Past RDGA Men's Champions

In 2017, Jim Scorse of Stafford Country Club (second from right) claimed the John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial trophy for the fifth time overall, winning the RDGA District Championship at Locust Hill Country Club for the second time. Presenting the trophy to Scorse was, left to right: RDGA President Mark Battle, RDGA Board member Mike Sorce and Chuck Ryan.
The RDGA Men's District Championship - John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial

As the premier event on the Rochester District Golf Association’s annual tournament calendar, the RDGA District Championship John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial is also the RDGA’s longest-running event, having been played every year since 1930 - with the exception of 1943, in the midst of World War II.

In the early years of the District Championship, the tournament was hosted by a rotation consisting of most the original 12 member-clubs of the RDGA, with the format of the event beginning as a 32-player match play competition. This format continued, with minor changes, through 1968 – but in 1969, the controversial decision was made to change the District Championship to a 72-hole stroke/medal play competition, following lengthy debate amongst delegates from RDGA-member clubs. Although considered a “trial” format at its inception, the popularity of the stroke-play format quickly took hold and the District Championship has been conducted in that format ever since.

Only one other significant change has been made to the RDGA Championship format since the switch to stroke play in 1969. As the event continued to grow in popularity, so too did the number of entries, with the RDGA occasionally having to limit the starting field based on handicaps. Following a record number of 169 entries for the 1990 RDGA Championship, the decision was made to begin hosting separate qualifying rounds prior to the District Championship beginning in 1991 – a schedule that has continued to this day.

Through the years, there have been many memorable – and several repeat – District Champions. Jim Weldon was the first to earn the title of District Champion in 1930, but Jack Tucker soon became the dominant player in the event, winning the RDGA Championship five times over the next seven years – including four in a row between 1931 and 1934. In 1947, Sam Urzetta – who later went on to a career as the head club professional at the Country Club of Rochester - won the first of his two District titles, with his second coming in 1950, the same year he won the U.S. Amateur Championship.

In 1952 and 1953, Bob Hill became the third player to win back-to-back District Championship titles (following Tucker and Dan Gaskill) and in 1959, CCR’s Don Allen won the first of what would be a total of six RDGA Championships over the next 20 years. Allen’s record haul of District titles would stand for another seven years, until a rival champion from nearby Oak Hill Country Club, Chip Lillich, won his seventh and eighth Championships in 1985 and 1986. In fact, not only does Lillich still hold the record for number of District Championship titles, he is also the only player to have won the event in at least two consecutive years on three different occasions.

Another past RDGA Champion who has since gone on to bigger and better things is Greece native Jeff Sluman, who won the title in 1977 before launching a long and successful career as a tour pro, winning several titles on both the PGA and Champions Tours, including the 1988 PGA Championship.

It was another young RDGA Champion, however, from whom the RDGA District Championship now takes its name. In July, 1982, 20-year-old CCR member John Ryan Jr. won his second consecutive District Championship - just a preview of the many he was sure to win throughout his life. Tragically, though, Ryan was killed just two weeks later in a boating accident. It didn’t take long for the RDGA to honor young Ryan – renaming the tournament as the John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial in 1983, another District Championship tradition that continues to this day.

Since 1990, the RDGA District Championship has seen four repeat champions, including Monroe Golf Club’s John Kircher, winner of four RDGA District Championship titles, and Stafford Country Club’s Jim Scorse, who has five RDGA titles to his credit. More recently, in 2010, 15-year-old phenomenon Gavin Hall became the first back-to-back District Champion since Lillich in 1986, winning his second of three RDGA titles to date. More recently, Trevor Sluman - the nephew of pro tour golfer and 1977 RDGA winner Jeff Sluman - won the RDGA Championship three consecutive years between 2014 and 2016, before declaring his professional status.

In 2017, the 88th RDGA District Championship John H. Ryan Memorial may have been shortened to 54 holes due to inclement weather, but what it lacked in length was made up for in a dramatic finish at Locust Hill Country Club.

In Saturday's final round, Jim Scorse captured his fifth RDGA District Championship, defeating Jeff March of Irondequoit Country Club on the third hole of a sudden death playoff. For Scorse, the victory came on the same course where he won his first RDGA title in 2001. March, who had led the Championship since the first round on Wednesday, finished regulation play with scores of 71-72-71 for a 2-over-par, 214 total over 54 holes. Scorse began the Championship with a 2-over-par 74 on Wednesday, then posted back-to-back rounds of 2-under-par 70 on Friday and Saturday to finish at 214. Scorse tied for the lead on the final hole of regulation play, then took March to a third playoff hole before winning the 2017 RDGA District Championship John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial title.

In winning his fifth RDGA District Championship title, Scorse became just the fourth player to accomplish the feat - the first since Chip Lillich won his fifth of eight total District Championship titles in 1975. (CLICK HERE to view the final results from the 2017 RDGA Men’s District Championship.)

This year, the RDGA District Championship John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial will return to famed Monroe Golf Club on July 25 through 28 - for the 10th time in the 88-year history of the Championship and the first time since 2002. There are several exemptions from qualifying for some select players - including District Championship winners from the past five years and the top-20 finishers and ties from the most recent Championship.

For those players not exempt from qualifying, there is no restriction on entering the RDGA District Championship, aside from being a male member of an RDGA member-club in good standing. However, non-exempt players must first enter one of two 18-hole, one-day RDGA Championship Qualifiers which will be held at two different sites this summer. All contestants must have a RDGA/USGA Handicap Index supplied by the RDGA. The first RDGA District Championship Qualifier of 2017 is scheduled for June 20 at Caledonia Country Club and the second, on June 23, at Lakeside Country Club.

For more information about the 2018 RDGA District Championship John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial at Monroe Golf Club - as well as how to register if you are a pre-qualified player - CLICK HERE. For more information about the two RDGA Championship Qualifiers and how to enter, CLICK HERE to find them on the full 2018 RDGA Tournament Schedule.

Year Champion  Tournament Site 
2017 Jim Scorse Locust Hill Country Club
2016 Trevor Sluman Ridgemont Country Club
2015 Trevor Sluman Midvale Country Club
2014 Trevor Sluman Stafford Country Club
2013 Gavin Hall Irondequoit Country Club
2012 Jim Scorse Cobblestone Creek Country Club
2011 John Kircher Country Club of Rochester
2010 Gavin Hall Oak Hill Country Club (West)
2009 Gavin Hall Brook-Lea Country Club
2008 Larry Sand Penfield Country Club
2007 Andrew DiBitetto Ridgemont Country Club
2006 Stephen Goodridge Country Club of Mendon
2005 Jim Scorse Cobblestone Creek Country Club
2004 John Kircher Midvale Country Club
2003 Jim Scorse Ontario Golf Club
2002 Tony DiBitetto Monroe Golf Club
2001 Jim Scorse Locust Hill Country Club
2000 John Kircher Country Club of Rochester
1999 Carter Lucas Oak Hill Country Club
1998 Jason Piurkoski Ontario Golf Club
1997 Larry Sand Stafford Country Club
1996 Mike Kiel Brook-Lea Country Club
1995 Brian Bombard Monroe Golf Club
1994 Robert Chalanick Locust Hill Country Club
1993 Jeff Peck Midvale Country Club
1992 Ed Puzas Oak Hill Country Club
1991 Doug Fedoryshyn Country Club of Rochester
1990 John Kircher Ridgemont Country Club
1989 Joe Wilson  Irondequoit Country Club
1988 Mark Dugan Brook-Lea Country Club
1987 Allen DeMino Penfield Country Club
1986 Chip Lillich Midvale Country Club
1985 Chip Lillich Deerfield Country Club
1984 Jim Wing Green Hills Country Club
1983 Ken Andrychuk Lakeshore Country Club
1982 John Ryan Jr. Country Club of Rochester
1981 John Ryan Jr. Brook-Lea Country Club
1980 John Salamone Ontario Country Club
1979 Mike Phillips Stafford Country Club
1978 Don Allen Oak Hill Country Club
1977 Jeff Sluman Irondequoit Country Club
1976 Chip Lillich Monroe Golf Club
1975 Chip Lillich Ridgemont Country Club
1974 Don Allen Country Club of Rochester
1973 Chip Lillich Locust Hill Country Club
1972 Chip Lillich Midvale Country Club
1971 Chip Lillich Brook-Lea Country Club
1970 Chris Kling Oak Hill Country Club
1969 Chip Lillich Irondequoit Country Club
1968 Greg Smith Monroe Golf Club
1967 Jim Infantino Ridgemont Country Club
1966 Gerry Liebel Locust Hill Country Club
1965 Carl DiCesare Brook-Lea Country Club
1964 Bill Corey Country Club of Rochester
1963 Don Allen  Midvale Country Club
1962 Don Allen Irondequoit Country Club
1961 Don Allen Monroe Golf Club
1960 Bert Wing Oak Hill Country Club
1959 Don Allen Ridgemont Country Club
1958 Warren Simmons Locust Hill Country Club
1957 Bill Corey Brook-Lea Country Club
1956 Warren Simmons Country Club of Rochester
1955 Bill Corey Irondequoit Country Club
1954 Bert Wing Monroe Golf Club
1953 Bob Hill  Oak Hill Country Club
1952 Bob Hill Ridgemont Country Club
1951 Cliff Goodrich Locust Hill Country Club
1950 Sam Urzetta Brook-Lea Country Club
1949 Ray Forkey Country Club of Rochester
1948 Bill Chapin Monroe Golf Club
1947 Sam Urzetta Oak Hill Country Club (West)
1946 Gene Robinson Ridgemont Country Club
1945 Cliff Goodrich Locust Hill Country Club
1944 Bill Chapin Brook-Lea Country Club
1942 Tony Durante  Country Club of Rochester
1941 Bill Chapin Ridgemont Country Club
1940 George Trainor Monroe Golf Club
1939 Dan Gaskill Oak Hill Country Club
1938 Dan Gaskill Locust Hill Country Club
1937 Jack Tucker Brook-Lea Country Club
1936 Bill McInerney Country Club of Rochester
1935 John McGrath Ridgemont Country Club
1934 Jack Tucker Monroe Golf Club
1933 Jack Tucker Oak Hill Country Club (West)
1932 Jack Tucker Locust Hill Country Club
1931 Jack Tucker Brook-Lea Country Club
1930 Jim Weldon Country Club of Rochester

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