Niagara Gazette — They may not be as young as the players who come to Niagara Falls Country Club in July for the better-known version of the Porter Cup, but they’re quite talented in their own right. In fact, some have national rankings at stake.
Some of them are even among the top 10 nationally. And others are coming from as far away as Hong Kong and Great Britain to participate in the Senior Porter Cup, which gets underway today with the first of three scheduled rounds.
The first group tees off at 7:30 a.m. In all, 119 seniors will compete in a tournament that plays a significant role in determining national rankings for senior level amateur golf.
“It’s equally as prestigious in the senior amateur golf market as the Porter Cup is in the college kids and the nationally-ranked amateurs,” said Fred Silver, tournament director of the Senior Porter Cup. “It’s a really big deal.”
Silver is himself a storied amateur golfer. After winning the Niagara Falls Country Club championship in 1972, the same year he won the Buffalo District Amateur Championship, he qualified to compete in the Porter Cup and remained a fixture in the tournament for over three decades. He won the Senior Porter Cup in 1996 and is the defending Super Senior champion. He’s enshrined in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
Those are just the ideal credentials that make him respected among other golfers nationwide. So, when he’s looking to find talent to compete in the Senior Porter Cup, people pay attention.
“All I have to do is say ‘Porter Cup’ because the national recognition of the Porter Cup is incredible,” said Silver. “A lot of them remember either coming here as college players or not being able to come here because they didn’t have the proper credentials to get invited.”
Even at the Senior level, many are interested but not all are chosen.
Among the local talents Silver identified as player to watch: Mike McNulty, who held the early lead in last year’s tournament and finished tied for eighth, former champion Jim Smith and Frank Broderick.
Then there are some significant national talents to watch. These include defending Senior Porter Cup champion Mac McGee of Texas, two-time winner Ron Carter of Indiana and Rick LaRose from Arizona.
“I think we have eight of the top ten nationally ranked seniors and super seniors (age 65 and older) in the country,” Silver said.
The weather is forecasted to be ideal for the tournament — “Chamber of Commerce weather,” as Silver described it. Of course, the Senior Porter Cup brings plenty more reason for local chambers of commerce and business promotion groups to smile.
“Probably a third of the field stays in Lewiston and the other two-thirds stay in downtown Niagara Falls, so it’s good for the local economy as well,” said Silver. “Good for hotels, good for restaurants. It’s a win-win all the way.”