The NJSGA convened its 110th Annual Meeting on October 8th at the Rock Spring Club. The meeting is a chance for the organization to review its activities and accomplishments from the past year, from Championships to committee work, and to elect new Board of Trustees members. This year’s meeting also was a passing of the baton from one Board President to another. Benjamin Del Vento, Sr. retires after completing his two-year term as President and will now serve as an Advisory Trustee. John B. Murray, a member of Spring Lake Golf Club and a partner in the Roseland-based law firm of Connell Foley, steps in as President.

In addition, two Board members announced their retirement after years of service: Robert T. Harmon of Montclair Golf Club and John Puskar of Rockaway River Country Club. Three new members are joining the Board: Evan Broadbelt of Manasquan River Golf Club, Jack Luts of East Orange Golf Club and Frank O’Brien of Plainfield Country Club.

Ben Del Vento spoke about his “rewarding and unforgettable” experience as President. He was an NJSGA Caddie Scholar at Rock Spring Club fifty years ago, and became the first NJSGA Caddie Scholar to be elected President of the NJSGA. The Caddie Scholarship Foundation has been an important initiative for Ben as he sought to grow its resources and maintain its high standard of grant recipients. As Ed Batta, Chairman of the Foundation, said in his report, there is a 96% graduation rate among the NJSGA’s caddie scholar selections. Ben also announced the launch of a second full scholarship with the Western Golf Association’s Evans Scholars Foundation, the largest caddie scholarship program in the country. This scholarship will be available for Northwestern University; the first scholarship has already been awarded to an NJSGA caddie attending the University of Michigan.

Jay Mottola, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Golf Association, and Dan Pasternak, President of the NJ Section of the PGA, presented checks to the NJSGA’s Caddie Scholarship Foundation.

Special guest Traver Davis, an NJSGA Nestor Macdonald caddie scholar, spoke about his education and early career success, and said his NJSGA grant helped make it all possible. Traver caddied at Rock Spring Club while he was attending Seton Hall Prep and Johns Hopkins University, and now works as a financial analyst at Bloomberg LLC.

Del Vento next thanked the NJSGA´s corporate partners: Lincoln Mercury, Prudential, Continental Airlines, Donnelly Construction, McRae Capital Management, Eastman Companies, Peter Millar, Nike Golf and ForeSeasons Golf Tours. Without their support and financial resources, the NJSGA´s reach and programs would not be as broad as they are today.

A number of Board Committee reports were delivered at the Annual Meeting. Treasurer David Epstein outlined the Association’s solid financials, consisting of a strong balance sheet and an income statement which reflects record Championship revenue from most events and expenses that have been managed carefully in this uncertain economic climate. Tournament Committee Co-Chair Al Kuchler also spoke about record entries in a number of NJSGA Championships and thanked the hosting venues for making their golf courses and facilities available. As you know, the NJSGA relies on its member clubs to offer their facilities for our 20+ Championships each year.

Anna Zorlas, Chair of the NJSGA Women’s Committee, announced her retirement and introduced her successor, Colleen Luker of Beacon Hill Country Club. Anna successfully presided over the Women’s Committee´s first two years as part of the NJSGA organization. Rich Kennedy, who is responsible for the NJSGA’s handicapping and member services programs, spoke about the new eBenefits program, which offers exclusive golf discounts and services to members, and some of the changes that are in store for the GHIN system next year. Bernie Samons, who manages the course ratings function, reported that 33 course ratings should be complete by the end of the season.

All in all, the NJSGA experienced a wonderful year across all of its sectors of activity, a notable accomplishment in a year when the golf industry suffered, and looks forward to another strong year in 2010. The major Championship sites for 2010 are as follows: Mid-Amateur Championship - Galloway National; Amateur Championship - Montclair Golf Club; Open Championship - Spring Brook Country Club; Four Ball Championship - Somerset Hills Country Club.

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