The Met PGA Assistant Pros Championship, held every year right after Labor Day, is both a goal and a reward after a long summer for the people who keep golf going. Assistant pros work extended hours for limited pay and sometimes do not have much chance to actually play golf.
So, that explains why Josh Rackley of Tam O’Shanter in Brookville had enough adrenaline on the 36th hole of regulation at Bethpage Red Wednesday to clear a bunker and fescue 310 yards from the tee. “I swung out of my shoes,” he said, recalling a drive that left him only a 100-yard sand wedge to a green that yields few birdies. He made birdie there to force a playoff with Mike Ballo of Winged Foot, then birdied the hole again (with a 110-yard gap wedge approach to 15 feet) to win the playoff.
It was the second significant victory in three weeks for Rackley, who drew national attention for winning the Met Open a year after having caddied for the champion of the 2016 Met Open. The latter was his boss, Tam O’Shanter head pro Mark Brown.
Rackley was proud to have birdied five of his final seven holes, including the playoff. “To know how to finish a win, that was something Mark showed me last year,” Rackley said. “My biggest thing in the past was that I’d think about the outcome and then make a couple of bogeys. Now I’m like, the outcome will come. Just don’t think about the money or the trophy or anything like that.”
He will travel to the PGA Tour’s Q School next month, aiming for the first step, a place on the Web.com Tour. His performance at Bethpage Red also earned him a spot in the National Assistant Pros Championship this November in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Erik Easton of The Bridge and Hugh Heo of Bethpage State Park also qualified by finishing in the top 12 Wednesday.
Pair of aces
When Shashi Patel received congratulations from his fellow members at Old Westbury Golf & Country Club for his hole-in-one (No. 8 on the Overlook nine) Aug. 16, he kept repeating the phrase he learned as a high school student in Nairobi, Kenya: “Success is a matter of chance: Ask any failure.”
Ten days later, he did not know what to say after he made another ace — a 158-yard 7-wood shot on the third hole of the Bluegrass nine. “I was beside myself,” said Patel, a pulmonary specialist with a practice in Forest Hills. “People keep telling me I should have bought Mega Lotto. Now, every time I walk through the clubhouse I’m asked if I am going to have one more.”
Patel tells them he is not fooled. Golf is too tough. In five rounds since the second ace, he said, has not hit one par-3 green with his tee shot.
Westfall tops Tavares
Postscript to the story Thursday about the Islanders Captains Ryder Cup-style tournament at Sebonack Golf Club: Team Westfall defeated Team Tavares, 5 ½-3 ½. The winning squad, captained by Ed Westfall, also included co-owners Jon Ledecky Dewey Shay, as well as Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin and Doug Weight. The other squad consisted of John Tavares, Patrick Flatley, Michael Peca, Mark Streit, Garth Snow and Sebonack superintendent Garret Bodington.
Lennon’s story leads to thoughtfulness
Postscript to the Newsday story last Sunday about Dan Lennon, who had a life-threatening heart attack on No. 17 at Rockville Links and months later an ace on the same hole: the club has begun offering CPR classes. And the member who performed life-saving CPR on Lennon, Rod McWalters, said, “At least 100 people have come up to me and said, ‘Dan is one of my closest friends.’ Everyone loves him. It keeps happening even now, almost a year later, I bump into someone I haven’t seen in a while and they say, ‘I heard what happened with Dan. He’s the greatest. I’m so glad you were there.’ ”