A Rain-Soaked Day of Golf for Sibling Courses’ Bragging Rights

On Wednesday morning, the Vanny Lu Cup — a modest trophy with a gilded golfer on top – took its place on a shelf in a small dining area at the Mosholu Golf Course in the Bronx.

“It’s not the U.S. Open or the Ryder Cup, but it means something to us,” said Tony DeSimone, a part-time cashier at Mosholu, a city-owned course that opened in 1914.

Mosholu lies next to the Van Cortlandt Golf Course in the northwest part of the borough. Van Cortlandt, which opened in 1895, calls itself the nation’s oldest public course. There has long been debate whether Mosholu or Van Cortlandt has the better layout, faster greens and shorter waits — and which has the better-playing employees.

Van Cortlandt is an 18-hole, full-size course, and its players claim superiority as long drivers and all-around golfers. Players at Mosholu, a nine-hole course with many par-3 holes, have a reputation as short-game specialists. While Van Cortlandt has a bigger staff to choose from, Mosholu has some highly skilled instructors working at youth golf programs that have flourished at Mosholu in recent years.

Four years ago the clubs began an annual challenge match between Mosholu and Van Cortlandt’s rangers, who patrol the courses in golf carts. Last year, the competition was opened to the rest of the staff, including teaching professionals. The challenge was named the Vanny Lu, a catchy melding of both course names, and the trophy was displayed in the winner’s home clubhouse.

Van Cortlandt won the first year, lost the second and won again last year.

“This is the revenge match,” said Mr. DeSimone, Mosholu’s team captain and the organizer of the competition, as the teams played on Tuesday in the rain.

The participants are decent golfers, mostly shooting in the 80s, and the eight-member teams were divided into four pairs each, with scores counted for each hole won. They played 18 holes at Van Cortlandt in the morning, where Mosholu won three matches and tied the fourth.

During afternoon play on Mosholu’s nine holes, the rain turned torrential. Just ask Mosholu’s Carlos Echeverria, who at one point chose a five-iron for his second shot, only to have the club slip out of his hands and fly down the fairway after his ball.

Mr. Echeverria’s partner, Tom Palmgren, laughed, and their opponent, Chris Ryan, said, “He couldn’t do that again if he tried.”

Mr. Ryan, who works in the Van Cortlandt pro shop, said his partner had thrown in the towel at lunchtime. So he had to play solo against the Mosholu pair’s best score and was permitted to hit two shots each time and use the better one.

“It’s mulligan golf,” he said, referring to the golf term for a second-chance shot hit after a poor first one. Mr. Ryan was playing well, which he attributed to having a supply of beer in his cart.

“The more I drink, the better I play,” he said, taking a swig. He went on to prove it, sinking a four-footer for a par 4 on the fourth hole, to tie Mr. Echeverria and Mr. Palmgren, who runs the Harlem Golf Academy at Mosholu as well as drives a truck for The New York Post.

Playing behind them were Amir Loghmanieh and John Rice, who both work weekends as Van Cortlandt rangers. They were losing to Jose Del Pilar and Al Sannella from Mosholu, and by the eighth hole, Mr. Rice, a lighted cigarette dangling from his lips and a few golf tees wedged up under the brim of his Yankees cap, left his second shot short of the green, allowing the Mosholu pair to win the hole.

Mosholu won three matches to one in afternoon play, to take the Vanny Lu Cup.

Wayne Humanitzki and K.B. Singh, both rangers at Van Cortlandt, were beaten soundly in both morning and afternoon matches. And afterward, in the Mosholu clubhouse, Mr. Humanitzki, the Van Cortlandt captain, grumbled and pointed out that the Mosholu team had stocked its lineup with teaching professionals from the club’s youth programs.

Kevin Sheehan, an assistant general manager at Van Cortlandt, said he and his partner did not stand a chance against a Mosholu duo that included Todd Bordonaro a teaching pro at Mosholu and director of golf instruction for a youth program. Later, when Mr. DeSimone raffled off prizes, including a free lesson with Mr. Bordonaro, Mr. Sheehan quipped, “I just got a two-hour lesson from him on how not to play golf.”

“Don’t play him,” Mr. Sheehan added. “That’s the lesson.”

Mr. DeSimone said he hoped the annual matches would help to bring the two staffs closer together.

“Even though the two courses are next to each other, and we send golfers to each other all the time, you can’t get from one course to the other without getting in your car and driving the long way around,” said Mr. DeSimone, a retired engineer from Riverdale who is a golf coach.

He said he hoped that the clubs could eventually combine their teams and challenge the staffs from the city-owned Pelham-Split Rock Golf Course in the northeast Bronx.

“We’ll call it the Showdown in the Bronx,” he said.

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