Down the Fairway: Daily uses 12-step program to regain self-confidence

Dal Daily knows what it’s like to be King of the Hill in Northeast New York’s PGA Hill. The Albuquerque, New Mexico native has been the section’s five-time Player of the Year and won the prestigious NENY PGA Stroke Play Championship four times in a row to accompany two Donald Ross Classic titles and a Match Play crown at the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But the tall, lanky former teacher at Roland Stafford School and head of Cobleskill Golf & Country Club, Windham Country Club and more recently Battenkill Country Club was set to give up competitive golf in June when it emerged that Father Time finally got the best of him.
Now 61, Daily has lost confidence and almost his desire to play with his fellow pros, especially since the state of his game no longer allowed him to be an elite player – despite countless hours spent practicing and perfecting his profession.

That all changed on June 16, when he got a little help from a few friends.

“I have been sober for 15 years,” Daily said proudly this week. “But 84 days ago I hit rock bottom with my attitude on the golf course. It was after the Donald Ross Classic, and I played so badly that I made a comment on Facebook about quitting competitive golf. I was not having fun and brought it home. So I decided to finally apply the 12-step recovery program I used to quit drinking to improve my golfing attitude and game. I know how to use the program, but I wasn’t.

Since the day Daily started using the same kind of mental techniques that helped him recover from alcohol abuse, his game has changed completely.

“My average score has gone from 77 before June 15 to 71 since then,” Daily said. “Most importantly, I am a happier, more positive person. It happened to me. Like so many extremely hyper competitive people, I was putting myself down, but not anymore. I don’t do a physically different thing with my game. I actually did less physical work and practice.

Daily, who also has three NENY PGA Senior Player of the Year awards on his CV, thanks his good friend Tim Daigle, who played nine holes with him on this June 16 special, as well as his “village” of assistants like Steven Yellin, Cameron Strachan, Bill Presse IV, Sam Hahn and Ben Jackson for helping him get back on his feet.

“It’s silly stuff like looking at birds and trees or holding your head up instead of looking down when things go wrong,” Daily said. “It’s not a magic pill, but even on the days when I don’t play very well, it doesn’t bother me that much now. Cameron Strachan has been my putting coach, but he doesn’t let me practice more than five minutes on my putting. And Ben Jackson has helped me swing faster, but it’s more about the mental aspect of letting me swing faster. It took me a lot of years to learn the mind, but I think I have it now.

Daily’s mental transformation seemed to be complete when he finished second in current Section No.1 Scott Berliner in the Professional Championship recently at Hiland Park CC. This runner-up effort qualified him for the Professional National Championship, something that has been on his bucket list for a very long time.

“Like all golfers, I have a to-do list,” he explained. “I tried the [PGA] Tour School and Senior Tour School, when I missed four shots. I played in a major tournament, the Senior PGA Championship 2013, but I have never qualified for the PGA Professional Championship before. Now I really only have one thing left on my to-do list: photograph my age. To do that, you have to either play really, really well or get really, really old.

“This year has been so rewarding. Hopefully I’ll be the oldest player in the Professional National Championship. My golf swing won’t change at 61, and my technique won’t change much, but my attitude and perspective have changed a lot.

Daily is not only an exceptional player, but he is also known for his talents as a teacher. I asked him what his most important fundamentals were.

“The # 1 thing for me in teaching is the grip and setup,” he said. “But because of all the new technology, I’ve learned that there isn’t necessarily one handle and one setup for everyone. You have to match them up, and that’s really important. If you want to have a strong hold and be effective, then the person has to fade. It is the opposite of what you think. If you have weak grip you have to play a draw.

Daily currently teaches Premier Golf Fitness in Clifton Park. He will definitely be heading to Florida next month with his wife, Laura, and has said he will be missed by all of his friends here in the Capital Region.

“I’ve spent about a third of my life here in this area,” the University of New Mexico graduate said. “But I’m going to stay in touch and follow what everyone else is doing here.”

Laura Diaz, a Nova Scotia native, who has won the LPGA Tour twice, teamed up with Jan Stephenson to win the LPGA Legends Tour BJ Charity Championship this week at Ridge Club in Sandwich, Massachusetts. . They were 13 under par and beat the Trish Johnson-Laura Davies tandem suddenly.

Scott Berliner, pro assistant at Saratoga Spa Golf Course, won the NENY PGA National Car Rental Assistant Professional Championship this week with a score of 68-71-139 at the Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. He won $ 1,200 and will compete in the 45th National PGA Rental Car Assistants’ Championship Nov. 11-14 at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The next event for the area’s club pros will be the Pro Classic No. 4 on Monday at the Waubeeka Country Club in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Amsterdam’s municipal golf course will host the NENY PGA qualifying match play on Wednesday, while Normanside CC will entertain the match play championship finals from September 21-22.

The deadline to register for the Hales Mills Club Championship is Sunday. The registration fee is $ 25. It will be a match play format. Call 518-736-4622 for more information.

The Shaker Ridge Country Club is hosting the NYS Mid-Amateur Championship from September 24-26.

The 2021 Bill Moll Triple Play Championship is scheduled for September 27 at Eagle Crest Golf Club. Two-person teams will compete over nine holes each in scrambling, Chapman alternate shot and best ball formats. The registration fee is $ 240 per team. The team can be made up of two amateurs or one amateur with a pro. The registration deadline is September 20.

There are three more big events planned for the Schenectady Municipal Golf Course this season. The Mayor’s Tournament will take place on September 21 with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. It will be a 9 hole event. The Champions League tournament is scheduled for October 1-3 with knockout matches. The Bob Haggerty two-man championship is scheduled for October 9-10 with a registration fee of $ 150 per person. The entrance fee includes a cart, lunch on the first day and dinner on the second day. Call Schenectady Municipal at 518-381-3155 for more information.

A fundraising golf outing for the municipal mission of Schenectady will take place on September 25 at the Mohawk River Country Club & Chateau. Green fees are $ 50 and a minimum tax deductible donation of $ 40 to the Municipal Mission of Schenectady is requested. for more information, contact [email protected]
Rotary clubs across the Capital Region are sponsoring the 23rd Annual “Gift of Life International Golf Tournament” on September 20 at Pinehaven Country Club. Proceeds help fund the transport of children from around the world to Albany Medical Center for needed pediatric heart surgery that cannot be performed in their home country. To register to play or to support the event through sponsorships, go to or call Richard Suker at 518-858-8839.

Michelle Rooney hit the 14th 100-yard hole with an 8 iron at Briar Creek. It was his second career hole-in-one.

Contact Bob Weiner at [email protected].

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