rolex logo

MGA Public Links Championship Features a GOLFWORKS Touch

ELMSFORD, N.Y. (June 11, 2024) - The 76th MGA Public Links Championship will be held June 13 at Spook Rock Golf Course in Suffern, N.Y. This year, the MGA is celebrating the 30th year of the MGA Foundation's GOLFWORKS program. The two events are connected through Spook Rock's golf course superintendent, Herman 'Trapper' Van Dunk.

Van Dunk was part of the inaugural class of GOLFWORKS interns in 1994 when he worked on the grounds crew at The Tuxedo Club. Van Dunk worked with his father, Burgess on the grounds crew, and for then-superintendent Carney McGrady at The Tuxedo Club. Trapper was the first GOLFWORKS alum to pursue a career in the golf industry.

Initially, Van Dunk wanted to be a lawyer and worked at The Tuxedo Club ‘just to spend time with his dad’. After Trapper entered the GOLFWORKS program, his perspective changed. “Now I had a real job. I was working under Carney, and between him and my dad I began to learn a lot. I began to understand the pressures that the superintendent faced. People expected more of me, and it made me want to do well,” he recalls.

The first time Van Dunk had it mentioned to him about pursuing this as a career was when former director of the USGA Green Section Committee Al Radko when the two met at Tuxedo while Radko was consulting for the club. “It was the first time I had thought about it seriously,” he says. In 1999, Van Dunk graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Turfgrass Management.

Spook Rock last worked with the GOLFORKS program in 2010, and Van Dunk is eager to bring it back to the course in the future. Van Dunk has worked at courses and clubs that have been involved with the program in the past at Leewood Golf Club--where he was superintendent for nine-plus years--and Manhattan Woods Golf Club, and takes pride in seeing kids pass through the program and have the same experiences as he did as an intern.

"When I played (here) in high school, I always thought it would be cool to be the superintendent at Spook Rock. Being a part of GOLFWORKS with Mr. Mottola and Jeanne (McCooey), I always wanted to make them proud of me for bringing me on as one of the pilot groups," notes Van Dunk.

Trapper has been a superintendent and worked on grounds crews at other clubs and courses in the area, including Tamarack Country Club, the Cedarbrook Club, and Leewood Golf Club. But he’s still learning about his new course and the challenge of hosting an MGA Championship.

"Learning the property, what I know is playing it, not as the superintendent seeing the intricacies of a golf course. It’s my job to find those intricacies so the [championship] goes off without a hitch."

Spook Rock is no stranger to hosting the MGA Public Links Championship. This year will be the ninth time it has served as host. The course last hosted in 2016 when Michael Miranda won the title and first hosted in 1987, when Mark Mielke won. Matthew Lowe headlines this year’s field of talented competitors as the defending champion after his triumph at Bethpage Red last year.

Trapper adds, "Being around golf my whole life, having the ability to be at the top of my game as a superintendent, and coming from the GOLFWORKS program, it means a lot to me to put a product out there that I could be proud of, my team can be proud of, and have the GOLFWORKS program to be proud of."

Van Dunk and his crew cannot wait for the 36-hole championship to show what Spook Rock offers.

Founded in 1994, the MGA Foundations' GOLFWORKS program gives high school students exposure to career opportunities within the golf industry. The young adults who participate in GOLFWORKS complete an internship in a golf environment, learning the lessons of honor, integrity, and tradition as well as an activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. In addition, GOLFWORKS provides real-world work experiences, networking opportunities, and a way for interns to learn the skills necessary to pursue their career interests. To learn more, contact Lou Cutolo at