With beautiful Spring Brook Country Club as the backdrop, the New Jersey State Golf Association conducted its 118thAnnual Meeting on Thursday, Oct. 5.
Highlights of the meeting included the introduction of William E. Frese of Montclair Golf Club as NJSGA president, beginning immediately, and the presentation of the Honey Gantner Award to John Rochford of Echo Lake, as top NJSGA volunteer for 2017.
Secretary Eric Houseknecht of the Archives Committee was pleased to announce the formation of a NJSGA Hall of Fame that will be unveiled in 2018.
“We have had another terrific year at the NJSGA,” said NJSGA outgoing president Daniel Meehan. “We witnessed excellent competition in our 26 championships and saw the youth movement at the highest level -- Luke Graboyes, a recent college grad, winning the Open, and young Dawson Jones at the Amateur, which included high finishers from college and high schools; Kelly Sim and Yeji Shin in the Women’s Amateur and on and on. As I have said many times before, the future of New Jersey golf is in great hands.
“Our staff could not present the many events each year without the support of a great group of volunteers and the many member courses that provide superb venues for almost 60 tournament days, Member Golf Days and various qualifiers. And speaking of our staff, it is second to none.
“It has been a fast two years. I am honored to have served as president of the NJSGA, an excellent association, that is respected not only by our New Jersey members, but by our peer organizations nationally. I am sure that our new president, Bill Frese, whom I have known for 55 years, will do an outstanding job," Meehan said.
Rochford, a former chairman of the New Jersey State Golf Association Caddie Scholarship Foundation and Caddie Scholarship Foundation representative at Echo Lake Country Club since 1987, was presented Honey Gantner Award by Mr. Meehan.
In his 30 years as Caddie Scholarship Foundation representative at Echo Lake, Rochford has helped raise more than $800,000 and had more than 200 Echo Lake caddies receive scholarships to pursue college educations.
“John Rochford of Echo Lake has been a shining example of a volunteer who puts dedication over self when it comes to serving the caddies of New Jersey. John Rochford is a perfect example of someone who embodies the spirit of the award,” Meehan stated.
The new NJSGA Hall of Fame will include amateur and professional players, and others who have made significant contributions to the game in New Jersey, such as architects, journalists, superintendents and club owners, and others.
“We will accept nominations each year. It will be a virtual Hall of Fame with a section of our new website dedicated to it. There will be a permanent display in our offices as well,” Houseknecht said.
“It’s great news. It’s hard to believe that we didn’t have a Hall of Fame,” Meehan said. “Kevin Purcell and Eric have worked very hard in creating this. I think it will be fantastic.”
Chris Bauer, executive director of the New Jersey section of the PGA, thanked New Jersey golf clubs for helping both the NJPGA and NJPGA in their endeavors.
“I would like to thank the clubs that continue to share their facilities with our associations by hosting events, conducting fund raisers and administering programs that support the game of golf. We truly enjoy collaborating with the NJSGA. It has been a pleasure working with Dan (Meehan) for the past two years and I look forward to working with Bill (Frese), Kevin (Purcell) and the staff in the future,” Bauer said.
Steve Hennesey provided the treasurer’s report.
“For 2017, we have budgeted a modest surplus and we may have done a little better than we have expected. We probably had over 5,000 people participate in our tournaments and Member Golf Days. I am pleased to announce that John Delaney will be taking over as the new treasurer for next year,” Hennesey said.
Frese spoke on behalf of both the Partnership and Membership committees.
“We hope to enjoy continuing relationships with our sponsors next year,” he said. “We had 12 Member Golf Days this year at great venues and more than 1,200 golfers participated. They provided golfers with opportunities to not only enjoy the golf courses, but to meet new friends.”
He cited that the Ultimate Team Event at Metedeconk National G.C. enjoyed a full field of 72 teams, representing 61 golf clubs. The winners, Mike Decker and Jim Schulz of Mercer Oaks, received a free trip for four to St. Kitts to play in the Admirals Cup Pro-Am in February.
“Our relationship with the South Jersey Golf Association is a success. Their membership has grown dramatically thanks to their relationship with the NJSGA,” Frese said.
Houseknecht, representing the Tournament Committee, announced that 2017 saw a record number of entries for the State Open for play at Metedeconk National. He also said the 2018 State Amateur will be played at Echo Lake Country Club, July 10-12, and the State Open will take place at Montclair Golf Club, July 24-26.
Trustee Kathy Carter provided the Women’s Committee report and singled out Dot Paluck of Somerset Hills for her volunteer efforts as head of the committee.
“Yes, we have noticed that we have very successful young girls rising up in the golf ranks in New Jersey,” said Carter, who revealed that the 2018 Women’s Amateur and Mid-Amateur will be conducted at Essex County Country Club, July 30-August 2.
The Youth Foundation will award approximately $30,000 to deserving youth groups in the near future, thanks to monies generating by the Pro-Am and raffle, said Trustee and former president Frank O’Brien.
“We are one of the best Caddie Scholarship Foundations in the country,” said CSF chairman Ben Del Vento, Sr. “Since 1947, we awarded more than 3,000 scholarships and raised nearly $14 million. With our ’70 for 70’ campaign this year, we want to surpass $14 million.”
In 2017, $642,000 was awarded to 148 caddie scholars. He noted that 2,022 individuals received Par Club membership by donating at least $100 to the CSF.
“The Caddie Scholarship Foundation is a tradition the entire association is proud of,” Del Vento said. “In five years, we will be celebrating the diamond anniversary of giving back to the game.”