It was a beautiful fall afternoon in Dutchess County – perfect for a golf tournament. On Saturday, September 25, 2010, Pawling’s town-owned Dutcher Golf Course hosted its first-ever Junior Club Championship.
Ten junior members ranging in age from 12 to 17, participated in the event that began at 4 p.m. All of the participants were excited and eager to play. Tom D’Ottavio, Director of Golf at Dutcher, explained what “winter rules” were and that those rules were to be followed for the match. The tournament began on time and lasted until all nine holes had been played (about one and a half hours later).
The tournament was offered free to all junior members (members under 18) of the club. They were divided into two foursomes and one twosome.
The junior members who participated (and their scores) were:
Joe Circelli, 52
Jason Circelli, 50
Luke Jorgensen, 54
Joey Bottini, 52
Kyle Christian, 79
Matt Whitworth, 54
Rob Blenkle, 46
Erik Markert, 48
Jackie Unger, 55
Samantha Monaco, 47
The winner was 14 year-old Robert Blenkle, a first-time club member and a freshman at Carmel High School, who shot a score of 46. He has already been playing the game for about eight years – pretty impressive for a 14-year-old! He had played many times at Dutcher prior to joining and said he also played frequently in South Carolina while visiting his family there.
When asked about how he felt playing during the tournament, Robert explained, “I felt comfortable playing. I have played so many times. I had no idea that I was in the lead until I came in. It felt pretty good to win.”
Robert hopes to join the club next year and said he would definitely participate in this tournament again. He was presented with a $25 gift certificate for shop merchandise and celebrated with his fellow players with chips and soda – all provided by D’Ottavio and his staff.
D’Ottavio explained that he had spotted Robert playing alone many times on the course late in the day. He remarked, “I was impressed that he would come up, by himself and walk the course, always practicing to get better. I never did that as a kid. It’s very impressive.”
No wonder Robert won – practice makes perfect, they say. In response to a question about why he held the event, D’Ottavio explained, “I wanted to have the tournament this year especially because of the influx of junior members. I thought it would be a good idea to give them a little tournament of their own.”
He said that many of the juniors participating in the event, had played many times over the course of the 2010 season and that he was proud to have them as members. Not only were they respectful to him, but they were also respectful of the rules of the course, other members, and the golfers with whom they shared the course.
D’Ottavio continued, “I also re-introduced the Club Championship for the past two years and I’m going to bring the Commissioner’s Cup back into play. The difference between the two is that the Club Championship is a match play without handicaps, where the Commissioner’s Cup uses handicaps. This gives everyone more of a chance to win.”
As we were speaking, a member came in to play and D’Ottavio asked him “Would you play in it?” referring to the Commissioner’s Cup. The member said, “My handicap is too high. I don’t know.” Then Tom explained “That’s why this
tournament is a different event. You could definitely play in it and have a chance to win it.”
At $100 per year for a junior town resident (Pawling, Holmes, Whaley Lake) and $125 for a junior non-resident, if you have a young golfer in your house, membership is a bargain. Family and individual memberships are also available. For more information about fees and memberships, visit the Town of Pawling’s website at http://pawling.org/Pages/PawlingNY_Recreation/Golf; or contact Tom D’Ottavio directly, year-round, for questions about lessons, gift certificates and information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845.855.9845. Fore!