The date was Nov. 2, but the day felt like early summer with temperatures above 70 degrees as the 57th season of the John Caliendo Shore Winter Golf League kicked off at Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth.
Some 136 golfers took part in the opening-day event. The league added 32 new members since last season, bringing the membership total to approximately 190. Included in the membership are about 30 New Jersey PGA professionals. The members play an ambitious 22-event schedule, mostly on Thursdays, at courses primarily located in the Central to Southern portions of the state.
Not all will play in every event, as numbers dwindle when the temperatures fall throughout the season that lasts until the league championship takes place on April 5.
New league president Tim Macken of Knoll is enthused about the new schedule that includes outstanding clubs such as Rumson, Copper Hill, Suburban, Westlake, Deal, Sea Oaks, Knob Hill, Atlantic City, Seaview and Forsgate, among others.
“We added a senior net division each week for golfers aged 60 and above, and we added a new closest-to-the-pin format so golfers will be playing for a pot of gold each week,” said Macken, a wall-paper hanger who lives in West Caldwell.
“Personally, I like the camaraderie and playing with the same group each week. I like the challenges of the weather. We’ll still have 60 to 70 guys when the temperature is 35 degrees and there is a 20 miles-per-hour wind blowing.”
Macken complimented tournament director John Doherty, now in his third season. “He does so much for us to make sure everything is operating smoothly,” he said.
John Sonatore of Galloping Hill, an 82-year-old Rahway resident, plays in Macken’s group along with Gerry Purcell and Joe Russo. Sonatore is the only remaining original member of the league, which began in 1961.
“What I like about it the most is the people I’ve met over the years. The league is great because of all the people trying to get in it and for the fact that it’s so well run,” said Sonatore, who worked in the computer industry.
“I would like to thank the PGA professionals in our league, especially Pete Busch and Ken Pridgen, who help us get these fantastic private courses for our events,” Sonatore added.
The league was founded by Angelo Petraglia of Spring Meadow, John Cafone of Manasquan River, Andy Sikora of Beacon Hill and Roddy Newman of Homestead and originally called the Jersey Shore Winter Golf League.
Later, it was renamed for John Caliendo, a former Long Branch postal worker who ran the tournaments and computed the handicaps until 1985.
Caliendo Winter League winners at Galloping Hill included:
• Amateur Gross - three way tie: John Capra, Jim Dufficy, Pete Harnisch
• Amateur Net - Frito Friedman
• Senior Net (first winner ever in this new division) - Joe Stahley
• Pro Gross - two way tie - Jim Famula, Mark McCormick
• Pot of Gold Winner (first ever) - Joe Pack