“You drive for show and putt for dough,” is a common golf axiom, but every shot Monday at Chautauqua Golf Club helped raise money for a good cause in the annual “Save the Lake” Pro-Am Tournament.
Club professionals were paired with amateur golfers in a two best-ball format, with both men and women competing in teams of four. While thunderstorms rolled through Chautauqua County in the pre-dawn hours, Monday’s tournament was played in immaculate summer weather.
For the fifth straight year, all proceeds from the tournament benefited the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy.
“We’re delighted to have this opportunity that the members, officers and staff at the Chautauqua Golf Club give to us,” said John Jablonski, the conservancy’s executive director. “My goal is to have a lot of fun and talk to as many of our supporters here as possible.”
The festivities began with a shotgun start and brief welcome from head golf professional Troy Moss and conservancy President Douglas M. Larson. Each team then drove to a different hole on the sprawling course, with the tournament getting underway just after 11 a.m.
Kirk Stauffer of Bradford, Pennsylvania, carded a 66 to finish as the top professional on the day, while the foursome of Danny Kaye, Scott Christ, Bill Bernard and Mike Wimer won the team competition with a score of 126 playing best-ball.
Ken Brown of Lakewood, New York, was one of many amateur golfers to take part in the tournament. A former member of Chautauqua Golf Club, Brown said he looked forward to playing the course’s challenging fourth hole.
“The road going alongside it makes a nice little challenge there,” Brown said. “You’ve got the road and cars staring at your face. It’s a great tee shot.”
Playing the club’s demanding Lake Course, golfers were met with several water hazards that required accuracy out of the tee box and deceptive greens surrounded by patches of trees. In the clear and sunny weather, striking views of the surrounding countryside were visible toward the end of the front nine.
Information on how the conservancy works to preserve Chautauqua Lake was front and center as golfers checked in on Monday morning.
“The conservancy has been working with lakefront property owners to naturalize their shore line to intercept pollutants before they reach the lake,” Jablonski said. “So if someone fertilizes their lawn, for instance, by having a band of natural vegetation along the shoreline, that can help absorb pollutants from runoff coming off the lawn and intercept nutrients coming from the septic system.”
Jablonski said the unique partnership was reflective of the environmentally friendly steps that both the golf club and the Institution have already taken.
“Chautauqua Institution and the golf course have begun implementing multiple stormwater improvements over the last few years, which has cut down on the pollution entering Chautauqua Lake,” Jablonski said. “Many of our members are Chautauqua Institution residents.”
The tournament also provided amateur golfers with chance to improve their game and learn from some of the top professionals in the region.
In past years, Brown said he discussed chipping techniques with professional golfers who took part in the tournament.
“The rough this time of year gets a little bit longer with some of the rain that we’ve had,” Brown said. “They teach you a few chipping techniques and they love to work with you.”
Jablonski said Chautauqua Golf Club has used responsible practices to make both of its 18-hole courses as environmentally friendly as possible and maintain the health of lake.
“They use as few chemicals as possible and don’t use herbicides or pesticides unless they need to,” he said. “You’ll see things like clover out here and other plants that, with people who really intensively use herbicides on their property, you would not see. This is much healthier for the lake.”