|Matthew Finger will make his first Compher Cup appearance as a Team GAP member.|
*Team GAP roster
*Individual player records
Compher Cup heads to Aronimink Golf Club April 30
The Golf Association of Philadelphia eyes a return to the victory path when it competes in the 53rd Compher Cup, set for April 30 at Aronimink Golf Club.
It fell to the New Jersey State Golf Association, 10.5-7.5, a year ago at Galloway National Golf Club, breaking a three-year GAP winning streak. The following players will represent the GAP team this year: Joe April, Philadelphia Cricket Club; Christopher Ault, Yardley Country Club; Cole Berman, Philadelphia Cricket; John Brennan, Philadelphia Cricket; Michael R. Brown, Philadelphia Publinks GA; Matthew Finger, DuPont Country Club; Michael Hyland, Little Mill Country Club; Michael Kania, Overbrook Golf Club; Michael McDermott, Merion Golf Club; Jeff Osberg, Huntingdon Valley Country Club; Glenn Smeraglio, Mercer Oaks Golf Course and Conrad Von Borsig of White Manor Country Club.
Smeraglio is the veteran among that group and — appropriately so — will serve as captain. He will make his sixth straight Compher Cup appearance and 13th overall.
“It’s always a goal at the beginning of the year to play well consistently thru the year so you can have these opportunities,” Smeraglio, 54, of Newtown, Pa. said. “You’ve earned your way. You’ve had a decent year the year before if you made it to the Compher Cup team. I’m very fortunate that the roster is so strong.”
That strong line-up includes McDermott, the Association’s reigning Middle-Amateur and Amateur Champion. He won the latter last year at Aronimink. Kania and Von Borsig finished as semifinalists in the event. And half of the GAP roster qualified for match play.
“Without sounding too confident, of course every captain and every person on the team wants to win. I want to win,” Smeraglio said. “I don’t think there’s a major home field advantage. It’s such a high quality venue that it brings out the best in mostly everybody. New Jersey is very strong, so it should be a good battle.”
Berman is one of the players who earned a match play berth a year ago. The reigning GAP Junior Player of the Year is excited to compete in his first Compher Cup.
“I know Juniors are typically not selected, so it was a great surprise,” Berman, 18, of Rosemont, Pa., said. “It shouldn’t be anything out of my comfort zone. Aronimink should be a great test. I’m looking forward to it.”
Berman is slated to play alongside Kania in the Compher Cup. The two also joined forces in last year’s Mason-Dixon Matches, earning three points in the singles and four-ball portions, respectively.
“He’s been one of my role models since we’re both Haverford School guys,” Berman said. “I grew up caddying for him when he was on the high school team. It’s cool to be able to play with him instead of watch him.”
Also making his Compher debut — sort of — is Finger. He represented the New Jersey team at Galloway, but will don the GAP uniform for this year’s affair.
“It is a little strange, but I’m friendly and friends with most, if not everybody, on the team, and we all have a great time together,” Finger, 36, of Woolwich Township, N.J., said. “I don’t think there will be any bad blood.”
Like most Compher Cup competitors, Finger considers his game a “work-in-progress,” thanks in large part to a grueling winter that limited practice and playing time. He looks forward to contributing to the GAP score sheets at Aronimink.
“I’m hoping I can represent the organization well,” Finger said. “Of all of the strong players in the region, to be selected as one of the 12 [to represent GAP] is a great honor.”
The Golf Association of Philadelphia leads the series, 34–13–4. The Compher Cup Matches started, but were rained out, in 2005.
In the Compher Cup, each association fields a 12-man team. Players simultaneously compete in a singles match and four-ball match. A total of 18 points is available. Matches that end in a tie result in a half point for the team.
Fred Compher, a former New Jersey State Golf Association president, conceived the neighborhood matches after leaving his post in 1959. Compher donated a silver trophy that year earmarked for such a rivalry.
In 1961, association representatives Bob Jacobson of New Jersey and Richard Ollmah of GAP completed the details. In 1962, the first Compher Cup matches took place. That year, the NJSGA side forged a 5–1 lead in the morning foursomes’ competitions and held serve in the afternoon singles matches for an 11.5-6.5 victory.
After the New Jersey victory, Compher, who was known at the time as the most successful NJSGA president in its history, presented the trophy “to promote golf between the groups.”
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 150 Member Clubs and 55,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.