Lykens, Zachetti Super-Senior Co-Player of the Year
Vincent Zachetti (left), Hannastown GC & Lee Lykens (right), Indiana CC
It seems too poetic to be true.
Lee Lykens and Vincent Zachetti played alongside one another in the final round of the final Pennsylvania Golf Association points event: the Art Wall, Jr. Memorial Championship. They walked off the 18th green at Moselem Springs Golf Club, side by side. The two also stood side-by-side atop the Super-Senior Player of the Year standings.
Zachetti used a third-place finish in the Art Wall, Lykens a Top-10 showing to tie one another at 425 points.
“To get enough points to share [the Super-Senior Player of the Year Award] with Lee is a pretty nice feeling,” Zachetti, 70, of Greensburg, Pa., said. “It never even crossed my mind. I wasn’t even thinking about having a chance to win. I didn’t really look at the points list until we were done with the Art Wall.”
“It’s an honor to split it with Vince,” Lykens, 74, of Clearfield, Pa., said. “Of course, I would like to have it myself, but it’s an honor to split it with Vince. He’s a good golfer. It’s an honor to be recognized with him.”
Success on the PAGA circuit is a trend for Lykens, a pastime for Zachetti. The former, an Indiana Country Club member of four years, is a three-time Art Wall, Jr. Memorial Champion (2011-12, 2018) and two-time Senior Amateur Champion (2013, 2020). Of note, Lykens won this year’s Senior Amateur, a weather-shortened affair at Stonewall (North), by carding a 4-under-par 66.
“I couldn’t believe that I did that. Everything came together,” Lykens said. “I played with Gary Daniels and Buck Jones. They kind of spurred me on. It was a great honor to win. That was the biggest highlight of my year.”
Zachetti, too, is accustomed to PAGA success. His, however, came much earlier than the 2020 returns (more on that later). Zachetti, a Hannastown Golf Club member, captured the Amateur Championship in 1989 and earned runner-up honors in 1993. The three-time Western Pennsylvania Golf Association Amateur Champion (1991-92, 1994) turned professional in 2000 following a 19-year career with the US Postal Service. Zachetti spent three years on the Sunbelt Senior Tour before returning home and focusing on golf instruction. He regained his amateur status in 2017 and gradually implemented a swing change, which came full circle in 2020.
“Back when I was winning, I never thought about anything. I just looked at the pin and said, ‘Well, I’m going to hit it there.’ I could trust my swing,” Zachetti said. “Now getting back into competition, you get under the gun, and all of a sudden it’s hard to find that trust again.”
Trust — and trophies — found.
Zachetti teamed with longtime friend and college roommate Robert Allshouse to win the Senior Four-Ball at Southpointe Golf Club. The two, coincidentally, defeated Lykens and Don Erickson, III in a sudden-death playoff that lasted four holes. Zachetti and Allshouse doubled down by capturing the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association Senior Four-Ball two weeks later.
“It was really nice to win with Bob because we do go back to college. After 52 years, I can’t seem to lose him,” Zachetti said.
Zachetti also joined Allshouse and Don Donatoni, a two-time PAGA Super-Senior Player of the Year (2017, 2019) in the Senior Amateur’s runner-up chair. The trio played in the same group.
“We were just teeing off, and we could see that Lee was 4 under and almost done [his round],” Zachetti said. “Don’t I start off birdie, birdie, birdie, and I’m like, ‘Well maybe I can catch him.’ Then I started hitting bad shots and missing critical putts. All of a sudden, golf hit me.”
For both Zachetti and Lykens, golf still struck a chord despite course closures at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The former used his game room for putting practice.
“My rug really isn’t what you’d call a puttable green, but I just worked on my grip and my putting stroke. I would putt 300, 400, 500 balls every day while watching TV. It finally started paying off,” Zachetti said. “It’s not a nice, low carpet, but it was good enough to work on my stroke.”
Lykens ordered a new set of PXG golf clubs, which “helped me mentally.” He also frequented Indiana’s practice facility, working on 50-100-yard shots.
“I practiced a lot, especially with my short game. That’s what really helped me,” Lykens said. “The range was still open. You had to wear a mask and social distance. I was down there a lot, mostly by myself.”
Forget solitude. It’s a sense of camaraderie that draws both Lykens and Zachetti to the Pennsylvania Golf Association circuit.
“I met so many great guys out here,” Lykens, a former PennDOT designer of 35 years, said. “It’s the fellowship with the guys and the golf courses that we play. Most of the golf courses that we play you can’t get on normally except as a guest. It’s an honor to play.”
“When I got into [the match play bracket of the 2018 Senior Match Play Championship], I played Paul Schlachter, the king of the hill basically, in the quarterfinals. I ended up beating him, 1-up,” Zachetti said. “I was walking by the practice green, and Sean (Knapp) and Paul were talking. I said, ‘Forget about our match, Paul. You guys can’t believe how nice it is to get back to amateur golf and to see all of you guys and compete against you after not doing it for 16 years.’ I really missed the fellowship.”
W.C. Fownes, Jr. was the quintessential amateur golfer who led by example and whose good influence - personal and institutional - was extensive. W.C. Fownes' major golf credits include being a Pennsylvania Amateur and U.S. Amateur Champion, Walker Cup organizer, player and team captain, and USGA president.
The William C. Fownes, Jr. Super-Senior Player of the Year Award is given to the player who exemplifies the highest standards of excellence on the golf course in skill, sportsmanship, and etiquette in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.