Although the snow is still covering the grounds of the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course, Chris Hrycenko, the new golf course pro, is already preparing for the upcoming season.
“This is business and personal. I want to see this course shine like it’s never shined before. It’s my personal mission,” said Hrycenko at an interview on Friday at the muni club house. “Words can’t even describe my excitement, so it’s a big deal to me.”
Hrycenko grew up in Amsterdam, spending his first 13 years here. He recalled that his grandfather, a teacher, was a member of the golf course. However, he didn’t pick up the sport of golfing seriously until age 30, when he started playing against his father.
“Once I decided golf was going to be my sport, I put a lot of time into it,” he said. “I love the fact that it can’t be mastered, that there’s always something to work on, to get better at. I love that because I’m ambitious and goal oriented. So it always gives me something to look forward to, get better at. It’s the ultimate game.”
He started working as an assistant pro at Stadium Golf Club in Schenectady three years go. There he worked for two years with Golf Pro John Souza, who left Stadium last year to form a golf academy in Ballston Spa. When Souza left, Hrycenko said he became the head teaching pro at Stadium.
“Teaching is my passion. I love to teach, it’s in my blood,” he said.
Hrycenko said he looks at his new position in Amsterdam as an opportunity to start a legacy. He expressed admiration for Joe Merendo, the previous golf pro, as an example to follow.
“[Merendo] was here for 32 years. And I think that’s a testament to the community, to Joe himself, the job he did and the love and support that he gained over the years.”
The history of the course is an important part of what defines its character. Being designed by the renowned architect Robert Trent Jones, the course opened in 1938 and was attended by famous golfers at the time such as Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson.
“It’s like having Tiger Woods show up on day one of your course, it’s a big deal,” said Hrycenko.
The high-profile beginnings of the course make it “hallowed ground” for golf fans. Building on its past, Hrycenko said he wants to improve all aspects of the course.
“Each and every day we want to show more value. So we want to get better in any little way, whether it’s our practice facilities, whether it’s our clubhouse, whether it’s the overall maintenance of the course, we are looking to improve every single day,” he said.
In addition to renovations at the pro shop, which are already under way, Hrycenko said that holding more tournaments will be a goal for the coming season. Currently, the first tournament of the season is being planned for June, as well as a special 80-year anniversary tournament and possibly a city championship tournament.
“We want to bring back the city championship,” he said. “We have a lot of really good golfers in this area that I think want to compete and be recognized for the work they’ve put in.”
“The members that have been here for years, they love this course,” said Hrycenko. “And I want to make sure that nothing skips a beat, as far as service is concerned, as far as energy goes. We want our fairways to be meticulous, we want our greens to be beautiful, we want this course to just make you feel it’s a place you want to be as much as possible.”
“We’re going to work hard to make sure our staff provides that for the community. They deserve it and we’re going to work hard to provide it for them.”