Golf at the AYF Olympics is a special event. There are certainly some very good golfers playing both as AYFers and even more so as alumni. Talent is in no way a prerequisite to play however. Every year there are golfers at all levels including beginners. It is about the golf, but it is something more as well. It is the social nature and pace of the game that makes this event special. Everyone I have talked to enjoys the day because they get to golf with friends they don’t often see. They get to catch-up. They laugh. They reminisce. And, everyone truly values these offerings of AYF Golf.
There were four women golfers this year. They all played last year and know each other very well. Being only four, everyone scored points. The results were:
- Shayna McCarthy (NJ) 49
- Theresa Jelalian (NJ) 50
- Ani Comella (Prov.) 63
- Araxi Krafian (BOS) 70
Shayna won this year and her Jersey teammate Theresa was second. Shayna lowered her score by seven strokes and Theresa by eight strokes this year to finish within one stroke of each other. It was a close competition, but knowing these ladies, they might not have known how close until they tallied up the scores. They have a lot of fun being together and playing golf.
The men also have a lot of fun playing. There were six golfers, but only five of them were official competitors. There was a mix-up in Nareg Aboyan’s (Greater Boston) registration, and he couldn’t officially compete for a medal. But in great fraternal spirit, he wanted to be out there playing and supporting the others. Kudos to Nareg! The men’s results were:
- Mark Santerian (Phil) 72
- Sam Manuelian (Worc) 86
- Joey Charchaflian (BOS) 86
- Alexan Topalian (Prov) 92
- Shahan Topalian (Prov) 95
Mark Santerian is clearly one of the best golfers in AYF history. He has won five gold medals, three silvers and a bronze in his AYF Golf career. The bronze? It was in his first year, and there was a tie for first. This year he participated in Javelin where he got a silver medal, Discus in which he got a bronze medal, ran two relays for gold and silver, and swam one for gold. He is a very versatile athlete. He has six gold medals in Javelin only to be edged out this year by Providence newcomer Zach Semerjian. Mark always wants to win but respects anyone that can best him.
Mark and Alexan were a twosome. Joey, Sam, Shahan and Nareg were in a foursome. They had a great time. I was able to Facebook Live the medal presentations by Governing Body member in charge of Golf, Rich Keshgegian. If you watch the video, you will get a glimpse of the camaraderie of these AYF and how much fun they have.
In talking with Mark Santerian, he wished more AYFers would play golf and had this observation that is really an invitation to all AYFers and alumni. “If people saw how much fun golf is, more people would play. It is a great way on Friday morning to kick-off the weekend.”
As usual, there were more Alumni Golfers than the AYF men and women put together. One of the alumni foursomes included Ken Topalian (Providence) his nephew Peter Tashian (Philadelphia) and brothers Steve and Jeff Hagopian (Granite City). What a foursome! Ken, Steve and Jeff are all Olympic Kings, though Jeff wouldn’t be crowned such until later that evening, and they all served on the Olympic Governing Body. Peter is an awesome golfer as an AYFer in epic battles with fellow Sebouh, Mark Santerian for gold and silver over several years. Last year, he won the Alumni Golf in his first year as an alumni. I asked Ken if there were any light or comic moments in their round. He quickly responded, “My golfing was a hilarious moment for 18 holes.” He went on to say, “It was a great day to share memories. We talked about the 1970 Olympics in Montreal, the 1972 games in Los Angeles and the 1975 games at the Ponchatrain Hotel in Detroit.”
Peter Tashian, a bit of a surprise to me, did not win the Alumni Golf this year. He was edged out by another Philadelphia alum Mike Manoogian. In chatting with Mike, he said, “I love getting together with AYF friends new and old each Friday of Olympics. I was in a foursome with Armen Zildjian and Maral and Apo Abrahamian. Having played well enough to win was unexpected but gratefully welcomed.” When asked about any special shot, Mike said, “I hit a 9 iron to three feet for birdie on 18. On another hole, I hit 30-foot downhill breaking putt for birdie after Apo helped me with the line.” Congratulations to Mike.
Theresa Jelalian summed up AYF Golf very nicely. “Golf at seniors is much more than winning or losing but being able to play a few rounds with your friends that you grew up with while catching up on each other’s lives. I look around every time at these events, and I am actually speechless with how lucky all of us truly are because of the AYF and who we are. Being part of the AYF is more than just being Armenian. it’s about a bond and friendship that we have created with people from all over with a common goal of staying united.”