Preview: 95th New York State Men's Amateur Championship at Bethpage Black

August 07, 2017

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- The upcoming 95th annual New York State Amateur Championship at the formidable Bethpage State Park’s Black Course will be the ultimate test for amateur golfers around the state throughout 72 holes of stroke play over three days from August 8 – 10, 2017.

Related: Championships Website // Pairings // Scoring // Past Results

This will be the championship’s first time back to Long Island in 50 years and the world-renowned venue is the perfect host for the highly-anticipated return.

The championship begins on Tuesday with 18 holes of stroke play and the 144-player field will be divided into morning and afternoon waves. Wednesday, the field will play a second set of 18 holes to decide who survives the cut - set at low 40 players and ties, and anyone within 10 strokes of the lead. On Championship Thursday, the remaining competitors will play a final 36 holes to decide the next state champion. If a tie exists after 72 holes, a sudden-death playoff will determine the winner.


Past NYS Men’s Amateur Champions

Luke Feehan of Mahopac Golf Club, won the 2014 title on the first playoff hole against Bryce Edmister of Braemar Country Club. The following year, he earned another amateur victory at the 2015 Westchester Golf Association Amateur championship at Rockrimmon Country Club. In last year’s NYS Men’s Amateur at Mohawk Golf Club, he finished tied for sixth. Feehan played his college golf at Boston College from 2009 – 2013.

Doug Kleeschulte of Wiltwyck Country Club, was crowned champion in 2010 at Albany Country Club with a one stroke victory over the field. Kleeschulte, now 28, has appeared in a string of U.S. Amateurs over the years and recently competed in the 2015 U.S. Four-Ball championship.

Jeff Wolniewicz of Crag Burn Golf Club, took the title home in 2008 at Pinehaven Country Club, 5&4 over Rochester’s Tom Muto Jr. when it still included a match play bracket. He won this year’s N.Y.S. Men’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Leatherstocking Golf Club with his partner Jonathan Clark, and earned the same title the year prior with a different teammate, now-professional Billy Gaffney.

The oldest of the past champions in the 2017 field is James Scorse of Stafford Country Club. Scorse’s name was inscribed on the Ganson Depew Cup in 2005 when it was held at Brookwoods Country Club, closing out runner-up John Kircher, 1-up. Scorse, now in his 50’s, has continually been successful at the state level with two NYS Men’s Amateur Four-Ball Championships in 2011 and 2012 at Ravenwood Golf Club, as well as a couple of NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur titles, first in 2013 at Onondaga Golf and Country Club and again last year at his home club, Stafford.


Past NYS Champions

Gavin Hall, a recent graduate of Texas and three-time NYS champion, has been in the national spotlight since joining the college powerhouse in 2013. Last month, the player from Oak Hill Country Club finished third at the prestigious Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club and earned runner-up honors in 2016. Hall is currently ranked 25th on the WAGR, the 15th highest-ranked American on the list.

Locust Hill’s Jude Cummings, won the 2017 NYS Boys’ Junior Amateur last week at Seven Oaks Golf Club in a four-hole playoff over Jeremy Sisson. The victory earned him his second consecutive state championship title at only 15, after winning last year’s NYS Boys’ Sub-Junior at the same venue. He is one of only three players in NYSGA history to accomplish this feat, the others being Ronald Philo in 1961-62 and Tim Kennedy in 1992-93.

Alec Bard of Cedar Lake Club, won consecutive NYS Boys’ Amateur Championships at McGregor Links Country Club and Mark Twain Golf Club in 2011 and 2012, respectively. A rising sophomore at Penn State, he appeared in the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Golf Championships in late May. Last year at Mohawk, he finished in the top 25.

Will Thomson of Oak Hill Country Club, claimed back-to-back NYS Boys’ Sub-Junior Amateur titles in 2013 at Skaneateles Country Club and 2014 at Ridgemont Country Club. The now-16-year-old out of Pittsford, gained national attention after becoming the youngest player in history to qualify for the U.S. Amateur after doing so in 2014, at age 13, at Rochester’s Country Club of Mendon. In 2015, he qualified for the U.S. Amateur again and tied for third at the Junior PGA Championship. Last year, he committed to college golf at the University of Texas, where he’ll attend in 2019. Thomson is currently ranked 662 on the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR). This will be his first appearance in the New York State Men’s Amateur.

Ravenwood’s Christian Chapman was last year’s NYS Junior Amateur Champion, claiming the title at Colgate University’s Seven Oaks Golf Club. He won the championship after dropping an enthralling 25-footer for birdie on the par-5 eighteenth hole to win by a stroke. Chapman, recently appeared in the U.S. Boys’ Junior Amateur and will be joining the University of Delaware Blue Hens this upcoming fall.

David May of Owasco Country Club, is one of only three players to have won consecutive NYS Boys’ Junior Amateur Championships, when he accomplished the feat in 2002 at Glens Falls Country Club and 2003 at Tuscarora Golf Club. May played his college golf at Clemson and was the 2009 ACC individual co-champion. After college, the Auburn-native tried out the pro circuit for a few years before regaining his amateur status in March 2014. Last year, he advanced to the U.S. Mid-Amateur quarterfinals before losing to former champion Scott Harvey in match play, 4&3. The quarterfinal appearance earned him an exemption into this year’s U.S. Mid-Am Championship in October at the Capital City Club (Crabapple Course), in Atlanta, Ga.

Former pro Paul Pratico, who returned to amateur golf in the early 90’s, captured his first state amateur title last year at the 2016 NYS Men’s Senior Amateur Championship at Brookfield Country Club. The 55-year-old out of Schenectady Muni Golf Course earned an exemption after last year’s victory and although Pratico doesn’t often travel too far from home for tournament golf, he’ll make an exception to take on the world-renowned Bethpage Black.

Luke Hobika of Cavalry Club, is a two-time NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur champion, winning the championships seventeen years apart, first in 1998 at Yahnundasis Golf Club at age 30 and again in 2015 at Wolferts Roost Country Club. In 2016, he was one of three players chosen to represent New York on the USGA Men’s State Team Championship alongside last year’s NYS Men’s Amateur champ Tyler McArdell and 2016 US Mid-Am champ Stewart Hagestead. 

Jamie Miller of Wanakah Country Club, landed the 2014 NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur title at Teugega Country Club by two strokes. In 2015, he paired up with Billy Hanes to win the NYS Men’s Amateur Four-Ball at Leatherstocking Golf Club. 

Josh Holling of Horseheads, secured the 2010 NYS Boys’ Junior Amateur Champion by one stroke when it was held at Country Club of Mendon. Holling played his college golf for the Division 1 Binghamton University Bearcats from 2011-2015.


Others to Watch

Farmingdale-native Matthew Lowe, of Colonial Springs Country Club, captured the MGA’s 62nd Ike Championship and broke the course record simultaneously during the final round at Century Country Club after firing a 10-under 61. Growing up down the street from Bethpage, he’s well versed in what the ferocious black course will offer, or take away. He’s headed into his senior season at Richmond University and plays golf for the men’s program. His current WAGR position is 336.

Another hometown (Farmingdale) standout, Kyle Brey of the host club, recently qualified for the 2017 U.S. Amateur. Brey is a rising senior at Barry University and won this year’s SSC Championship down in Key Biscayne, Florida after an impressive three-round score of 12-under 204 (69-69-66). This summer, he’s finished in the top-10 at a couple of metropolitan area events including the MGA’s Ike Championship and the Long Island Amateur.

Jack Gianniny of Country Club of Rochester, was last year’s NYS Men’s Amateur runner-up. During the final 18 holes of the 94th Championship, he made the turn with a 32 and held a lead over the field for a couple of holes but slipped down the stretch. Gianniny, who’s entering his senior year at the University of Delaware, ranks third in school history with a 74.54 scoring average. In 2014, he captured the NYSPHSAA title at Cornell’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Course. Currently, he’s ranked in the top 1500 on WAGR. 

Daniel Gianniny, Jack’s younger brother from the same club, paved his way to victory at this year’s International Junior Masters Tournament at East Aurora Country Club in dramatic fashion. Gianniny, who’s headed to St. Bonaventure to join the men’s golf team this fall, finished the match play final with two consecutive chip-ins, one for eagle and the second for birdie to win 2-up over Billy Watson of Australia. The victory earned Gianniny an exemption into the 2017 Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club. He recently won the section five boys golf title as a senior and finished third in the 2017 New York State Public High Schools boys golf championship.

Arthur Griffin of Lake Placid Club, is a rising senior at Charleston Southern University and a member of the Men’s Golf team. Earlier this summer, he qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship, his second consecutive appearance and survived through local qualifying for the 2017 U.S. Open. In the 2017 Porter Cup, he finished tied for thirteen. Last year at the Men’s Amateur, he ended up in the top twenty, which earned him an exemption for this year’s New York State Amateur at Bethpage Black. He is currently ranked among the top 1,000 amateur players on the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Luke Graboyes, a recent graduate of Cornell University, took home the 97th New Jersey State Golf Association Open Championship (pro-am) title earlier this summer at Metedeconk National Golf Club by one stroke. In the 2017 New York State Open at Bethpage Black, he finished in eleventh place (2nd among amateurs behind winner Cameron Young) at 216 (72-73-71). The Big Red standout was the first Cornelian to make the NCAA tournament since the event began using regionals in 1989, and the first to win the individual league title since Jim Bird in 1986, doing so in his junior season. Prior to Cornell, he won the 2013 New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Tournament of Champions, and was twice named the best high school player in the state by the New Jersey Professional Golf Association. He currently sits in the top 500 for the WAGR, at 475.

Mike Graboyes, a rising senior at Cornell University, has matched his older brother Luke on many accolades he’s acquired in high school and college. A year after his brother, he was the medalist at the Ivy League Championships and became the second Cornelian to make the NCAA tournament since 1989. In 2014, he captured the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Tournament of Champions title. One thing his brother didn’t accomplish, was earn All-Ivy League honors in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, a feat Mike accomplished becoming the first from Cornell to do so. His current WAGR position is 1015.

Ethan Ng of Fiddler’s Elbow has seen his fair share of success in Metropolitan Golf Association championships throughout the past couple of years. He’s won the last two Carter Cups the first at Long Island’s acclaimed Winged Foot and his second earlier this week at historic Baltusrol Golf Club. In the 2016 Metropolitan Amateur, he advanced through the match play bracket to the final, where he fell to Stewart Hagestead in 38 holes. This year, he played alongside Hagestead and was the youngest member of the MGA’s Carey Cup team. He’s ranked 881 on the WAGR. 

James Nicholas of Deepdale Country Club, is coming off a semifinal run at the 115 Met Amateur Championship at Laurel Links this past week. Last month, he finished tied for twelfth at the New York State Open at Bethpage Black with a three-round total of 217 (70-72-75). Nicholas is headed into his junior year at Yale University where he was recruited to play for both the golf and football teams, but decided to make golf a priority and will no longer compete on the football squad. As a senior at Scarsdale in 2015, Nicholas took home the NYSPHSAA title at Robert Trent Jones Golf Course.

David Hanes of Crag Burn Golf Club, was the 2016 winner of the prestigious International Junior Master Tournament at East Aurora Country Club, 4&3, in match play. He was also the stroke play medalist during the championship. This year, in his freshman season at Canisius College, he was the team’s top individual performer in eight of the nine events he played and won individual medalist honors at the 2016 Little Three Championship, earning an exemption into the 2017 Porter Cup. 

Christian Cavaliere of Mahopac Golf and Beach Club, won the 2016 Met Junior Championship at the Patterson Club, 5&4. This year, he won another match play title, the Westchester Amateur Championship, 6&5 at the Whippoorwill Club. He’s a member of the Boston College Men’s Golf Team and is currently ranked in the top 2,000 on the WAGR.

Garett Engel, of Seawane Golf & Country Club, recently collected the 2017 Long Island Amateur title in extra holes at St. George’s Golf & Country Club. He turned professional in 2007 and tested out the mini tour for a few years before regaining his amateur status. In 2013, he won the LIGA Hebron Amateur at Bethpage Black, a track he’s quite familiar with. Engel played his college golf at University of Tampa. 

Darin Goldstein, of New York, who played tennis at Duke University in the early 2000’s, has emerged on the regional/state amateur golf scene over the past few years. Beginning with his Long Island Mid-Amateur title in 2013 and Long Island Amateur (LIA) title in 2014, he’s built momentum over the past few years with another LIA title in 2016, two U.S. Mid-Amateur appearances in 2015-16 and a U.S. Amateur appearance in 2016. In 2015, he also won the Havemeyer Invitational and Nassau Invitational and was chosen as a member of the MGA’s Carey Cup team. He’s currently ranked in the top 1,500 on the WAGR.

Tyler Cline, of The Tuxedo Club, finished last year’s Championship tied for sixth. He’s one of three 2016 top-10 finishers in the field this year. Cline played his college golf for the Golden Knights of Clarkson University and was named as the program’s first PING All-American Honorable Mention as a junior in 2014. In this year’s NYC Amateur, run by the Staten Island Golf Association, he finished as runner-up and was a member of the MGA’s international Carey Cup team. 

Adam Condello, who turned pro in 2005 and regained his amateur status a few years later, has demonstrated a high level of consistency at NYS Men’s Amateur and Mid-Amateur Championships in recent years. In 2015, he finished tied as runner-up with Sam Bernstein, two strokes back of winner Trevor Sluman (Oak Hill CC). He qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2015 and 2016. In May, he advanced through local qualifying for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. 

Kevin Vandenberg of Tuscarora Golf Club, has built up a lengthy amateur golf resume over the years. At age 51, he’s yet to capture a New York State title but has won a slew of Syracuse District events over the past few years. In 2016, he won the CNY PGA’s Central New York Open and qualified for the U.S. Senior Open as well as the US Four-Ball with partner and NYSGA Executive Director Bill Moore. Prior to moving to New York, he was a resident of Michigan where he claimed a Golf Association of Michigan Championship title, a Michigan Amateur title as well as Mid-Amateur title in the early 2000’s.

James McHugh of Rye, who’s headed to Penn State to join the men’s program this fall, finished in the top-15 at last year’s NYS Men’s Amateur Championship and took home the 2016 NYS Boys Federation Golf Championship title at Bethpage Black. In 2015, he won the MGA’s Met Junior, 5&4 over James Nicholas at Paramount Country Club. 

Dante Migliore, of Yahnundasis Golf Club, won the NJCAA Division 3 National Golf title in 2016 after registering an eagle on the par-5 fifth playoff hole to clinch the top spot. He played his college golf at Mohawk Valley Community College. He finished last year’s NYS Men’s Am in the top 25.


2015/2016 Champions Turn Pro

Tyler McArdell, who won last year’s title at Mohawk Golf Club by one stroke over Jack Gianniny, turned professional shortly after his victory, at age 26.

Trevor Sluman, who was crowned champion in 2015 at Turning Stone Resort’s Kaluhyat Golf Club, is now based out of Florida attending Q-School and playing on the professional mini tour circuit.


Championship Quick Facts

Dates: August 8 - 10, 2017

Host Site: Bethpage State Park – Black Course, Farmingdale, N.Y. 

Course Yardage: 7,030 yards, par 71

2016 Champion: Tyler McArdell at Mohawk Golf Club

Format: 72 holes of stroke play, played over three days with a 36-hole cut to low 40 and ties, and anyone within 10 strokes of the leader.

Eligibility: Entries are open to male amateur golfers who are either (1) residents of New York State or (2) members of an NYSGA Member Club with an active Handicap Index of 7.4 or lower.


Schedule of Events

Monday, August 7

9:30am – 5:00pm // Player Registration

10:30am – 4:00pm // Practice Rounds 

Tuesday, August 8

7:30am – 9:30am // Round 1 (morning wave) from tees #1 and #10

11:00am – 3:00pm // Complimentary lunch for contestants

11:00am – 3:00pm // U.S. Open Championship Trophy Photo Opportunities

12:30pm – 2:30pm // Round 1 (afternoon wave) from tees #1 and #10

Wednesday, August 9

7:30am – 9:30am // Round 2 (morning wave) from tees #1 and #10

11:00am – 3:00pm // Complimentary lunch for contestants

12:30pm – 2:30pm // Round 2 (afternoon wave) from tees #1 and #10

Cut after 36 holes to low 40 players and ties, and anyone within 10 strokes of the lead 

Thursday, August 10

7:30am – 9:30am // Round 3 from tees #1 and #10

11:00am – 3:00pm // Complimentary lunch for contestants

12:30pm – 2:30pm // Round 4 from tees #1 and #10


Bethpage State Park – Black Course

 Bethpage State Park is a 1,477-acre New York state park on the border of Nassau County and Suffolk County on Long Island. The park contains tennis courts, picnic and recreational areas, hiking and biking trails and a polo field. However, it is best known for its five golf courses, including the renowned Bethpage Black Course.

Located in Farmingdale, the park was created in the 1930s when the Bethpage Park Authority purchased the Lenox Hills Country Club and other adjacent properties. The golf course architect who was hired to oversee the construction of the Black, Red, and Blue Course was A.W. Tillinghast. The Lenox Hills Course was the original golf course on the property and was converted into what is now the Green Course. The Yellow Course was the last to be built which was designed by Alfred Tull and was opened in 1958. Altogether, there are approximately 300,000 rounds that are played annually on the five courses at Bethpage which all start from the Clubhouse area.        

The Black Course is the most difficult of the five courses and is a challenge to players at all levels. The course is for walkers only and its slope rating is one of the highest in the northeast. It was one of the last courses designed by Tillinghast and is said by many to be his finest work. The narrow fairways, high rough, well-placed bunkers and small, elevated greens help to make this an extremely tough course to play. The bunkers are strategically placed to bring back the notion that a player will be penalized for finding the sand. Many of the greenside bunkers are big, with slopes down to their bottom. A player who just misses the green will often find his ball in the middle of a large bunker, some ten yards from the edge of the green – far from a straightforward up-and-down. The grand scale of the Black Course is by far its most striking feature. From the massive size and distance of the bunkering to the fairway widths, everything about the course is intimidating yet aesthetically pleasing. 

In 2002, the Black Course became the first publicly owned and operated course to host the U.S. Open. The tournament was played as a par 70 which was won by Tiger Woods, who was the only golfer to score under par with a final score of 3-under par. It was viewed as one of the most difficult and exciting U.S. Opens in history, breaking attendance records and creating a boisterous atmosphere. The U.S. Open later returned to Bethpage Black in 2009 remaining as a par 70, which was won by Lucas Glover with a final score of 4-under par. They have also hosted The Barclays in 2012 and 2016, with much lower scores than the previous U.S. Opens as it was played as a par 71. Nick Watney won in 2012 with a final score of 10-under par, and Patrick Reed won in 2016 with a final score of 9-under par. Bethpage Black is planning to host The Barclays again in 2021 and 2027. They are also hosting the PGA Championship in 2019 along with the Ryder Cup in 2024.

History of the Championship

The New York State Golf Association’s first responsibility, upon its formation in 1923, was to conduct the N.Y.S. Men’s Amateur Championship. Previously it had been noted by Grantland Rice that New York was the only state at the time without a state golf association, and thus no governing body to administer the state’s amateur golf championship. 

Sherrill Sherman of Utica was voted the first president of the NYSGA at the association’s first meeting at the Yahnundasis Golf Club. He quickly approved Garden City Golf Club’s request to host the inaugural playing of the N.Y.S. Men’s Amateur Championship. In the finals at Garden City, Edmund Driggs of Cherry Valley Country Club defeated S. Clifton Mabon of Garden City Golf Club 8&7 in a 36 hole match to become the first champion.

Since its first playing, the championship’s format has changed three times. From 1923 until 1969, the championship was decided by match play. In 1970, the decision was made to go to 72 holes of stroke play until it was switched back to match play in 1992. In 2009, the format was once again changed to 72 holes of stroke play, as it remains today.

The number of participants who have attempted to qualify has increased immensely as golf’s popularity has grown. In 1923, 61 entries were fielded at Garden City as compared to 1992, when a record of 726 golfers registered to qualify to compete in the championship at Drumlins Country Club.

Throughout the years, the NYSGA has been fortunate to witness the transformation of many amateur golfers from great players into champions. Included below you will find a brief description of some of these golfers whose wins in this championship have propelled them onto fruitful careers in the game of golf.

 In 1935, a young Ray Billows of Poughkeepsie won in his debut at Winged Foot Golf Club’s West Course. Billows was a true ‘rags to riches’ Cinderella story in golf. At the time, he was 21 and worked as a printing clerk making $17 a week. He arrived at Winged Foot in a $7 car, slept on the clubhouse porch to save money for a caddie, and ended up winning over one of the greatest fields in state golf history. Billows went on to have a terrific amateur golfing career, winning a record seven N.Y.S. Men’s Amateur Championship titles, getting to the U.S. Amateur Championship finals three times, and representing the U.S. in the Walker Cup matches at St. Andrews in 1938 and at Winged Foot in 1949.

Another past champion who would make a name for himself in the amateur circuit was Rochester’s Don Allen. The former Colgate University golf captain defeated the defending champion John Konsek in 1961 at Onondaga Golf and Country Club to claim the first of his six titles. This first win was very meaningful to Allen, since he considered Konsek to be the most talented golfer he had ever seen. Allen would go on to represent the United States in two Walker Cup Matches, the first at Baltimore Country Club in 1965 and the second at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in 1967.

Many past champions would play as amateurs for the entirety of their careers, although a select few would turn to the professional ranks and find success. Sam Urzetta, another successful Rochester golfer, won the 1948 championship at Buffalo’s Brookfield Country Club. Urzetta would win the U.S. Amateur Championship title in 1950, where he defeated renowned amateur Frank Stranahan in 39 holes at the Minneapolis Golf Club. Urzetta became an assistant golf professional in 1954 and in 1956 joined CCR as their head golf professional, where he would remain for the next 37 years.

In 1978, a young golfer named Jeff Sluman won the State Amateur by four strokes over Radford Yaun at Jamestown’s Moon Brook Country Club. Sluman turned professional in 1980 upon graduating from Florida State University, but wouldn’t find immediate success on the PGA Tour. At the age of 30 he won his first tournament, the 1988 PGA Championship at Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond, Oklahoma. Sluman went on to win five PGA Tour events from 1991-2001, and is now enjoying a successful career on the PGA’s Champions Tour where he has won six times.

Another prominent PGA Tour player, Joey Sindelar, would etch his name on the Ganson Depew Cup in 1980 with a record-breaking performance at Vestal Hills Country Club in Binghamton. Sindelar, a collegiate All-American at Ohio State University, fired a four-round total of 280 (8-under) to beat Jeff Sluman by seven strokes. This record four round total would stand until Dominic Bozzelli shot a blistering 277 (11-under) to claim his second title in 2012 at Elmira Country Club. Sindelar turned pro in 1980 and won the first of his seven PGA Tour events at the Greater Greensboro Open in 1985.