Nearly 50 NJSGA volunteers, administrators and staff took part in the third NJSGA Volunteer Appreciation Day on Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Watchung Valley Golf Club in Watchung.
Each year, the event is played in a best-ball-of-four format with the top prize going to the team with the lowest net score. The day includes lunch, golf, and a reception including cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and prizes. The winning team was comprised of Paul Samanchik, Dave Deering, Fred Gambarella and Dan Juffey.
“We are excited and proud to host Volunteer Appreciation Day and to show off the course and the renovations we’ve done here in the past couple of years,” said Watchung Valley principal David Cronheim.
Last year’s Volunteer Appreciation Day was scheduled for Watchung Valley, but never took place due to inclement weather. The inaugural Volunteer Appreciation Day occurred in 2016 at Navesink Country Club in Middletown followed by a second Volunteer Appreciation Day at the Montclair Golf Club at Rock Spring in West Orange in 2017.
Former NJSGA president Frank O’Brien helped initiate the Volunteer Appreciation Day program in 2015. “It’s always a tremendous day. It’s an opportunity for our organization to thank all our volunteers who give of their time on a continual basis. They are the ones that help make our events – our Association – superb,” O’Brien said.
Walter Sartorius, one of the NJSGA volunteers, donated his time to officiate 55 days during the summer of 2018.
“I love the concept. I think it’s great for the Association to acknowledge a lot of the work that is put forth by the volunteers,” Sartorius said. “It also great that the officials and course raters can get to see each other, something they don’t normally do.”
The NJSGA has 25 volunteer course raters. On Thursday, 14 course raters played in the event at Watchung Valley.
Steve Pardee has served the NJSGA as both a course rater and a tournament official for more than 25 years. “I think it’s a great chance for all of us to get together and have fun in a different type of setting. I enjoy the camaraderie of the course-rating committee. And, I’m delighted to be at a course that has just been renovated,” Pardee said.
Back to the Future
Owned by the Cronheim family now for several generations, Watchung Valley (formally known as Twin Brooks Country Club) has made a move to return to its impressive roots. “The course has become much more challenging. It’s a Seth Raynor “template” design, complete with holes such as a Biarritz, Redan, and Punch Bowl, and even a Principal’s Nose feature in one fairway.
“One reason this event is special is because these golfers will get to a see a totally new golf course since we had our renovations done,” said Eric Korb, a long-time Watchung Valley member and an NJSGA volunteer for 26 years. Korb has also served on the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation board.
“The Cronheims have always been big supporters of the NJSGA and golf in New Jersey. This is part of their way of giving back to the game, which they have always been doing,” Kord said.
“People should be rewarded for their hard work and are most deserving of a day of appreciation,” official Dave Deering said. “Part of the fun is playing great courses like Watchung Valley, Montclair at Rock Spring and Navesink.”
“Anybody that volunteers their time for the NJSGA deserves a day like this as a thank you,” said NJSGA past president Gene Benzenberg.