Get the word out. The 2016 Porter Cup represents a bit of a change from competitions of the recent past. Some of the changes were anticipated, while others are dependent on the current climate that no forecaster can predict with accuracy. The tournament itself, slated to run from July 27-30, will appear identical to past competitions: many of the finest amateur golfers will make their way to Lewiston, to compete over the challenging, capricious Niagara Falls country club golf course. Fans will have personal access to the contestants, with no gallery ropes nor grandstands to impede traffic nor viewing lines. On Media Day (July 12th) 2016, the steering committee alerted the fourth and fifth estates to alterations not apparent to the public nor even the most ardent aficionados of the storied amateur golf championship.
After 15 years at the helm of the tournament ship, Steve Denn took a step back from conduct of the tournament, handing the leadership role off to a group of committed club members. Denn’s personal life took precedent, and the decision was made to spread the massive duties, previously managed by one individual, to a committee. Marty Shimmel is the media chairman while Cassie Stein handles player recruitment. Tracy Paonessa manages the communications tent while Dena Armstrong and Michael Vitch handle other responsibilities for the tournament.
It was noted a decade ago that more elite female golfers turned pro before the age of 18 than did their male counterparts. This is still true in 2016, but there has been a shift toward younger defection to the professional ranks among the young men. Jordan Spieth initiated the current trend when he left college after 1.5 years for a career on the PGA Tour. This month, Beau Hossler, who competed in the Porter Cup in 2013 and 2014, announced that he will skip his final year of eligibility at the University of Texas to turn professional. The Porter Cup steering committee has responded to this paradigm shift by recognizing the younger talent across the golfing world, extending invitations to golfers still in high school (Will Thomson) and recent secondary-school graduates (Doc Redman, Dakota McNealy, Caleb Proveaux.)
The favorites for the 2016 Porter Cup include a trio of New Yorkers. Derek Bard of New Hartford competed in the 2016 Masters and US Open tournaments, rewards for reaching the finals of the 2015 US Amateur championship. Bard will be a senior at the University of Virginia and is the 20th ranked amateur golfer in the world. Cameron Young of Scarborough will be a sophomore at Wake Forest University. Young is the 2016 Ike Champion, one of the heralded events conducted each year by the MGA (Metropolitan Golf Association.) Finally, if there is any golfer who knows the course better than Gavin Hall, rising senior at UTexas, name him. Hall finished t2 as a 15-year old and placed 3rd last year.
The local contingent is a healthy one. In addition to Rochesterians Hall and Thomson (by way of Florida), recent high school graduates Ben Reichert, Marc Holzhauer, David Hanes and Chris Yustin either qualified or were extended invitations. All three will play division 1 NCAA golf next year. Michael Boss of Lewiston and Bill Gaffney of Clarence, both 2016 college graduates, are in the field. Finally, mid-amateurs Jamie Miller, Billy Hanes and Jake Katz will compete for the prestigious trophy in late July.
The Golf Course
It will take an acute sense of history and architecture to note the bunker work that has been done to a few holes on the front nine at Niagara Falls country club. The outward half lies on an uninterrupted stretch of the eastern portion of the club property. The first three holes are ripe for birdies, either due to a gentle putting surface (#1) or brief yardages (#2 and #3.) The back right portion of the third green has been extended, offering an enticing hole location behind the bunker. The course shows its teeth on four and five, then offers up two more chances at birdie onf #6 and #7, before closing with two of the three lengthiest par fours on the course. The inward half begins with four more holes where birdie or better is a distinct possibility. Golfers will have short iron or wedge in their hands when approaching #10 and #12. The eleventh and thirteenth are both reachable par-five holes, and many an eagle has landed on the final nine holes of past Porter Cups. Numbers 14 and 15 are shortish par four holes, and many in the field will have a go at driving the green at the latter. With luck, golfers have made enough birdies at this point, for the back nine closes with two long, par three holes and a devilish and long par four. Niagara Falls country club doesn’t demand the longest driver of the golf ball, but it will recognize the player who relentlessly puts the ball in play and possesses great acumen and unwavering nerves on the slippery, tilted putting surfaces.
The Media Day Experience
Members of the press were invited to lunch and a brief presentation by the tournament steering committee. After the press briefing, those in attendance had a chance to play the golf course with a member of the tournament committee. The opportunity to hit shots from spots where the tournament will be decided in a few weeks is an invaluable one. Golf offers its reporters the opportunity to emulate (if not copy) the precise situations to be encountered in competition. Try mimicking that in another sport. Given the general atmospheric conditions of the summer of 2016, it is anticipated that the course will play firm and fast, with golfers making a decision on approaching the green through the air or on the ground. As a reminder, the tournament is free and open to the public, with parking requiring a small fee.
|Key To The 2016 Porter Cup|
|List of Competitors|
|Last Year’s Player Profiles
(Includes some of this year’s
|Schedule of Events|