Top Amateurs in the State Hoping to Find the “Other Side of the Sky”
There are several adjectives which can aptly describe the beautiful Robert Trent Jones Jr. design at Kaluhyat (“Gah-loo-ya”) Golf Course, site of this year’s edition of the New York State Men’s Amateur Golf Championship. “Challenging”, “tricky” and “shot maker’s course” are all good descriptions of what the best amateur players in New York will face. With an exceptionally strong field and an extremely thought provoking venue, this year’s event promises to be a true test of will for the 144 players who will tee it up on July 21st.
The Oneida Indian Nation chose the name Kaluhyat (meaning: Other side of the sky…) for this track based on the character of the layout, which often brings with it blind shots and secretive landing areas. Contestants truly will be looking for the secret to success on several holes, with visual misdirection being the predominant threat to their safe passage through this out and back loop.
With a final chance Sunday qualifier yet to be played, this year’s event will host one of the strongest contingents of players ever to tee it up for the opportunity for the Champion to hoist the Ganson Depew Cup. Looking at some of the tournament tested competitors, this year’s field looks to be one which will most likely provide an exciting three days of golf. There certainly still may be some fireworks this year, well after Independence Day!
With a career low round of 64, Derek Bard of New Hartford will be looking to extend his winning streak after a victory last month in the prestigious Sunnehanna Amateur. Bard finished last season with a top 100 Golfweek (65th) ranking and brings some great experience gained while playing for the University of Virginia. Cameron Young, out of Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Westchester County, brings a phenomenal junior record to the Amateur and has experienced international competition in Ireland representing the MGA team. Gavin Hall will be tapping into a record of very successful past performances and will be bringing US Open experience to Kaluhyat. While already a member of the US Junior Ryder Cup Team, Gavin put in a great two rounds at Merion in 2013, missing the cut but finishing two shots clear of a name you may have heard before… Speith?
What preview would be complete without taking a quick look at the defending champion, Luke Feehan. Luke will be touring the track at Kaluhyat for the first time on his Monday practice round. Rating last year’s State Amateur as his “biggest win yet”, he looks to repeat but brings with him a healthy dose of respect relative to the rest of the field. Two of this year’s premium events, The Porter Cup and the New York State Open, are scheduled off the week of the State Amateur. This brings in a handful of premium players who weren’t able to sidestep schedule conflicts between the three aforementioned events last year. “My biggest advantage in tournament golf is my ball striking” said the humble champion in a recent conversation. In describing how his style of play was a factor in last year’s conquest, Feehan said “Boring golf was effective at Bellevue”, noting how the demand for pin point iron shots into the challenging greens were a huge part of his plan. With a strong, tournament tested field at a premier layout this year, Feehan acknowledges that there may have to be a few more birdies on the menu and that power golf could be a necessary ingredient for success.
We should all be looking forward to see who gets the recipe just right this year and walks away as the 2015 New York State Men’s Amateur Golf Champion. Kaluhyat is located within the Turning Stone Resort and spectators are welcome… in fact, they’re encouraged to attend. Join us to see the best players in the state cook up a plan for success. But be warned… this year’s competition looks like it’s going to be a bit on the spicy side!
John Cooney, NYSGA Committee