On the eve of the first day of summer, Matt Zuntag will hit the greens on a warm Sunday in June accompanied by his son and golf colleague William Zuntag. It’s also the final day of the Steven F. Zuntag Memorial Tournament at Silver Lake – and Steven is the only thing missing from an otherwise perfect Father’s Day.
The Zuntags are two of a field of 70 entrants in the annual tournament named in memory of Matt’s late father and Staten Island Sports Hall of Famer, Steven Zuntag. Birthday in his 51st year (last year was canceled due to the pandemic), began in 1971 and was renamed after the late Eltingville resident seven years ago.
“I’d rather play with him than just remember,” admits Matt. “We play to honor our memory of him.”
Steven Zuntag was a legend in local golf history. Port Richmond HS # 1 player and later MAC champion at Wagner College, Zuntag was also a two-time SI amateur champion (1971, 1992) and four-time senior champion. He was also President of the Staten Island Golf Association from 1973 to 2014 and was responsible for planning and organizing most of the local tournaments and events.
Matt was his father’s caddy for his ’92 amateur championship round.
“It was very exciting. He won his first (1971) when I was still in diapers,” said the 52-year-old, who followed in his father’s footsteps as the organizer and director of the NYC Amateur Championships. is half of what he did. He did everything almost all by himself, he was responsible for everything. I think he just wanted to make sure things were done right.
“It’s like a legacy passed down to do some of what he’s done,” he added. “He was a giant. He kept things going. “
Has he ever kept things going?
In 1970 he reorganized a crumbling Staten Island Golf Association and made it the powerful organization it is today.
In 1988 he chaired the committee that organized the first New York City Amateur Championship, popular in the metropolitan area and held in LaTourette every Memorial Day weekend.
In addition to sponsoring junior and senior golf tournaments on Staten Island, Steven Zuntag is known for his role in the city moving its golf courses to private operators. He was the one who upheld the average club golfer’s right to play on our local town courses with reserved tee times.
Matt has competed in this tournament every year since 1985 and says he has played with his father in this tournament 30 times over the years.
“It’s a good event for everyone, but it would be better if he were here,” he said. “He would be happy if there were so many competitors. It’s all about this. It is a great honor to be able to continue it. “
William, 19, was also very interested in his grandfather’s legacy and passed the torch on to his father.
“He knows what he’s done and he sees a lot of what I’m doing,” said Matt. “He helps me out with NYC amateurs and other events. He appreciates it. “
It would complete a picture-perfect ending if Matt and William both prevailed on Sunday.
“It would be really special if we win,” said Matt. “It would be even better than Phil Mickelson [winning the PGA championship]. I was hoping we could be here on Father’s Day. “