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Scorse, Chalanick, Win RDGA Match Play, Senior Match Play Titles at Blue Heron Hills

Written by Dave Eaton. Posted in 2016 RDGA Match Play News

Stafford Country Club's Jim Scorse, left, picked up his seventh career RDGA Match Play Championship title on Sunday, May 29 at The Golf Club at Blue Heron Hills, outlasting his Finals opponent, Zak Ottman, right, of Locust Hill Country Club, by a 4-and-2 decision.
 
For a profile of The Golf Club at Blue Heron Hills
and a history of the RDGA Match Play Championships, CLICK HERE.

 

The RDGA's first major amateur championship of 2016 - the District Match Play and Senior Match Play competitions - were hosted by The Golf Club at Blue Heron Hills. The competitions each featured single elimination brackets with players seeded from Nos. 1 through 24 - based upon points earned from tournaments in 2015 - in the RDGA's version of "May Madness."

By the end of the competition, the two competitors left standing - Stafford Country Club's Jim Scorse in the Match Play Championship and Ravenwood Golf Club's Bob Chalanick in the Senior Match Play Championship - each had tremendous experience, both in terms of winning championships, as well as winning in match play format.

Scorse Steady in Winning Seventh Match Play Championship

Last year's RDGA Match Play champion, Shane Dobesh, did not return to defend his title this year, due to the fact that he turned professional over the off season - but, six-time District Match Play champion Jim Scorse was in the field and looking to atone for being knocked out in the Quarter Final Round a year ago.

In the first round of the 2016 RDGA Match Play Championship, a starting bracket of 24 golfers - with the top eight seeds receiving byes (including the No. 1 seed, Scorse) - began play in the first round on Friday morning. That afternoon, the winners of those matches met the top-seeded players who had first round byes in the Match Play Championship's second round, sending eight players to the next round.

Day two of the RDGA Match Play Championship featured the Quarter Final and Semi Final Matches of the Championships that narrowed the respective fields of the twin competitions from eight, to four, then to two. The Match Play Quarterfinals saw Scorse advance, as well as Doug Kulikowski, Kyle Downey and Zak Ottman.

Scorse did advance past the Quarter Finals this year, but had a tough time doing so, with No. 9 seed Colin Dubnik taking him to the 18th hole before winning, 1-up.

"My second match - against Colin Dubnik - I didn’t play as well as I did the other three rounds and I think it showed, since I went further than I did the other three rounds," Scorse recalled later. "Over the last two matches, they gave me a few holes, so that made it a little bit easier than it could have been, probably, but I played solid."

In the Semi Finals, Scorse and Ottman won to set up Sunday's Final Match. For Scorse, it meant a return to familiar surroundings - squaring off in a solo match to decide a title, on a course where he's won numerous times in the annual Tournament of Champions. For Ottman, reaching the Finals represented a step forward from a year ago, when he was eliminated in the Quarter Final Round.

In the Championship Match on Sunday morning, the Scorse jumped out to an early lead - posting three birdies over the first four holes - and never looked back. Scorse outlasted Ottman by a 4-and-2 decision to claim his seventh career RDGA Match Play Championship title.

"I got the early start today, with the three birdies, so I got up on him and made it hard for him to come back," said Scorse. "I made a lot of pars – I made him make birdies, which he did. You have to give it to him, he didn’t give up – he kept trying."

For Ottman, although disappointed in the loss to Scorse, he was happy to chalk it up as a learning experience.

"It was a lot of fun playing Jim – he’s a great player - he got off to a quick start against me," he said. "I can’t wait for next year – I’ve played pretty well in this for two years now. Can’t wait until I can maybe win one of these."

For Scorse, the victory afforded him yet another opportunity to exhibit his mastery of nearly every RDGA championship he's ever played. Still, despite having just earned his seventh career RDGA Match Play title, he was already beginning to focus on his next objective: the Tournament of Champions at Blue Heron Hills.

"Hopefully, I can do this again next week – a couple of rounds like this and I’ll be happy," Scorse said. "We’ll look forward to that when it gets here and in the meantime, I’ll enjoy this."

For complete bracket results from the 2016 RDGA Match Play Championship, CLICK HERE.

 

Chalanick Adds Senior Match Play Title to Resume

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Bob Chalanick, left, defeated Steve Hakes, right, in the Senior Finals at Blue Heron Hills.
   

The 2016 RDGA Senior Match Play Championship - for players ages 55 and over - also featured a starting field of 24 golfers and, as in the Match Play Championship, the top eight seeded players received first round byes.

After the first day's rounds narrowed the field from 24, to 16 to eight players, Saturday's Senior Match Play Quarterfinals saw Bob Chalanick, Paul Parrone, Andy Conway and Steve Hakes each advancing to the Semi Final round. In the afternoon, Chalanick and Hakes won to advance to the Senior Match Play Finals on Sunday.

In the RDGA Senior Match Play Finals, Chalanick got out to an early lead against Steve Hakes and never looked back, completing a 3-and-2 victory for his first match play title with the RDGA.

Chalanick previously won the 1994 RDGA District Championship, as well as the 2015 RDGA Senior Championship.

"I played a very good player – that’s the match today – his name is Steve Hakes," said Chalanick, complimenting his opponent. "He was real steady – I think I putted a little better than he did today, that was the difference."

For Hakes, the Finals appearance reminded him of the last time he met an opponent - in the RDGA Boys Sub Junior Championship, almost 42 years ago.
 
"This has been a lot of fun," said Hakes. "I'm just taking it the only way I can - one shot at a time."
 
For Chalanick, the prospect of becoming the second consecutive RDGA "Senior Slam" winner - having won both the District Senior Championship as well as the Senior Match Play title, following Mark Battle a year ago - was only as good as his next tournament.
 
"It feels good – but I’m 60 years old, so, I’ll just try to keep winning," he said. "It was fun."

For complete bracket results from the 2016 RDGA Senior Match Play Championship, CLICK HERE.

Blue Heron Hills Hosting Its First RDGA Match Play Championship This Weekend

Written by Dave Eaton. Posted in 2016 RDGA Match Play News

Blue_Heron_Hills_No._18_PAN_SMALLER_BRIGHT.jpg
The 18th hole at The Golf Club at Blue Heron Hills provides a scenic backdrop - as well as a closing challenge - for golfers. This week, a revitalized Blue Heron Hills will be showcased during the RDGA Match Play Championships - the first local major amateur championship of the 2016 season.
 
 
To say that the Golf Club at Blue Heron Hills has withstood the test of time and has been battle-hardened under tournament conditions is an understatement.
 
Through the years, Blue Heron Hills has hosted an annual all-star skins game featuring some of the greatest names in the history of golf, as well as an annual stroke-play championship featuring the best amateur golfers in Rochester.
 
And now, this weekend, Blue Heron Hills will play host to another major tournament for the very first time - the RDGA Match Play and Senior Match Play Championships, scheduled for May 27 through 29.
 
"The conditions here are phenomenal," says Dan Cordaro, the General Manager and PGA Professional at Blue Heron Hills. "We hosted the Western New York PGA Senior-Junior here in April and received some great comments about the course."
 
Such praise is nothing new - Blue Heron Hills has been receiving compliments from great tournament players almost since the day it opened, nearly 30 years ago.

Originally developed by local Home Leasing entrepreneurs Norman and Nelson Leenhouts - and designed by noted local golf course architect Pete Craig and former Oak Hill superintendent Dick Bator - Blue Heron Hills opened during the spring of 1987. The Macedon, Wayne County, course was being billed as one of the area’s top soon-to-go-private country clubs, but to help give the course a little early gravitas, one of the first official events hosted by the club was a sold-out exhibition round played by Hall-of-Famer Jack Nicklaus and his son, Jack Jr.

Soon thereafter, Blue Heron Hills began hosting the local Tournament of Champions – honoring current and past local club champions – which became one of the top amateur championships around the Rochester area, a tradition that continues to this day.

Then, in the 1990s, Blue Heron Hills hosted the annual Hillside Skins Challenge – an all-star charity fundraiser that drew some of the biggest names in the world of golf to the area. Organized by hometown Rochester favorite Jeff Sluman, along with Horseheads resident Joey Sindelar, the event attracted golf greats such as Greg Norman, John Daly, Gary Player - and, oh yes, Arnold Palmer…twice – during it’s 10-year run.
 
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT
 
Today, The Golf Club at Blue Heron Hills is fully open to the public and is under the direction of a new ownership group led by long-time members Tom and Debbie Mayberry – which includes several partners of various levels - who have been working to restore the club to its' past grandeur for the past year and a half.

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The view from the 10th tee at Blue Heron Hills.
 
“The goal has been to bring the course back to its original luster,” notes Cordaro, “and Mark is the key to the whole thing.”
 
“Mark” is Mark Montebella, a seasoned head greens superintendent with several years of experience at a number of Rochester-area golf courses and a award-winning member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Montebella has assembled an all-star grounds crew with the intention of bringing the golf course up to the expectations of those golfers who have played there in the past.

Now more than a year into the revitalization efforts of Montebella, Cordaro and the new ownership group, Blue Heron Hills' 6,731-yard, par-71 championship golf course is beginning to look like the course that hosted so many of golf's greatest names through the years.

This weekend's RDGA Match Play Championships will provide a solid test of those efforts - both of the conditions of the course, as well as for the players themselves - although the competition itself will be new to Blue Heron Hills, which has never hosted a match-play championship of this level before.

"This course lends itself to match play very well," suggests Cordaro. "Especially the closing holes. I'm sure many of the matches will come down to holes 16, 17 and 18 - and a player could easily be 2-down on 16 and get back to even by 18. It will be fun to watch."

A HISTORY UN-MATCHED IN LOCAL GOLF

The twin RDGA Match Play Championships have very different histories - but both feature the best of what local amateur tournament golf has to offer. Spectators are welcome to attend all three days of the RDGA Match Play Championships at Blue Heron Hills, free of charge.
 
The District Match Play Championship for men is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and although defending champion Shane Dobesh has since moved on to the professional ranks and will not be in the field, six-time champion Jim Scorse of Stafford, past champion James Mason of Oak Hill and two-time RDGA Junior champion Gunnar Doyle of Mendon will all be competing for the title. They will be joining the starting bracket of 24 golfers that begin play at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, playing two single elimination rounds; continuing Saturday with both the Quarterfinal and Semi Final rounds; and concluding Sunday at 9 a.m. with the Championship match between the surviving two finalists.
 
The RDGA Senior Match Play Championship, on the other hand, is only in its second year this season, but received such a positive welcome a year ago that the field has been expanded this year to accommodate the demand for entries. Inaugural Senior Match Play Champion Mark Battle is back in the field this year, looking to extend his winning streak in the fledgling championship. Starting times for the Senior Match Play brackets and matches begin following the final tee time of the regular Match Play contests.
 
For both championships, the fields are selected - and seeded - based upon points earned during tournament play the year before, creating an elite atmosphere to open the major championship season for 2016.
 
The Match Play Championships also have a unique connection to the RDGA District Championship, dating back to the earliest days of the RDGA in 1930. For the first 38 years of the RDGA District Championship, the event was conducted as a match play competition - until 1969, when a 72-hole stroke play format was adopted, which has continued to be used to this day. When the RDGA Match Play Championship was added to the District schedule in 1997, it restored the tradition of top match play competition that had been absent from the RDGA for nearly 30 years.
 
In addition to crowning Match Play and Senior Match Play Champions following the final matches on Sunday, RDGA Match Play finalists will also earn exemptions into the 2016 RDGA District Championship John H. Ryan Memorial, to be hosted by Ridgemont Country Club on July 13 to 16.
 
A RETURN TO CHAMPIONSHIP GOLF AT BLUE HERON HILLS
 
For Dan Cordaro, this week's RDGA Match Play Championships represent the start of a busy two-week run of top amateur competition at The Golf Club at Blue Heron Hills. Following the Match Play, Cordaro and superintendent Mark Montebella will begin setting up for the 2016 Tournament of Champions, the annual two-day, 36-hole stroke play championship for area club champions and top amateurs, which will run on June 4 and 5.
 
Because the two championships will be conducted on back-to-back weekends, players should expect the course to be set up for challenging tournament conditions throughout.
 
"We'll ramp it up for the tournaments," says Cordaro. "The greens will probably be rolling around 11.5 and, as conditions permit, the rough will be rough - about three to three-and-a-quarter inches."
 
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The ninth green at Blue Heron Hills overlooks the lake that separates the front and back nine.
 
When asked if players who have played in the Tournament of Champions in past years will have any kind of advantage when playing in the District Match Play Championships, Cordaro said "experience will help. Absolutely. Keeping the ball in the fairway in order to set up the second shot will be key."
 
No matter the outcome of the next two weeks of championship golf at Blue Heron Hills, Cordaro is excited to see such attention returning to the club.
 
"I definitely would like to see us get back to being on the regular rotation of big tournaments," he adds.
 
This article was written by RDGA Communications Director Dave Eaton.

Rochester District Golf Association

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