The next time Islanders goaltending coach Mike Dunham tells his players about perseverance and focus, they should really listen. He proved his expertise on those topics last week when, at the age of 44 and after numerous tries, he reached the sectional round of U.S. Open qualifying for the first time.
He will be in the field at Canoe Brook in Summit, New Jersey a week from tomorrow, having made it through local qualifying. “I went into the round with no expectations other than enjoying a round of golf at Newport Country Club,” he said. “When I made the turn at 1 under, I figured I had a chance and I started grinding a little more to see what I could get in at. I ended up at even, which was enough.”
A two-time U.S. Olympian and 10-year National Hockey League veteran, Dunham got into hockey through golf, rather than the other way around. His father, Ron, was a club pro in Binghamton and needed work during the long winters. He got a job driving the Zamboni at a local rink, which gave his son extra ice time. Mike was not all that interested in golf back then, but the game grew on him, especially after he retired as a goalie.
He has twice played in the U.S. Mid-Amateur. The closest he has come to the Open was as an alternate to the sectionals six years ago. So, making it to the final qualifying stage was an accomplishment. The game plan at Newport was as simple as “see the puck, stop the puck.” Dunham said: “I made some putts.”
Macdonald savours Travis title
As he watched the Masters on TV last month, Dan Macdonald found it interesting, and to a certain degree, inspiring. He saw Stewart Hagestad in Butler Cabin being honored as low amateur — the same Stewart Hagestad whom he defeated in a playoff last July for the Arcola Cup.
“A lot of people around me were thinking that,” said Macdonald, 36, a former Nassau high school champion and six-year letter-winner at Manhasset. “But to put it in context, I beat him on my home golf course in one 36-hole event. More than anything, it inspired me to think about what I might be able to achieve.”
Macdonald had his own achievement last Sunday as he won the 108th Travis Invitational at Garden City Golf Club, one of the most cherished titles in amateur golf. “It meant a lot,” he said. “The field is so strong, you have to play really high level golf just to get into the championship flight.”
After he graduated from the University of Maryland, Macdonald turned pro and played on Florida minitours. One year of that life convinced him it was not for him, so he returned to New York and took a job at Xaxis, a major digital media platform. He got married and moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey, in part because it is close to Arcola Country Club, where he is a member.
As the father of 10-month-old twin girls, he puts as much as he can into whatever spare time he has to practice and play. “I think to a certain extent, having that balance in my life can help me,” he said, adding that he is not afraid to aim high, such as the U.S. Mid-Amateur title, which sent Hagestad to Augusta.
Shon in field for U.S. Women’s Open
Kelly Shon of Port Washington is in the field for the U.S. Women’s Open in New Jersey in July, having become exempt from qualifying by finishing among the top 75 on the 2016 LPGA money list. Annie Park of Levittown will be in a sectional qualifier a week from tomorrow at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey . . . Not all Long Island clubs are scrambling for members. The elite ones, especially on the East End, have long waiting lists and charge huge sums from new members. One of them, which was not identified by name in a survey from the accounting firm Condon, O’Meara, McGinty & Donnelly, received $2.27 million in initiation fees last year.