Sunday July 3, 2011

Any hole-in-one is special. For most of us, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But for Steve Magargal, it has almost become commonplace. Not many people reach eight aces in a lifetime as he did last Sunday morning at Berkshire Hills Country Club.

But there was nothing commonplace about this one on the 154-yard 17th hole. Precious few complete a one-course cycle as the 53-year-old did with "an easy 6-iron" shot during the completion of a rain-delayed second round of the Pewter Cup best-ball tournament on Sunday.

Magargal, a member at Worthington Country Club after many years at Berkshire Hills, has now hit a hole-in-one on all five par-3 holes at the Pittsfield club. He also has two aces at Worthington and one at Stockbridge Golf Club.

Magargal, who owns Listons restaurant and tavern in Worthington and co-hosts a radio golf talk show on WEEI's Worcester and Springfield affiliates, had good reason to be more surprised than usual as he watched the ball disappear into the hole along with partner James Ryan and the team of Ralph Dastoli and Mike Bower.

"It was early in the morning and I was tired, which is an occupational hazard when you tend bar, and we didn't hit any balls before we went out there," Magargal said.

That helps explain why the low-handicap player hit a 6-iron on a hole where he would usually hit a 7 or 8.

"The ball mark was about 8 to 10 inches behind the hole, so it spun back in" said Magargal, who partnered with Ryan to finish third.

Magargal isn't sure whether or not he is the first to accomplish the feat at the Hills. He said he is going to talk to some longtime club members to see if that can be determined.

This hole-in-one came with an added bonus -- a new set of Titleist clubs went to anyone who produced a hole-in-one in the tournament.

"That was a nice surprise," Magargal said.

Magargal wasted little time checking out the new sticks -- he unwrapped them and used them in the final round several hours later.

"That probably wasn't the brightest thing in the world to do," said Magargal, who admits to a celebratory beverage between rounds. "But I had hit the same set at a demo day and I was frustrated with my iron play, so I thought it might inspire me. [Berkshire Hills head professional ] Josh [Hillman] thought that was pretty funny."

The perfect ending to this story would have been a third-round rally and a Pewter Cup title. That didn't happen. Ryan and Magargal shot a final-round 70 to finish third, seven shots behind champions Bill Tefft and Brent Dietz, and two in back of the brother combination of Jeff and Rick Puleri.

"James played very good, but I didn't help him very much," Magargal said. "I hit some good irons, but I was cursing my putting. First place might have been out of reach, but we might have been able to catch Jeff and Rick if I had played better."

Ryan has been on a strong roll, teaming with Brian Foley to win the Country Club of Pittsfield Men's Classic Invitational; combining with his son, Sean, to win an age division in the Allied Fathers-Son Tournament; and qualifying for next week's Massachusetts Amateur at Wyatenuck Country Club.

Magargal is bullish on his fellow Worthington member doing well in Great Barrington.

"The way he is striking the ball, I think his chances of getting to match play are very good," said Magargal. "He's hitting it phenomenally straight and he is not a nervy player."

Connecticut golfers Tefft and Dietz, meanwhile, made up for last year when they let a three-shot lead get away in the final round before finishing second behind Mark Chylinski and Bill Mueller.

This year, Tefft and Dietz made sure that wasn't going to happen again, building a six-shot cushion with rounds of 63 and 67. They only managed a 70 on Sunday, but still won by a comfortable five shots.

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Kudos are in order for Pittsfield Parks and Recreation Activities Coordinator Rebecca Tefft and Pittsfield Schools Athletic Director Jim Abel for the job they did in coordinating the highly successful Sticks for Kids Clinic that attracted 125 children aged 6-11 this week at Pittsfield High School.

Also, deserving of praise is the GEAA head professional, Jay Abair, for giving the kids a few hours on the course on Thursday.

The program also wouldn't have been such a success without those who contributed their time free of charge to give the kids a great introduction to the game.

Golf professionals who took part included Abair, CC of Pittsfield head professional Brad Benson, Pontoosuc Lake head professional Bob Dastoli and Berkshire Hills assistant pro Mike Hillman.

Others offering instruction and supervision included Jeff Puleri, MaryNell Cella, Ryan Kordana, Hayden Jarck, Jake Matthews, Garfield Galant, Steve St. Peter, Steve Manship, John McCarthy, Justin Medina, Nick Gagnon, Fabio Malangone, Jason Ogasian, Matt Russo, Tajaye Davis, Nick Russo, Jacob Burke and Ryan Abel.

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Wahconah head professional Jim Underdown and assistant professional Milton Torres Jr., who qualified for and played in last week's Massachusetts Open, will be hosting a pair of five-day junior clinics in July.

The first session will be held beginning Monday, July 18, with ages 6-10 receiving instruction from 8 to 9:30 a.m. and ages 11-15 from 10 to noon.The second session begins Monday, July 25, with the same hours. The clinics will be $90 for ages 6-10 and $115 for ages 11-15. Contact the Wahconah pro shop at 684-1333 for more details or to sign up.

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Former St. Joseph's High School star Chris Marinaro will be featured at the 19th annual Red Cross Golf Classic at the Country Club of Pittsfield on Monday, Aug. 22.

Marinaro recently played in the Massachusetts Open and is an assistant professional at Upper Montclair CC in New Jersey.

The event is an 18-hole scramble with activities that include a hole-in-one contest for a new car, a putting contest, raffles, a live auction, gifts, lunch, dinner and more. All proceeds are used to support programs and services for the American Red Cross in Berkshire County.

To reserve a foursome or donate a raffle prize, call Kate Leene at (413) 442-1506, ext. 11, or e-mail LeeneK@usa.redcross.org.

To contact Richard Lord:
rlord@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6236.