DON DONATONI, since becoming Super-Senior eligible in 2013, has hoisted the winner’s trophy 15 out of a possible 25 times in individual
Golf Association of Philadelphia tournaments
(Brewer Cup, Chapman Cup (Gross), Senior
Amateur, Senior Silver Cross, Warner Cup
(Gross)). That’s a win percentage of 60.
He’s also 5-for- 5 when it comes to raising
the Super-Senior Player of the Year Award. He
did that in 2017, once again, by a smashing
212.5 points. Donatoni totaled 712.5 points.
His closest foe was Buck Jones of Philadelphia
Publinks GA at 500.
However, this season wasn’t as much
about victories as it was about a one-round
performance on the grandest stage in the
most pressurized of circumstances. At age 69,
Donatoni was one of the U.S. Senior Amateur’s
His opening-round 79 at The Minikahda
Club in Minneapolis, Minn., made an early
exit seem inevitable. But never question
Donatoni’s competitive spirit. Flash back to
2015 in the last round of the Association’s Senior
Amateur at the Union League Golf Club
at Torresdale in which Donatoni played an
entire round with a gash on his hand due to
an injury suffered on the range. He required
five stitches post round. He miraculously
finished third, a stroke back.
In the U.S. Senior Amateur’s second round,
Donatoni the bulldog gritted it out. He recorded
a 1-under 71 with five birdies and four bogeys.
Only 11 other rounds posted that day were better. He eventually tied for 40th to make match
play of the National Championship for a second
time in four attempts.
“I was very proud of that effort because the
pressure was on,” said Donatoni, of Malvern,
Pa. “I knew I had to go low to have any chance
of getting into match play and I got it done. I’d
only been into match play one time previously.”
Donatoni was the second oldest player
to advance to the Round of 64. Ironically, he
played the oldest, Larry Clark, 70, of Kingston,
Ga. He defeated Clark, 4& 2. His second-round
foe was the Golf Association of Philadelphia
Senior Player of the Year Chip Lutz. Lutz
bettered Donatoni, 5& 4, in a battle for area
“I was down after that first round,” said an
introspective Donatoni. “But I entered that day
feeling like I had nothing to lose. I knew I was
better than I showed. I wanted to prove I could
play this game. And there is no shame in losing
Donatoni scored 150 points from qualifying
and the event proper.
In all, the White Manor legend (winner of 32
club championships – 19 amateur, 13 senior)
tallied points in nine Senior events. He won
a fourth Brewer Cup (Super Senior); his first
Pennsylvania Golf Association Super-Senior
Amateur; the Senior Match Play Super-Senior
and Senior Four-Ball Stroke Play (Super Senior
Flight) with partner Carl Everett. He tied for
second in the Super Senior Division of the
Francis B. Warner Cup (Gross), placed third in
the shortened Super-Senior Silver Cross and
ended up fourth in the reduced Senior Amateur
Championship (Super Senior).
“We play the game for a couple of reasons,”
said Donatoni. “We love the game and we love
the competition. I have found myself in the
last five years enjoying the success and finding
myself at the top of a very competitive group
“I know I have to work hard to retain that
position. I was used to doing the chasing. Now
I’m the one being chased. I have to run faster.
That’s what motivates me to try to continue
to play well. I want to compete in the national
events and invitationals and do well.”
To that point, Donatoni took a second
straight Sunnehanna Invitational title and
placed third in defense of his North & South
Championship at Pinehurst Resort. He also
recorded a come-from-behind victory in the
prestigious Society of Seniors Championship
(Super-Senior Division) at Innisbrook Golf
Resort in Tampa, Fla.
Donatoni understands Father Time is lurking.
But that’s of real no concern.
“I think the game means so much to me I’m
going to continue to play unless I begin to embarrass myself,” said Donatoni. “I’ll know when
to quit. It’ll be obvious. Even now, as I advance
into my 70s, I feel I’m physically and mentally
capable of playing well. When I look back over
the last few years, I’ve been able to maintain a
certain consistent level of play and I don’t see
that changing anytime soon unless I develop
or sustain an injury.
“One thing that bothers me is I can’t see
the ball like I once used to. I can’t see the ball
land on the green or where it is at. If that’s the
worst thing, then that’s OK. I can go and get
His Super-Senior track record is better than
20/20 vision. m
White Manor Country Club
BY MARTIN D. EMENO, JR.
SUPER-SENIOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR