WEST ORANGE, N.J. With his victory today in the 50th NJSGA Senior Amateur Championship at Crestmont Country Club, Allan Small of Fairmount Country Club becomes the first golfer in NJSGA history to win the NJSGA Amateur Championship, Mid-Amateur Championship and Senior Amateur Championship. “I am just honored to play in NJSGA events will all you guys,” Small said in accepting the championship trophy. Indeed, he has been on the competitive scene for a long time. He first won the Mid-Amateur in 1986 and again in 2006, and won the State Amateur in 2004 at Spring Brook. Completing the NJSGA “Amateur Slam” is a big accomplishment for the 56 year-old golfer, whose career has been plagued by lingering injuries.
“I am fortunate to be playing at this level still,” he said after recounting his physical ailments. In 2002, Small underwent back surgery and in late 2003 he had both knees replaced. Keeping healthy and fit has been a challenge for Small ever since, especially considering his 6’7” frame. He has to work that much harder to stay loose and keep the core golf muscles strong. He uses the off-season to focus on his physical training with intensive gym workouts, and then just tries to stay loose during the golf season. His off-season training consists of five trips per week to the gym and several weekends in South Carolina breaking in his swing. By the time the season starts in New Jersey in April, he’s ready to go and focuses on his tournament schedule along with light workouts.
Everything came together for Small during Senior Amateur week. His two-day total of 142 (70-72) was good for a six stroke victory on the 6,715 yard, par 72 Crestmont course. His opening round of 70 was one of only three sub-par rounds shot in the tournament, and made him the player to beat.
Finishing behind Small in a tie for second were Vic Gerard of Eagle Oaks G.C. (76-72) and Tim Macken of the Knoll C.C. (74-74). Ron Vannelli finished in fourth (78-71) and defending champion Peter Keller, Sr. finished in a tie for fifth (76-76).
The Senior Amateur is for players 55 years of age and older. The Pre-Senior division allows players 50-54 to compete in the Championship. This division was won by Bert Kosup of the Ridge at Back Brook for the third time, with rounds of 71-75. Jon Tingley of Stanton Ridge finished second (78-72) and Tom Hyland of Little Mill finished third (74-78) in the Pre-Senior division.
In the Super-Senior division for players 65 and older, the legendary Bob Housen of Manasquan River won with rounds of 79-79, edging out Alton Jones of Mendham in a match of cards. Crestmont played tough for the Seniors this week. It can be described as a sneaky long course, and the Donald Ross greens, with their massive size and dramatic undulations, always present a challenge, especially to those unfamiliar with them. It usually takes a fair amount of local knowledge to succeed at Crestmont. With trees having been removed over the recent past, the course stands out even more as a gem from the Golden Age of course design.