Bill Gaffney hoped to make up the three strokes he needed on 2nd-round leader Ben Reichert at the Buffalo District Golf Association’s individual championship. He didn’t expect them to come all at once, but that’s precisely what happened when Reichert four-putted the first hole for triple bogey. Gaffney also didn’t expect David Hanes to reach minus-three on the day and make a run at the title, but that also happened on Wednesday at Transit Valley. Fortunately for Gaffney, many factors worked in his favor and he handled the positives and the negatives with equilibrium. According to him,
I caddied at Transit from age 14 to age 17, when they had their caddy program, and I still caddy there for members during certain tournaments. In addition, Transit was my high school home course (Williamsville East) so I know it well. The key to Transit for me was to hit my approach shots to flat spots on the greens. The greens were not super fast, given our weather this summer, but many of the pins were cut on slopes, to I tried to leave an uphill putt or at least a flat putt with my approach shots. I didn’t hit very many drivers, and the holes where I did hit driver either have width, or play to my strength, which is a baby cut. On a hole like #10, I actually hit my drive down the 18th fairway. I was able to shorten the hole by about 60 yards that way.
Despite the final, two-stroke margin, the tournament was always in doubt. Hanes the Younger made his run before settling for 72 and 4th place at 219. Hanes the Elder also had 72 and finished a stroke back at 220, in 5th place. Andrew Romano, the third member of the final threesome, would not go away all day. He posted 72 and came 3rd with 217, one behind Reichert.
When you shoot the only score in the 60s all week, and you save it for the final day, it must do some good. Gaffney worked on his putting for 2.5 hours with his caddy, Danny Yustin, on Tuesday night. Whenever someone would make a run, Yustin would remind Gaffney to play his game, and that no one would beat him. Even when Reichert hit driver into the pond on 14, and Gaffney, attempting to lay up short of the water, flew a hybrid into the H2O, the Gaffney-Yustin team kept their composure. Gaffney recalled after the round
I have so many people I need to thank. My dad (3-time BDGA champ John Gaffney) for supporting and funding and being a dad; my swing coach, Gary Battistoni,; Mark Kirk, who helped me with my short game and my mental approach at Crag Burn; my trainer at Discover Fitness, Doug Fiegel; my caddy, Danny Yustin; and finally, my hypnotherapist, Corrin Mathews. She gave me some homework that made me think about how to win and how to keep my focus.
The last few weeks have been demanding ones for Gaffney and Reichert. Both competed in the Porter Cup in Lewiston, against the world’s best amateurs. This month, Gaffney will compete in the New York State amateur championship in Schenectady, the Crag Burn club championship, and the John R. Williams 2-man at Oak Hill. These events will represent the swan song to his amateur career, as he makes a run at the professional ranks in late September.