LOCAL PROS IN ORLANDO
By Bob Weiner
For many golf professionals and amateur enthusiasts, the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL this week is the official preview of the upcoming season. Plus it gets some of us to stop thinking about the deep freeze we’re in here in the Capital Area.
“The vibe is really good here,” said Town of Colonie Golf Course general manager and head professional Noel Gebauer, who is also serving a three-year term on the PGA of America’s National Board of Directors representing the Northeastern New York PGA and New England districts.
“For those of us from up North, the PGA Show is very important because everyone is looking to get started on the new season. We are all very excited and can’t wait for the good weather to come when we get back home,” he said.
Gebauer spent part of Thursday playing golf at Grand Cypress, but he also attended several meetings because of his numerous roles with the PGA of America. Among the other local pros there: Brian Lowe of Catskill Golf Club, Todd Manderson of Ballston Spa CC, Justin Hearley, an assistant at Normanside CC, Anders Mattson, Dir. of Instruction at Saratoga National and Kay McMahon of eduKaytion Golf.
“As far as the industry is concerned, there is a lot of buzz about golf,” he said. “Everyone was watching as Tiger Woods returned to the PGA Tour (in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course). Plus, there was a lot of talk about the Junior Golf League going national, as well as discussion about the upcoming Drive, Chip & Putt competition. There is a lot of reason to believe that the game is going to thrive.”
MORE THAN NEW SPIKES
Gebauer said the PGA Merchandise Show used to just be a showcase for all the new products and equipment, but now it’s grown exponentially.
“Sure, it used to be all about the merchandise, but now it’s more about PGA education and how to improve the game,” he said. “PGA professionals constantly need to be recertified, and they can pick up many credits for going to all the meetings down here.
“As part of the PGA Board of Directors, I’ve been in discussions about how to make the game more enjoyable for the average player. We’re talking about having more 9-hole rounds available, because many people don’t have the time for the traditional 18-hole rounds, plus lunch that can take more than six hours. We are working on shortening the time it takes everyone to play.”
Gebauer said that once you begin to look at the new products available, it’s much like a kid in a candy store. “Although I would say that there is not just one new product that stands out for me, every company has something new down here,” he said. “They all have the newest and best equipment to look at. They’ve got new drivers, new irons and new putters. Everybody is excited.”
Gebauer, 48, will start his 11th season as both the head pro and GM at Town of Colonie, a course he grew up playing and began his pro career as an assistant. He later was a professional at Normanside Country Club and Western Turnpike Golf Club before returning to Town of Colonie.
“Everything is great at the PGA Show, and I’m enjoying the experience, but I can’t wait to get back home and begin another season. I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
PGA SHOW NOTES
Local club maker Tony Curro, a Watervliet native now living in Latham, received his 2018 North American Clubmaker of the Year award from the International Clubmakers Guild at the show.
Northway Golf Center is now one of the few Capital Area, locally-owned golf stores and will take advantage of new products from the PGA Merchandise Show as it does every season. Watch for its new sale this week.