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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Sports > Golf

Tournament Directors had big role in ‘Democrat's' success

Jul 31, 2020

CALLICOON - Villa Roma Director of Golf Matthew Kleiner and retired Jeff-Y Athletic Director Paul Zintel have made the Sullivan County Democrat Two-Man Better Ball Golf Tourney what it is today.
These two gentlemen are the only Tournament Directors that the 39-year-old tourney has ever known and their behind-the-scenes work, attention to detail and knowledge of the game of golf has made the ‘Democrat' a favorite among amatuer golfers throughout the region.
In fact, it was Paul Zintel, along with the late Fred Stabbert Jr., who started ‘the Democrat' back in 1982.
“Paul, Fred, and Mitchell and Mark Etess did an incredible job of just getting the tournament going,” nine-time Democrat winner Ken Cohen said. “To get it started was a yeoman's job.

“The tournament was also blessed to be played at Grossinger's - it was just a great golf course,” Cohen said.
After Grossinger's closed, the tournament shifted to the Villa Roma Country Club in Callicoon in 1988, where hotel owner Marty Passante, an avid golfer, and Golf Director Matthew Kleiner took over.
“Matt and Marty really picked up the ball and ran with it,” Cohen said. “They made the tournament better than the earlier years.”
“As golfers in this county know, this event is the premier golf tournament every year,” Kleiner said. “The format is like none other and the players feel like they are on a three-day vacation. It draws the best players every year and it is also fun for the average players. All players are in a division where they can compete to win. Let's tee it up.”
And that was the mantra from the beginning.
Zintel, who was known for his no-nonsense approach to sports and organizing, said, “We wanted to make this a tourney where golfers could show off their ability - no handicaps involved.
“I liked competition and if it is done right, you'll get a lot of people to play,” Zintel , who now lives in Kentucky, said. “Fred [Jr.] and I worked hard on it and I'm so happy it's still going today. It makes me so happy.”
Zintel, who will turn 90 later this year, said he still gets a little golf in.
And through the years, the Democrat has continued to attract some of the best golfers around.
“Rad Yaun, Josh Goldstein, Sean Semenetz… they wouldn't have come if the Democrat wasn't a real tournament,” Cohen, himself a MGA tournament winner, said. “If you look at the list of winners and players in the Democrat tournament through the years it's a who's who of the best golfers to come out of Sullivan County.
“It's not easy [running the Democrat]” Cohen said.

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