Tee to Green: Matt Scarafoni continues family legacy at Country Club of Pittsfield
Matt Scarafoni captured his 14th title last weekend, cruising to a 25-shot victory over defending champion Tom Mooney with a 54-hole total of 3-over par 216. His older brother Todd, now a Class A PGA professional, won the title three times before turning pro and their father, Gary, started the dynasty with four victories, the first coming in 1986 when he was 44.
"It's definitely fun to walk into the locker room and see my brother's and father's names up there with mine," Scarafoni said. "The Country Club and the golf course were a big part of our growing up together. It has always given us common ground."
After being unable to play golf last summer because of torn hand ligaments, and playing only occasionally the prior few years when he was coaching his baseball-playing sons Jack and Luke, this summer has been a comeback season for the 46-year-old.
"I started working almost every day starting in the winter," he said. "My goal was to get physically fit, get my swing back to where it should be and play as many tournament rounds as I could this summer."
Although Scarafoni says there is still work to do, the results have been impressive.
Prior to his wire-to-wire victory, he finished second in the Berkshire Singles at Berkshire Hills Country Club, losing in a playoff to Altamont, N.Y. veteran Jim Mueller, and earlier teamed with Chris Ferriter (The Orchards) to finish second in the Pewter Cup. He also partnered with Stockbridge Golf Club's Chris Shields to shoot an impressive 8-under 62 for medalist honors in Wyantenuck Country Club's Four-Ball Invitational before the duo was upset in the first round of match play.
Scarafoni gives much of the credit for his resurgence to CC of Pittsfield head professional Eric Mabee.
"Eric challenged me about the way I think on the golf course," Scarafoni said. "He wanted me to go through a thought process before every shot I hit. Now, I go through a check list before every shot and it has really helped me minimize my mistakes."
Mabee, who worked under Craig Harmon Jr. of the famous golf-teaching Harmon family at Oak Hills Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., before he arrived in Pittsfield, also has had an impact on Scarafoni's swing mechanics.
"He has a great eye when it comes to the swing," Scarafoni said. "He's been a real game-changer for me and his assistant, Matt Kiehle, has also helped me. Playing golf with them at the Country Club has made me a better golfer."
When discussing his rounds of 74, 72 and 70 in the club championship, Mabee's impact on the champion's mental game were obvious.
"My goal was not to make any big numbers and to focus on every shot," said Scarafoni. "In the first round, I just muddled along but I didn't have any double bogeys. On day two, I hit to the center of the greens to build a substantial lead, and in the final round I hit it very well and played very safely."
It's also been a strong summer for Todd, who is a pro at Bass Rocks Golf Club in Gloucester. He finished second in the New England PGA Section's Senior Championship earlier this month to qualify for the Senior PGA National Championship (Sept. 26-Oct. 1) at Desert Mountain, Ariz. The 50-year-old, who has had four top-10 finishes in 10 section events, finished at 6-under 134 to lose by one shot to section star John Hickson.
"My brother is having an unbelievable summer," Matt said. "He's found a rhythm and when he gets it going he is a tremendous player."
The family aspect of the game is never forgotten by the Scarafonis.
"I try to play with my dad at least a couple of times a week and my mother (Carol) also plays and gets it around pretty well," Scarafoni said. "We are all fortunate to have golf in our lives."
And, as all of us who play know, you never stop learning.
"It continues to be fun to win, but what I like the most about golf in that no matter what happens the journey never ends," Scarafoni said.
Two of Pittsfield's other three courses have also crowned club champions.
At GEAA, Tom O'Brien, with rounds of 82 and 80, edged out Bob Dus by one shot to successfully defend the men's title he won in 2016. The women's championship went to Bonnie Gilbert while Liam Fitzgibbons walked away with the junior championship.
The defending men's champion also prevailed at Pontoosuc Lake Country Club with Gary Manarchik finishing at 11-over 221 (73-73-75) to prevail by 12 shots over Dave Viale. Ron Bordeau was third, another five shots back.
Winning the net championship was Craig Rand with a 217 total. Jim Driscoll finished second at 225. Renowned local author Kevin O'Hara took the senior championship with a 36-hole net score of 146.
Earlier in the month, Wahconah Country Club held its club championship with Ted Boraski claiming the men's title and Patty Peltier taking the women's championship. Rich Rowe finished as the men's runner-up while Sue Vigeant finished second behind Peltier.
It's been a particularly good month for Peltier — she also captured the 2017 Allied Women's Championship while leading Wahconah to the team championship at Waubeeka Golf Links.
Some of the best players in the region took part in a U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier at Berkshire Hills on Wednesday with three golfers earning spots for this year's championship in October at the Capital City Club in Atlanta.
Taking medalist honors was Boston's Tommy Parker with a 2-under par 70. Getting the other two spots up for grabs in the 50-player field were New Bedford's Kevin Silva, who shot a 71, and Tyler Cooke of Warwick, R.I., who finished at even-par 72.
The two alternate spots went to Shirley's J.C. Guthrie and Connecticut amateur legend Dave Szewczul, who both shot 73s. Guthrie and Szewczul had to survive a playoff with nine-time Massachusetts Golf Association Player of the Year Frank Vana Jr. and two-time Mass. Amateur champion Mike Calef to advance.
Jim Mueller, of Altamont, N.Y., who recently won the Berkshire Singles championship over the same layout, finished with a 74.
Wahconah Country Club's Paul Briggs, the only golfer from a Berkshire County course in the field, shot an 85.
Another USGA event will be played in the county on Wednesday when Wahconah hosts a qualifier for the 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, which will be played next May at the Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Fla.
The host club's members will have two teams to root for. Thomas Czelusniak and Bill Yurko, who won the Allied Senior Championship earlier this summer, will be in the first group teeing off at 8 a.m. and Paul Briggs will team with Scott Hurley in the second foursome.
The other team with county ties features Stockbridge Golf Club's Matt Ortega, who combined with John Dahrouge to win this year's Allied Four-Ball title. His partner will be Framingham's Michael Martin
Several duos include golfers with strong past performances over the picturesque and challenging par-71 layout. Connecticut's Brent Dietz is fresh off of winning his fifth Little Brown Jug title, combining with Bill Tefft as the pair won for the third time in four years. Dietz will be playing with Guy Antonacci, another Connecticut resident.
Longmeadow Country Club's A.J. Oleksak, who teamed with Pete Aliminas to win the Jug four times, will play with Pat Pio, who is also a Longmeadow member.
The Loudonville, N.Y. pairing of Tanner Donovan and Sean Puleo arrive in good form, having recently captured the Wyantenuck Four-Ball Invitational. Another team to watch will feature past Mass. Amateur champion Andy Drohen and Doug Clapp, a longtime force in state-level tournaments.
In last week's column on new MCLA golf coach Peter Egazarian, I referred to a program that he has instituted for golfers ages 13-17 at Taconic Golf Club simply as a junior golf league. To be precise, it is The Taconic Junior Elite Program.
Reach Richard Lord at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-281-2226.
Berkshire County Senior Fall Series
At Worthington Golf Club
1. Jimmy Crews and Pat Grogan, 73. 2. Dick Rivers and Jack Bartow, 74. 3. Mike Rybka and Rich Vanalphen, 76. 4. Doug Link and Doug Reed, 77.
1. John Rybka and Wayne Shutts, 68. 2. Jim Remillard and Bruce Singer, 69.5. 3. Wally Fritz and Bill Lyon, 70. 4. Jerry Mullin and Bill Bryce, 70.5.
1. Dean Pope and Mark Gilligan, 70. 2. Fred Goerlach and Ralph y Dastoli, 71. 3. Steve Wood and Paul Borelli, 73. 4. Dennis Dickenson and Mike Koperniak, 76.
1. Mike Delgrande and John Dawley, 65. 2. Bill Gates and Mike Cartier, 67. 3. Tom Wiensek and Dave Aitken, 68.5. 4. Peter Manzolini and Arthur Holmes, 71.
Berkshire County Senior Golf Association
at Berkshire Hills Country Club
1. Paul Zdanis, Wahconah CC, 78. 2 Doug Reed, Worthington GC, 82. 3. Doug George, Amherst CC, 85.
Scott Rote, Wyantenuck CC, 70. 2. Mike Kiriakedes, Wyantenuck CC. 3. (tie) Paul Waite, Worthington GC, 73; Anthony Gulotta, Wyantenuck CC, 73.
Jim Balfanz, Stockbridge GC, 81. 3. Sam Lussier, Amherst GC, 83. 4. Doug Link, Worthington GC, 84.
1. Don Senus, Berkshire Hills CC, 70. 2. Buck Smith, Stockbridge GC, 70. 3. Steve Bernstein, Wyantenuck CC, 70.
1. Bob Lucas, CC of Pittsfield, 88. 2. (tie) Frank Kelley, Wahconah CC, 91. 3. Gary Schieneman, Stockbridge GC, 91.
1. Bruce Person, Wyantenuck CC, 66. 2. Paul Deres, Donnybrook CC, 71. 3. (tie) Steve Agar, Egremont CC, 72; Tom Zappula, Wahconah CC, 72.
Chet Douglass, Stockbridge GC, 87. 2. Jack Hickey, Berkshire Hills CC, 93. 3. Ed Kasala, Wahconah CC, 94.
1. Lyn Camin, CC of Pittsfield, 68. 2. Don Deblieux, Berkshire Hills CC, 74. Ejihu Katzman, 74.
LITTLE BROWN JUG
Wahconah Country Club
Championship: Brent Dietz and Bill Tefft.
1st Division: Glenn and Michael Stopera
2nd Division: Mike Courtney and Michael Stefanik
3rd Division: Ron Cohen and Jay Taub
4th Division: John Salvini and Bill Shea
5th Division: Mike Coyle and Christian Horn
6th Division: Mike Cady and Ron Pero
7th Division: Russ Humphrey and Dave Sheedy
Connie McMahon, on the 179-yard first hole at GEAA with a 6-iron. Witnesses: Jim Farry and Jim Guinan.
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