Why not walk the course with the best golfers in the world? Among the many opportunities to do so are these four events:
May 19-25 USGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck
July 28-31 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, NJ
August 22-24 Met Open at Glen Oaks Club, Old Westbury, NY
August 25-28 The Barclays at Bethpage Black, Bethpage, NY
Dinner With Davis Love III
One of the most memorable sights in Westchester golf history was the rainbow that crowned Davis Love III’s victory at the 1997 PGA Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club. This year, Love will be honored by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association with their Gold Tee Award July 25 at the Tarrytown Marriott. Love has won 21 events on the PGA Tour, captained the 2012 US Ryder Cup team and will lead the team again this year at Hazeltine in Minnesota. Other honorees at the dinner include MGA Executive Director Jay Mottola, who will receive the Distinguished Service award, and Century Country Club in Purchase, named Club of the Year.
Years of Service Earn Awards
Gene Westmoreland, longtime MGA Tournament Director, received the Ike Grainger Award from the USGA in February. The award recognizes his 25 years of volunteer work at events that include the US Open at Bethpage, Shinnecock Hills, and Winged Foot.
Nelson Long of Century Country Club in Purchase was named 2015 PGA Professional of the Year by the Met PGA. Long, who won the 2010 PGA of America Bill Stausbaugh Award, begins his fifth decade at Century this year.
John Kennedy, director of golf at Westchester Country Club, was awarded the Sam Snead Award for contributions to golf by the Met PGA. Kennedy has also received two national awards, the 2010 Horton Smith and the 2012 Patriot Award from the PGA of America.
Home Green on TV
Armonk’s Home Green Advantage (HGA) played an important role in the debut of Golf Magazine’s new TV show, Golf Live. The studio set in Manhattan includes a 7’x12’ putting green designed by HGA’s Michael Lehrer and built at his shop in Westchester. “I was thrilled to be able to create a custom green that could fit their needs,” Lehrer says. “I am looking forward to watching the pros test it out on camera.” The design includes a collar around the green and a special border around the sides. It was made portable, to move around to different places in the studio as needed.