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Laughs and smiles at 10th Derby Day also serves a worthwhile cause

By Howard B. Owens
May 8, 2023, 8:30am
Laure Napoleone
Laurie Napoleone during the auction at Derby Day at Terry Hills, which benefits the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.
Photo by Howard Owens

It's doubtful the folks who gathered at Churchill Downs in Louisville had much more fun than the nearly 250 people who gathered at Terry Hills on Saturday for the 10th Annual Derby Day to benefit the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.

Before the big race, attendees socialized and participated in a fast-paced live auction led by Todd Jantzi from Bontrager's Auction House.

The bidding was quite competitive. For example, a four-night stay at Palm Harbor in Florida for up to 11 guests attracted a lot of attention.

Keith and Jill O'Neill, from Pendleton, were particularly excited to win the vacation package.  Keith said he wasn't sure how much it was worth, but he was sure it was a bargain at $4,000.

He beat out at least four other bidders.

"This is the first time I've ever done anything like that in my life," Keith said. "So I feel good. It is so worth it. The charity the money is going to, the money couldn't go to a better place."

It is a fun event, but also bittersweet, said Laurie Napoleone, whose son Michael would have turned 25 this year, possibly graduating from college, if not for the cancer, Burkitt’s Lymphoma/Leukemia, that claimed his life when he was eight years old in 2007.

"We wish we could have Michael back with us," Laurie said. "It was tragic and the worst thing that happened in my life, but people rallied around us, they came together to help us and supported us, and supported us financially, and out of that came the foundation so we could pay it forward."

The foundation has paid out more than $900,000 to families in circumstances similar to the Napoleones.

As fun, as Derby Day is every year, there is a moment of serious contemplation every year when one of the families assisted by the foundation tells their story. This year, Laurie said, it was the Waterman family from Middleport.

"We work hard to make this a great, fun event," Laurie said. "But the flip side is, we have to help out families with kids who are facing the challenge of cancer. Every year, we have somebody come and tell their story, and it's always hard to hear. It's emotional. It's heart-wrenching, but it's why we're here."

Keith O'Neill
Keith O'Neill bidding on the Palm Beach trip while his wife points to help ensure his bid is seen.
Photo by Howard Owens
Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation Todd Jantzi
Todd Jantzi, Bontrager's, acknowledging an opening bid.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Keith and Jill O'Neill, from Pendelton
A group of ladies trying to keep up with the bidding on the Palm Beach vacation package.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation
A competitive bidder glancing back at Keith O'Neill to see if he's going to bid again.
Photo by Howard Owens
Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation
And then she bids again.
Photo by Howard Owens
Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation Keith and Jill O'Neill
Keith and Jill O'Neill, from Pendleton, after placing the highest bid on the Palm Beach vacation.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.
Photo by Howard Owens


Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.
Photo by Howard Owens
Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.
Photo by Howard Owens
Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.
Photo by Howard Owens
Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation
Photo by Howard Owens


Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.
Photo by Howard Owens

Photos: 35th Annual Jim Kelly Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament

By Steve Ognibene
Aug 15, 2022, 11:24pm

Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, formerly of the Buffalo Bills, along with his teammates, past NFL football players, and local attendees from all over Western New York, played in the 35th annual Jim Kelly Celebrity Classic fundraiser Monday morning at Terry Hills golf course in Batavia.

Kelly thanked many sponsors, including volunteers, and "Dennis, Trisha and Ashley," who has been a core trio that has organized the event for the past 25 years. In his kickoff speech, Kelly emphasized "No Mulligans and five total hits," the prizes are serious, and the fun is like "Caddyshack."

Kelly for Kids Foundation raises millions of dollars and gives back to local charities, he said. The "reunion" tournament that many from all over the country come back to annually is what fans, family and friends of #BillsMafia look forward to, support, and have a great time participating in, they say.

"The main reason we came to Terry Hills to start with, is that they have 27 holes. We would have 10 to 12 foursomes on a waiting list that we had to turn away on an 18-hole golf course," Kelly said.  "They have built this place into a gorgeous facility, and they take unbelievable great care of us."

Pete Metzelaars

Eric Wood

Former GM Bill Polian

Christopher McDonald "Shooter McGavin"

Bruce Smith and Darryl Talley

(left) John Randle

Joe DeLamielleure

Edward Rutkowski

Bruce Smith at Jim Kelly's press conference

Fun in the sun for players in 27th Annual Genesee Cancer Assistance Golf Tournament

By Howard B. Owens
Jul 31, 2022, 3:21pm

It was a perfect day for 18 holes of golf yesterday at Terry Hills, which hosted the 27th Annual Genesee Cancer Assistance Golf Tournament.

Director Sue Underwood said the tournament last year raised $28,000 and this year they hoped to raise more than $30,000.

"We're hopeful we will be over 30, but we're thankful for whatever we make," she said.

The tournament is the non-profit's main fundraiser for the year. The funds are used to provide assistance to cancer patients.

This year 36 teams participated, and sponsorships increased from 52 a year ago to 62 this year.  There were more than 200 prizes, either door prizes or auction items, available to participants. 

Top photo: Ron Puccio stripes his ball down the middle of the fairway to get his tournament, and his team, off to a good start.  His team (next three photos) included Dan Voltura, Fred Hamilton, and Ed Priestley.

Photos by Howard Owens.

Bill Utter, in orange shirt, last year's 50-50 drawing winner, gets ready to draw the 2022 winner, while Sue Underwood and Chris Rumfola look on.

Photos: 2022 Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation Derby Day Gala

By Howard B. Owens
May 8, 2022, 8:00am

In August 2019, life in the Morgante family went from happy-go-lucky to something far more stressful.

Doctors found that Donato, at 13 months old, had cancer.  His little kidney had swollen, and it was essentially a single mass of diseased tissue.

The good news, if there was any, was that the cancer was stage one.  It hadn't spread to any other organs.  After six months of chemo, Donato was in remission and doctors estimate that he has a 91 percent chance of remaining in remission.

That news brought a round of applause from the more than 200 in attendance at the annual Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation Derby Day Gala Saturday at Terry Hills.

Along with the doctors, this was the foundation that gave the Donato family -- Joe and Jackie along with their other four children, Nina, Ryan, Vincent, and Coleman -- the most hope and the most support.

"They really got us through the most trying time of our lives," Joe said.

After Joe shared his family's experience, Laurie Napoleone presented Joe with a giant $2,000 check as a gift from the Foundation. Joe immediately said "We're donating it back."  Laurie wouldn't have it. "No," she said. "Go do something fun with your family.  Go on a vacation."  

Napoleone Foundation's Derby Gala returns to Terry Hills on May 7

By Press Release
Apr 4, 2022, 4:26pm

Press release:

The Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation is getting Back to the Races as they prepare for the 2022 Derby Day Gala. Due to the pandemic, this major fundraiser has been on hold for the past 2 years, but it is back and better than ever!!! 

The Kentucky- Derby-themed event includes an evening filled with big hats, colorful outfits, food, beverages, raffles and auctions all to support the mission of the foundation. In preparation for the event, the Foundation is reaching out for sponsorships, donations, and prizes.   

Tickets and table sponsorships can be obtained by calling 585-861-0550. More information can be found at Tickets include admission, food, wine, beer, a professional photo and a random ticket for the actual race. There will be a contest for the best hat, prizes for the most Dapper Derby male and Dapper Derby couple!  

The event will be held May 7 at Terry Hills Golf Course & Banquet Facility in Batavia from 4-9 p.m. 

The Michael Napoleone Foundation assists families facing the challenges of a childhood cancer diagnosis, provides grants for youth activities and programs and supports research efforts in the study of pediatric blood cancers. The Foundation was created in memory of Michael Napoleone, who passed away in 2006 after a battle with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. It was created to give back to those who assisted and pay it forward to those in need.  

Lend a Hand of Hope and come and support a great event for a greater cause! 

Photos: File photo by Howard Owens

Second Annual GO Art! Golfball Drop

By James Burns
Oct 19, 2021, 2:10pm

GO Art! Of Genesee and Orleans Counties held the 2nd annual Golf Ball drop at Terry Hills Golf Course and Banquet Facility on Tuesday morning. The event had been delayed by weather. Event sponsor Zeliff Aviation dropped a few thousand golf balls on a beautiful fall day over the course. Jerianne Bruce was the grand prize winner of $2,000 and Dave Beatty and Mathew Johnson were runners-up winning prizes donated by Terry Hills. 

Photos: Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Classic at Terry Hills

By James Burns
Aug 27, 2021, 11:40am

Willie "Hutch" Jones

On Monday, Terry Hills Golf Course hosted the annual Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Classic, a year after it had to be canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.  

Jim Kelly was unable to attend this year due to an injury.

Photos by Jim Burns.

Kato Kaelin

Fred Smerlas

Ed Rutkowski

Roger Goodell

Darryl Talley and Bruce Smith

Eric Wood

Warren Sapp

Daniel Baldwin

Team Terry Hills

Chris Berman

Terry Hills announces hospitality promotions

By Billie Owens
Jun 24, 2020, 3:49pm

Submitted photos and press release:

Terry Hills Golf Course, Restaurant and Banquet Facility has promoted Danielle Rotondo (top photo) to General Manager and Chris DeVay to Restaurant and Banquet Manager (left, bottom photo). Amanda ("Mandy") Narburgh (right, bottom photo) has rejoined the team as Assistant Restaurant and Banquet Manager.

In her new role, Rotondo will be responsible for overseeing daily operations of the golf course, restaurant and banquet facility. In her former position as Restaurant and Banquet Manager, she was instrumental in positioning Terry Hills to become one of the premier locations for weddings and events. She is also the on-site wedding specialist, assisting brides through the entire process and making sure their special day goes smoothly.

She is the perfect fit for General Manager.

Rotondo has more than 20 years experience in the golf course and restaurant industry. She earned her business degree in Golf Club Management from SUNY Delhi and is a 2008 graduate of Leadership Genesee. She is a member of both the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.

DeVay, now filling the Restaurant and Banquet Manager position, was the Assistant Restaurant and Banquet Manager and is making a smooth transition to Rotondo's former role. He is a graduate of Genesee Community College and has almost 25 years of experience in the restaurant business.

With his hands-on experience, skill set and attention to detail, DeVay is an excellent choice to expertly execute daily operations of the restaurant and banquet facility.

Narburgh has rejoined the Terry Hills team, filling the Assistant Restaurant and Banquet Manager position. She had previously worked at Terry Hills as a Server and Floor Manager. She has 15 years of restaurant experience, specializing in front of the house operations. She is a great addition to the management team and she strives to make every guest’s visit a memorable one.

Terry Hills, located at 5122 Clinton Street Road in Batavia, has been family owned and operated since 1972 and recognizes the importance of personalized service, attention to detail, and professionalism.

They have fully integrated these beliefs into their operating strategies and overall philosophy on how they do business. They are the perfect midpoint location between Buffalo and Rochester, located in the Town of Batavia.

Video: Sights and sounds at the Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Classic

By Howard B. Owens
Jun 4, 2019, 9:14am


Video Sponsor


Terry Hills hosted the 33rd Annual Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Classic.  

Featured in the video, QB Josh Allen, Jim Kelly, Chris Berman, Thruman Thomas, Eric Wood, and Commissioner Roger Goodell, who makes it clear, if Buffalo taxpayers want to keep the Bills, they're going to need to pony up for a new stadium.

New chef at Terry Hills sets out to take what's good and make it better

By Howard B. Owens
Oct 29, 2018, 6:36pm

Let's talk about French fries.

The lowly fry. Can you really kick it up a notch?

Cooking a gourmet fry is actually no secret. Any competent chef can do it. But it's a lot of work.

The new chef at Terry Hills, John Steward, is ready to do the work.

It's a four-day process that consists of blanching, drying, blanching again, more drying, freezing and then frying.

The result is a fry that has a veneer of crunch and a soft, fluffy center, like a perfectly cooked baked potato or a mouthful of savory clouds.

We told Steward we were going to write about his fries and that some people might find that odd. He agreed.

"People will be like 'oh, this guy doesn't know what he's talking about, talking about good French fries,' " Steward said. "A fry is a fry, you know. But at the same time, people feel like, 'oh, why is this fry so good? What's so different?' And that's what we need right now. We need people talking about Terry Hills. So many times I hear that people forget that Terry Hills is a restaurant."

A native of Rochester, Steward, is a new father, current resident of Le Roy and the former sous chef at Farmer's Creekside Tavern & Inn.

Terry Hills isn't his first head chef's job, but it may be his most important. It's a chance, he said, not only to take Terry Hills to the next level but also to better establish his name and provide his staff with the training necessary to help advance their careers. Those are his goals.

They're ambitious for a guy who a little over six years ago started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher and quickly moved through his first kitchen, entirely self taught, to be ready to run a kitchen himself a few years later -- La Luna, in Rochester.

"Yeah, I never went to a culinary college or school," Steward said. "Everything I've learned, I've learned on the job. I've done a lot of research on my own, watched a lot of shows, read a lot. When I first started, I would go to the public market and buy a bag full of potatoes and  sit in my apartment working on knife cuts."

Danielle Rotondo, VP, and co-owner of Terry Hills, said Steward was just what management was looking for -- young and ambitious and eager to take the dining experience for lunch, dinners, and banquets to the next level. He came out on top after three rounds of interviews and several reference checks.

"We want to grow; we want to do more; we want to show Batavia that we're not just a golf course," Rotondo said. "You know we have our golf course, our restaurant, our banquet facility, we have all of that here, and, yes, we want to show that there are some different things out here and there are different ways to do it. Yes, it's Batavia, but we can also go on the edge a little bit and try something else."

To show off how Terry Hills will take it to the next level, a couple of weeks ago the restaurant hosted a chef's menu night for a few dozens guests both to introduce some new dishes and as a kind of soft opening on how things are changing.

It was at that chef's menu night that we tried those crisp, fluffy fries. But Steward also introduced diners to his gnocchi carbonara, like everything that night, made from scratch, consisting of hand-rolled, house-made ricotta in a rich and thick carbonara sauce with diced ham and peas.

Steward also served a dry-aged strip steak, a pan-seared salmon, chicken roulade, to go along with a wedge salad, a Caesar salad, and a grain medley.

Many of these dishes -- particularly, say, the fries and the gnocchi -- take substantial prep time but Steward said there's no reason he and his line staff aren't up to the demands of the extra effort.

"As you're organized, you always have lists going; then it should be executable," Steward said. "There's no reason why it shouldn't be executable."

Steward said what makes a good dining experience is fresh ingredients, scratch cooking, and service. It's his job to oversee all aspects of a guest's experience at Terry Hills now, and he plans to pay attention to those details.

"Even if I go to a diner, or if I go to a finer place, you can see if the food is taken care of, if people care about quality," Steward said. "I think that is what makes a good meal -- making sure you use fresh ingredients, you use the proper techniques, execute the proper techniques. Your execution is what makes a good meal."

He said he expects the care of the kitchen staff to be carried out into the dining room by the servers.

"Nothing frustrates me more when I go to a place, and I ask a server a question about the menu, and the server is like, 'I don't know,' Steward said. "You should, you should. To me, I feel like it's your job to know the menu to know what the chef is trying to cook.

"There's going to be time and money invested to ensure our staff is trained properly."

The one thing Steward didn't change for the night was Terry Hill's famous seafood bisque.

"The only thing I might change is the garnish and change the saltines to oyster crackers," Steward said. "I think a seafood bisque should have oyster crackers."

While upgrading the sit-down lunch and dinner menus for Terry Hills is high on the agenda, Steward said he also plans to revamp the banquet service.

"I'm not knocking the former chefs here, but some of these recipes are outdated," Steward said, "by like 25 years."

That doesn't necessarily mean there will be big changes in menu choices. He already considers Terry Hills the premier banquet facility in Batavia. He thinks a few changes to how things are done will make it even better.

"I understand that like I can completely get everything off the menu," Steward said. "But, again, some of the techniques we're using here again are outdated. No one uses them anymore so. Therefore, we need to update our techniques to make a better product. The quality of the product will improve but still essentially be the same, they will have the same ingredients, but it's just going to be a better product overall because it's done better."

Steward said the chef's that inspire him include: Massimo Bottura, owner of Osteria Francescana in Italy, now ranked the #1 restaurant in the world (Bottura was the subject of the first episode of Chef's Table on Netflix); Thomas Keller, a chef and restauranteur in California; and, Wylie Dufresne, a chef in Manhattan.

"I pride myself working hard, putting in the hours," Steward said. "I think anyone who does that is going to do well in any field."

Steward thinks he can take what he's learned on his own and use that knowledge to help make his line cooks better. He would like to be known as a chef who helps his staff advance their careers.

"I really want to make really good food," Steward said. "In that process, I want to teach the guys that are here, too. As I said from day one, my goal is for you guys, whenever your time is up here, is to walk into any kitchen (and) be the best cook that walks in that kitchen because you've got trained by me."

Photo: Judge Balbick shares sunrise picture

By Howard B. Owens
Sep 18, 2018, 9:16pm

Batavia City Court Judge Robert Balbick saw the photo we shared this morning from yesterday's sunrise as seen at DeWitt Recreation Area and wanted to share the picture he took about the same time at Terry Hills Golf Course.

Photos: 2018 Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Classic at Terry Hills

By Howard B. Owens
Jun 4, 2018, 3:33pm

Today, Terry Hills hosted the annual Jim Kelly Golf Celebrity Classic, a fundraiser created by the Buffalo Bills great to help support several children's' charities in Western New York.

Above Dean Cain, who played for the Buffalo Bills for a short time before launching an acting career that has included a role as Superman, talks with his golf partners for the tournament.

Dean Cain on the tee.

Willie Hutch Jones with fans. Jones played for the San Diego Clippers in the early 80s. He's originally from Buffalo and for the past 30 years has been director of the Willie Hutch Jones Educational & Sports Programs in Buffalo. The program's mission: "... to provide every child, at no cost, equal opportunities to engage in the highest quality program and to offer character building activities through academics, sports, and the arts."

Thurman Thomas

Thurman Thomas with his golf partners.

Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, former Dallas Cowboys receiver, signs a Buffalo Bills cap for Luke Gutman.

LPGA professional golfer Cindy Miller.

Danielle Rotondo with actor Dennis Haskins.

Local golfers T.J. Woodward, Ray Tortorice, Tim Woodword, and Matt Meyer, with former Bills player Ed Rutkowski (center).

Danielle Rotondo with ESPN's broadcasting legend Chris Berman.

Chris Berman.


Jim Kelly cuts ribbon on new Terry Hills 14th green bridge

By Howard B. Owens
Jun 4, 2018, 3:12pm

When Terry Hills Golf Course built the 14th hold more than 30 years ago, the green, on one of the course's signature holes, was mostly surrounded by water. To provide a bridge to the green, two telephone polls were placed across the water.

In the three decades that passed, the weather did its work on the wood, so last summer the bridge was removed.

This year a new bridge was installed, and with Jim Kelly on hand to cut the ribbon, it was officially opened.

Top photo: Mary Brown, Casey Brown, Danielle Rotondo, Jessica Ecock-Rotondo, Ellen Simkulet and Nick Rotondo.

Below, two photos provided by Terry Hills. First, Tom Brown walking across the telephone polls when first placed over the water. Second, Casey Brown walking across the first beam placed for the new bridge.

Photos: CASA's Casino Night at Terry Hills

By Howard B. Owens
Apr 20, 2018, 11:12pm

Genesee County's CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) hosted a casino night fundraiser at Terry Hills this evening. The advocacy program provides legal assistance to children in the court system due to neglect or abuse.

The event was sold out.

Sponsored Post: Miniature Golf opens at Terry Hills on Friday, June 16th

By Lisa Ace
Jun 14, 2017, 3:00pm

Summer is here. Mini Golf is, too. Terry Hills Miniature Golf Course opens Friday, June 16th! Excitement for all ages as you putt your way over ramps, bridges, dips & other fun obstacles in pursuit of those Hole-In-Ones! Bring Dad this Father’s Day and he plays for FREE (and if you let him win, that’s OK, too).

Make it a day and stop into the restaurant before or after you play for a delicious lunch, dinner or Sunday Brunch! Click here for our menus (Restaurant Hours: Mon-Fri 11-9, Sunday Brunch 10-2). Terry Hills is located at 5122 Clinton Street Road, Route 33, Batavia, NY. (585) 343-0642

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