Local Club Has Long History Of Success Preparing Professionals

Posted on Aug 12 2016 - 3:32pm by Nick Sardina
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LITCHFIELD – There are numerous great golf clubs in Central New York.

Not many can match the talent that has come out of Cedar Lake Club.

Cedar Lake Club has current and former members competing, instructing or working on courses throughout the entire United States. That success spans over several decades and there are far too many accomplished players and teachers to name.


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A shot of Cedar Lake Club’s club house and putting green from the 18th fairway. Photo by Jeff Pexton – Perfect Game Imaging


From Moira Dunn, Doll Story and Lynn Marriott to Bob Forward, Johnny Cuomo, Craig Currier and Derek Bard, Cedar Lake has former, current and future stars of the game.

“I don’t know of any other club that has turned out so many golf professionals,” said Kevin Reid, who has been at Cedar Lake for 29 years, and is Director of Golf Operations.

“There are so many of our members that are pros teaching all over the country,” Reid said. “It’s hard to believe there are other clubs with that many.”

Two of Reid’s sons were also high-level players and now are teaching professionals. Paul is the teaching pro at Cedar Lake, while James is a pro at Eugene Country Club in Oregon.

Cedar Lake Club is now 250 members strong and their ability to cater to the youth, women and families is what helps make Cedar Lake a top flight facility.

“It has to do with a combination of a unique club,” longtime member Roy Smith said. “It’s not just golf, but its family oriented, and they come up and stay. Our club has always been youth friendly. And that’s one of the reasons it’s successful. They are allowed to play almost any time. Then one family brings in another family. It is also women friendly, couple friendly and family friendly.”


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The trademark small, undulating greens are what makes Cedar Lake Club a tough layout. Photo by Jeff Pexton – Perfect Game Imaging


Cedar Lake’s success dates back decades to the early 1900’s. The club was built by members in 1927.  The club continued to develop through two world wars and started to really take off in the 1950s and ’60s.

One of their most notable members was Bob Forward, who enjoyed success a junior player, before becoming a PGA Master Professional, and recently has been a coach and general manager and director of golf operations in Florida.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Johnny Cuomo was a top junior golfer at the club. He went on to win several amateur titles and still is winning them in his new home state of Virginia. Cuomo won the 2015 Virginia State Golf Association Super Senior Stroke Play Championship.

Cuomo’s era had a major impact on the future success of the club.

“My family became members of Cedar Lake approximately in 1954 when I was seven years old,” Cuomo said. “I started playing golf and grew into it as I got stronger and older.  As I developed along with my inseparable friends and golfing buddies, Teddy Roser and Georgie Williams, we had numerous teachers and adult players to learn from.
“Louis (Rip) Ripka, the superintendent allowed us to get to “know” the golf course from ground level.  We would help Rip with aerification, mow greens, and stay up nights helping to change sprinklers (no automatic watering systems) and do whatever we could to help. … First Leo Grygiel and than Gene Taylor were our club professionals that gave us and many other kids lessons on a weekly basis.
“Our lessons with Mr. Taylor were conducted on the fifth fairway and players would have to go around us. Gene would also work with whomever on a one on one basis and never said no. I still have pictures he took of my swing for discussion purposes. I vividly remember having a swing problem in the NY State Am.  I called Gene and his comments help correct the issue. Emerson Roser, played baseball with the NY Yankees, along with Don Williams would take us on the course and we would play for a 10 cent drink.  We were always playing for something at a young age.
“Fine players like Fred Smith, Lou Dutton, Vic Riccio, Bob Westerling, Bill Levin and later Stan Opalka and Rudy Hass allowed us to play with them as we developed our games as teenager’s.  Along with our fundamentals these men pushed us to catch up to their abilities.”

In 1967 Doll Story brought additional spotlight to Cedar Lake Club. Story won the 1967 USGA National Girls Amateur Championship. From there the club began to really thrive, finishing major renovations to the club house in 1974 which helped add to its membership.

In the ’80s, Currier and David Pughe were some of the top players at Cedar Lake. Like Currier, Pughe is also a superintendant, and is currently at American Golf Corporation and Pelham Bay & Split Rock Golf Courses in the Bronx.

Cedar Lake also helped produce Dunn, a native of Utica, who played on the LPGA Tour and won the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic in 2004. She continues to play sporadically on tour, but when she’s not at Cedar Lake, she’s teaching near her home in Tampa, Fla.


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Despite a dry, hot summer, Cedar Lake Club remains in top condition. Photo by Jeff Pexton – Perfect Game Imaging


Dunn grew up playing at Cedar Lake and won titles at the 1989 New York State Junior Girls Championship, the 1992-94 New York State Women’s Amateur Championships and the 1992 Women’s Western Amateur Championship.

“There’s a lot of stuff to do there,” said Dunn. “Any night you go out at 6:30 or 7 and you could still play 18 and the course was empty. We’d have a field day with that. … It also helps when you have a lot of talented kids playing with younger kids. Some of the younger kids that are members are probably in awe of watching Derek Bard play at the Masters and then playing at Cedar Lake.

“It’s an amazing place. I loved it when I was kid, but didn’t know how lucky I was. You could play 100 rounds in the summer and play day after day. You could swim; play tennis or volleyball, and many other things. There’s more than just golf there. So you wouldn’t get bored. … Now those who played there as juniors, are in their 30s and 40s and are coming back with their families.”

Marriott and Currier are also huge names in the golf industry. Marriott is one of the top teachers in the world. She’s given instructions on the Golf Channel and currently is the co-creator of VISION54, a unique coaching program that integrates both the technical and human skills of the game. Marriott is also an author and is No. 2 in the Golf Magazine’s rankings of America’s 50 Best Women Teachers.

Currier was a prominent superintendent who prepared Bethpage Black for two U.S. Opens. And the list of top Cedar Lake professionals of goes on and on.

The current group could end up being another special crop of Cedar Lake members. The most prominent is Derek Bard, who has already built one of the best high school and amateur records in the history of Central New York. Bard, a senior at the University of Virginia, played in the 2016 Masters and U.S. Open after finishing runner-up in the 2015 United States Amateur. He’s a five-time Class A champion, has three Section 3 titles and won the 2012 state tournament and 2013 Federation event at Bethpage Black.


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The difficulty of the greens have helped members at Cedar Lake Club fine tune their short game. Photo by Jeff Pexton – Perfect Game Imaging


Bard credits Cedar Lake in helping him accomplish some of his goals in the game.

“All of the members are phenomenal,” Bard said. “They’re very supportive of the junior golfers. The junior program is by far the best in the area … the way it is set up and run and the number of kids it brings out. It’s an awesome environment.”

Smith, 74, joined Cedar Lake in 1970 with his wife Barbara. He’s been one of the top local amateurs for 40-plus years with numerous local amateur titles and around 10 club titles at Cedar Lake. During that span, Smith has seen the development of Cedar Lake and doesn’t hide his pride in being a member.

“Every since I’ve been there, they’ve had a strong youth program,” said Smith. “Kids come up all the way through. We had Doll Story, Lynn Marriott, Renee Kelleher and Moira Dunn. So having those young girls got it started. Now we have a real strong contingent of kids that have gone on in the business. Bob Forward is a master PGA rules official, and then you had the Reid boys, Mark Tucker, Todd and Wayne Manderson and Jeff Reader, who were or are still teaching pros. Now you have the current group that get together to play and develop their skills. … It’s just a great atmosphere to improve and challenge yourself.”

The young members showed their might and tremendous talent while playing the New York State Amateur at Mohawk Golf Club in Schenectady this week. Mandel, Migliore and both Bard’s played in the New York State Amateur this week at Mohawk Golf Club in Schenectady. Derek Bard finished third and Dante Migliore (25th) and Alec Bard (21st) both had solid showings, while Mandel just missed making the cut.

Alec Bard (Penn State), Mandel (Binghamton) and Matt Dreimiller (St. Bonaventure) each earned Division I scholarships. Bobby Davenport, who was a member, and Migliore are currently two of the best golfers in junior college. In June, Migliore (MVCC) won the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III Golf Championship at Chautaugua Golf Club.

The promise of this group has the chance to live up to and even surpass the success of previous eras.

“I think the big thing is we let them play,” Reid said of his junior members. “A lot of private clubs say they have junior programs, but they never let the kids on the course. The availability at this golf course is the biggest reason for success. They’re playing tournament golf against good competition every day. I have to believe that lends itself to them becoming better players.”

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The availability for juniors to get out on the course is what has helped bring top talent to Cedar Lake Club. Photo by Jeff Pexton – Perfect Game Imaging


Aside from the competitive membership, Dreimiller and Dunn feel certain characteristics of Cedar Lake Club have certainly aided the development of so many skilled players.

“I learned to play here,” Dreimiller said. “It definitely prepares me because it’s very difficult. It teaches you to be better mentally because you need to learn how to recover and bounce back from bad holes. If you can be a good putter here you can be a good putter nearly anywhere. Playing here makes other greens seem a lot easier.”

Dunn views Cedar Lake’s 6,477-yard layout as one that challenges a player’s ability to strategize and think their way around a course.

“I think one of the biggest things is it has really difficult greens,” said Dunn. “I think you go other places and you don’t see slopes and greens like the ones there. Learning how to position the ball on greens and on the whole course is something that makes you better. … I think it teaches how to play smart and position the ball. Because if you can’t do that … you can make some big numbers.”

The path to success in the game of golf has been blazed by their predecessors. Now, it’ll be fun to watch and see how this new group of Cedar Lake members will make their mark on the industry.

Historic Dates for Cedar Lake Club
Cedar Lake Club is organized as ‘Mason’s Outing Club’
1928: Name changed to Cedar Lake Club; Club house built
1935: Cedar Lake Club Inc. takes over the golf course
1963: Expansion of the Course from 9 to 18 holes
1964: 18-hole course was opened for play
1974: Club house remodeling finished including kitchen, pro shop, office, dining area, upstairs bar and new downstairs bar.

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Nick Sardina is a writer for 
midyorksportsreport.com. Follow Nick onTwitter @nsardinamysr or on Facebook. Contact him via email at