Bontz Claims Open Title
Rain Shortens Tournament At Peek’n Peak’s Upper Course
FINDLEY LAKE — The National Amputee Golf Association hosted both the 71st annual Open Championship as well as the 30th Senior Open Championship and 8th International Cup at The Upper Course at Peek’n Peak Resort this week.
Unfortunately action was cut short for the Open and Senior Open Championship on Thursday, but play is expected to resume today with the first International Cup Matches beginning at 7:30 a.m. and continuing throughout the day.
Through two rounds of play, Kenny Bontz was the Open champion, carding rounds of 71 and 74 to finish four shots ahead of Adam Benza (77-72), and Ryan Brendon (75-74).
Despite the rainy conditions on Thursday and the cancellation of the final round of play, there were still some hearty members of the field out on the links enjoying their time in Western New York.
“This is an amazing group of people that are more abled than disabled,” said four-time Senior champion Lucian Newman of Gadsden, Alabama. “We have disabilities that don’t enter the equation because we’re all out here playing golf and having fun.”
Newman has enjoyed over a decade with the NAGA, and was part of a geographically diverse foursome on Thursday.
His playing partners included Steve Terpak of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, John LeMieux of Portland, Maine and Woody Walker of Brisbane, Australia.
Adding to the international flavor of the field was Vancouver, Canada native Johannes Grames.
Carding rounds of 81 and 84, Grames took some time out of his day on Thursday to work with a new member of the NAGA on the driving range — William Hoy of Columbus, Ohio.
“I’m a beginner golfer too and I’ve got my game up three steps already just by Johannes being here and taking the time,” Hoy said. “People are amazing. They want you to succeed and do good so he’s taken time out of his practice to help me. That’s what I find amazing.”
Grames has spent around 19 years playing events around the world with the NAGA, and has come to appreciate the game of golf as a great equalizer.
“I actually played some golf as a teenager and lost my leg when I was 22,” Grames said. “I played a lot of basketball, a lot of sports, and I kind of didn’t really have a game to play. I could play wheelchair basketball but I couldn’t play with my buddies.
In addition to making a point to play the US Championship and Canadian Championship most years, Grames has also had the opportunity to play in Japan as well as South Africa.
“Golf was a game that I could actually play with my friends on an equal basis. It’s a great game for disabled players,” Grames added. “You can go out and some of the guys here are amazing players, shooting under par sometimes.”