The 2017 New Jersey State Golf Association Youth Foundation Pro-Am, conducted at Metedeconk National Golf Club in Jackson, site of the 97th  State Open on Monday, July 10, was deemed a success after a one-year absence.

The highlight of the event was the awarding of a donation of $5,000 by the NJSGA Youth Foundation to the Veterans Memorial Garden, located in Jackson, the local designated charity be members of Metedeconk National.

The event attracted 26 foursomes who were able to play on the same course on which 120 pros and amateurs teed ioff for the State Open, sponsored by Lincoln Motor Company, which takes place Tuesday through Thursday, July 11-13.

The 97th State Open Championship marks the second time Metedeconk National, celebrating its 30th  anniversary, has hosted the Open, 1994 being the only other time when Greg Hamilton won. 


“After a one-year absence, the entire Board is enthused about the Youth Foundation Pro-Am this year in such a great location. The participation effort was excellent, our largest in four years,” said NJSGA past president Frank O’Brien, chairman of the Youth Foundation.  

“Next year, we will have a great venue in Montclair Golf Club. The enthusiasm continues to build. We wish to thank our staff and Metedeconk National Golf Club for serving as such as great host,” O’Brien said

Other charities that will benefit from the Ypouth Foundation donations include various local First Tee programs, the ARC of Essex County (for those with development disabilities), PAR FORE program of Kean University (mentorship program for at-risk youth), and LPGA/USGA Girls Golf of Greater Newark, among other charities.

“We are flabbergasted by the amount of the donation we received from the NJSGA. It matches the biggest single donation we have ever received in the history of this project,” said Ken Bressi, a Vietnam War veteran and co-founder of the  Veterans Memorial Garden, which is located on Jackson Mills Road and Commodore Blvd. in Jackson.

“We truly appreciate the gift. Thank you to the NJSGA Youth Foundation and Metedeconk National Golf Club. I have always had a warm feeling about the golf course. Owner Herb Sambol showed me the property before int was built,” said Bressi, a former mayor of Jackson Township.      

In 2007, Charles Garofano and Ken Bressi had an idea to create a Veterans Memorial Garden. After speaking with combat veterans from all wars beginning with World War II, they concluded the Veterans Memorial Garden would include all veterans who served in the armed forces of the United States.

BY 2009, the project was granted 501 (c)(3) status and fund-raising by various means began, including the sale of dedicated pavers, dedicated benches and flagpoles with dedicated monuments, all part of the memorial itself. Besides collecting at storefronts and hosting a dinner dance gift auction, the Veterans Memorial Garden has received donations from local companies. All monies go directly to the building and maintenance of the site.

Fund-raising is currently being conducted for the final phase of the project at Veterans Memorial Garden, which will consist of a 52-ton solid, granite monument. It will be 21 feet in width and 18 feet in height and will be in the form of five two-feet diameter columns, with each column representing a branch of the Armed Forces. Some $50,000 of the $300,000 needed for the monument has already been donated.

The Youth Foundation Pro-Am was a four-player team event and the format was Best Ball of Four, net scoring. Teams were formed of three amateurs and one professional. There was both a team competition and individual Professionals´ competition.

The team representing Spring Lake Golf Club (Paul Mayer, Mark Pellecchia, Bob Ballou and professional Matt McKeon) won the pro-am championship.