Penn Yan's Dan Banach competes in Long Island Tournament

Gary Pinneo
Dan Banach

The rambling golf course at the Bethpage State Park on Long Island has been the site of numerous high profile golf tournaments over the past years.  In fact the 2009 United States Open will be played on the renowned Black Course at Bethpage  next year.  The best golfers in the world including Tiger Woods have played on the famed links at Bethpage. Late last month the famed course had a local Penn Yan connection.

From July 28 - 31, the 22nd Annual Eastern Amputee Golf Association Regional Tournament was played out on the Red Course at Bethpage. 

Penn Yan native and  Yates County Legislator Dan Banach not only competed in this event, he brought home a trophy! 

This tournament features dozens of golfers who have physical challenges.

It is sponsored by the Eastern Amputee Golf Association which is part of the National Amputee Golf Association.  This not-for-profit association organizes and conducts golfing events throughout the country.  They have a United States Championship Tournament scheduled in Texas in November. The organization also conducts golf clinics and seminars for the physically challenged athlete.  They also provide information and communication for their members about the latest golf equipment and techniques. 

This year's Eastern Regional was played on the Bethpage Park's Red Course.  This impressive golf venue was designed by the famed golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast.  It is a very difficult Par 70 course that features several long par 4's and dogleg holes. It is said to have one of the toughest opening starting holes in the country.  It is indeed one of the finest golf courses in the country and an honor to play there.  Congratulations to our local linkster Dan Banach on this super golfing accomplishment and honor.

ANOTHER SIGN OF THE TIMES?

There was a small story that ran last week in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle about the closing of Olympic Bowling Lanes in Chili after 50 years.  This historic bowling alley featured 80 lanes and was the site of many Professional Bowling Association events over the years. 

The Olympic hosted 14 Men's PBA events and five Ladies PBA Tour tournaments. But more importantly, the building was where thousands of local residents spent hours of fun over the past 50 years. The famed bowling center hosted hundreds of leagues for both adults and children.  They even bussed youngsters in during the weekdays when school was out for organized activities. 

This was in the days when most families only owned one automobile. 

In the 1980's, Olympic Bowl stayed open 24 hours a day on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  It was a hub of family entertainment.    Saturday mornings featured the youth leagues.  Just about every city had a kid's bowling show on local television back then. 

Olympic Bowl was the site of the Rochester production.  Youngsters loved to compete on camera. 

Bowling for Dollars was another popular local bowling show that featured area bowlers competing for money. This also started originally at the Olympic Bowl. 

They used to give bowling instruction to over 300 grade school age kids a week.  The Olympic Bowl was a community fixture.  But once again we have to note, times have changed.  The Olympic Bowl is closed and shuttered.  Plywood covers the doors of the once famed establishment.

What is the reason? Who knows. 

Bowling has always been considered a blue collar sport and this is not the best of times for the blue collar worker. The league bowler was always a big part of a bowling ally's success.  As the local economy suffered cutbacks, fewer teams were sponsored by area businesses and fewer employees had time to bowl in leagues. 

More and more entertainment choices are challenging for the entertainment dollar.  Also, youngsters seem to have such a full selection of activity choices these days, and not everyone bowls.

Of course, these are only theories.  Maybe it is just a cyclical thing that will eventually return. 

Locally, the sport of bowling still seems to be doing very well.  Yates County has two bowling centers that are still very active. 

The Lakeside Lanesare owned by well known Professional Bowling Association star Doug Kent.  Doug is one of the finest bowlers in the country. 

He resides in Newark, and also owns the bowling lanes there. His establishments provide a wide variety of bowling activities for the area and are doing very well. 

The Family Fun Center in Dundee is also very active in their community. 

Both local lanes host a variety of adult and youth bowling activities and leagues including high school events. 

In fact local high school bowling teams in Penn Yan and Dundee, both boy's and girl's, have been very successful the past few years.  Bowling is still an important segment of the community entertainment menu.  Hopefully it will remain vibrant in our communities for years to come. 

There was a time when it seemed everyone seemed to bowl.  But times have changed. 

A Scarborough Research study recently showed about 21 percent  of Rochester area residents enjoyed bowling activities.  Hopefully, that number will grow.  There is an old bowling adage, "the secret to becoming a better bowler is knowing where to put your feet."  Operators of the local bowling establishments hope people will keep putting their feet inside their doors.  So do I.   

MUSTANG BASEBALL REUNION REMINDER

Don't forget the annual former Penn Yan Mustang Baseball Reunion Game will be played on Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Elm Street Field.  Any former Mustang baseball player is welcome to stop by and play or just visit. 

A small reception will be held after the game.  Batting practice is scheduled for 6 p.m. with the game following at 7 p.m. The concession stand will be open to the public. Stop by and catch the game and watch the veteran Mustang hardballers in action again. 

Also one other important Mustang Baseball note:  Congratulations  to current Mustang Tim Eckerson.  He was named to the Second Team All New York State High School Baseball All Star Team last month. 

This is a huge honor for the local Penn Yan junior and a tribute to the Mustang Baseball program.  Tim will be one of the anchors for a strong Mustang Diamond team next spring.