First Skins Charity Game at Mohawk Golf Club Entertains

NISKAYUNA — Exhibits such as the first Charity Skins Game, played Tuesday at Mohawk Golf Club, are held more to entertain than dazzle galleries with golf skills, but David Duval reminded everyone that these guys can to play.

Duval, paired with four current or former members of the PGA Tour Champions, teeed off on the 18th hole under a tree. Forced to keep the ball low to avoid the branches, Duval bounced his second shot between two bunkers, onto the green and less than six feet from the pin.

He birdied the putt to capture the final two skins and finish atop the leaderboard.

“You know what,” Duval said, “it was a good shot, and a bit of luck. We all know that was the case.

“I don’t know if he could do it again,” his playing partner Fred Funk said, “but it was a really good shot. I don’t know what he was trying to do, but that’s all it was.” he had. To succeed is really cool.

Duval, grandson of longtime Capital Region golf pro Hap Duval, won 10 skins in total and $17,500 of the $31,500 at stake – players usually donate the winnings to the charity. charity.

The big winner of the day was the Boys and Girls Club of Schenectady, which received $250,000 from the show.

Charity Skins Set
(Mohawk GC, Niskayuna)
Earnings from player skins
David Duval 10 $17,500
Chris DiMarco 2 $5,500
Blaine McCallister3 $5,000
Darren Clarke* 3 $3,500
Fred Funk $0 0
*- only played the first 10 holes

“The first year, $250,000, it doesn’t get better than that,” said event organizer Joel Slutsky.

The initial field of four was expanded to five when Chris DiMarco, 2002 PGA Championship and 2003 Masters runner-up, was added. Darren Clarke, winner of the 2011 British Open and the most decorated player in the group, left after 10 holes due to an earlier commitment.

These four were joined by Blaine McCallister, who is retired from competitive golf but is the backbone in attracting players to the Capital Region.

McCallister, 63, has participated in 11 of the previous 16 Skins Games held to benefit Ellis Hospital. This event, after which Tuesday’s exhibition was modeled, ended in 2008.

“We’re Champions Tour players now,” McCallister said. “Our careers are not based on what we do now. We had our careers. The Champions Tour is probably the most accessible and easy-going group of guys out there, and we understand the circumstances. These are pro-ams. It’s about entertainment. It’s not about trying to go out and prove something.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Duval, whose father, Bob, is a former Champions player and Schenectady native. “I have ties with the region, but distant ties. I never grew up here, I was born and raised in Florida, but meeting so many people who knew my dad, my uncle (Jim), Hap, it’s cool. It seems like everyone I meet in this field has a story about Hap.

The focus was more on trying to steer other players than sweating birdie putts.

On the second hole, a 194-yard par-3, the short-hitter Funk approached the tee box with an iron. Clarke immediately handed him a driver.

Funk, 66, the oldest of the group, was the only one not to win skins – he missed 12 and 10ft putts that would have earned him money – but accepted the role of class clown.

“A lot of times on TV you see a pro backing off his tee shot because you think he’s nervous,” Funk said as Clarke got behind his ball. “Nine times out of 10 it’s because he has gas.”

A gallery that Slutsky estimated at around 1,100 people followed the senior professionals along the way, hoping to savor some of the banter exchanged.

“It was a little 7-iron,” McCallister said of his tee shot on the No. 12. “Everything I hit is small – a little left, a little right, a little short .”

All of the players except McCallister headed south after the exhibition to take part in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, a Champions event in the Binghamton suburb of Endicott.

Players agreed that the Over-50 Tour has a much nicer atmosphere than the regular PGA Tour, but they’re trying to put on a good show, like they did on Tuesday.

“The sponsors invested a lot of money for a good cause,” Duval said. “People want to come out and see you play. It’s our job. Yes, it’s a bit of a hit-and-giggle thing, but there could be 20 people here who drove two hours to come see us play. You want to show them what you can do and how you perform. You don’t want to mess around and not take it seriously.