Overbrook paged to host 34th Middle-Amateur Championship
The Golf Association of Philadelphia rings in the Major season when the 34th Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf visits Overbrook Golf Club May 24-25.
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Players ages 25 and over — 134, to be exact — will take to the Villanova, Pa. track for the two-day, 36-hole stroke play tournament. The low 70 among that collective, and ties, advance to the final round. The Middle-Amateur Championship is a William Hyndman, III Player of the Year points event.
“The course is in great shape,” Chris Lange, Jr., one of 10 Overbrook members in the field, said. “The greens are quick. It’s like the old-style Overbrook where you don’t want to be above the hole. It’s not a long course; it’s all about placement off the tee. One way for Overbrook to be challenging is for the greens to be fast. I think that’s what you’ll see.”
Overbrook previously hosted the Middle-Amateur two decades ago, when member Frank McFadden claimed the then one-day tournament with a score of 70 (The format changed to 36 holes in 2001). Other members to hoist the trophy include Oscar Mestre (2002), who serves as secretary on the Association’s Executive Committee, and Lange’s father Christopher, who is the only player in Middle-Amateur history to win consecutive titles (2005-06).
Saucon Valley Country Club’s Matthew Mattare enters the 2017 edition as defending champion. In 2016, the longtime GAP competitor defeated Michael R. Brown, Jr. and Matt Finger in a four-hole aggregate playoff at Waynesborough Country Club.
“Winning last year took a big monkey off of my back,” Mattare, 31, of Jersey City, N.J., said. “I felt like I had been knocking on the door for the better part of 10 years, so it definitely shed some weight. Winning your first major makes you hungrier for the second. Michael McDermott and Jeff Osberg have separated themselves in their Middle Amateur performances. There is a group of us that wants to get in that echelon and the way to do that is to keep piling up hardware.”
Mattare, medalist in the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, is pulling his chair up to that echelon’s table in 2017. He finished as runner-up in the New Jersey State Golf Association’s Mid-Amateur Championship earlier this month at Trump National Golf Club — Colts Neck. Mattare fell to fellow former GAP Middle-Amateur Champion Peter Barron, III (2014), 1-up.
“I have been playing really well out of the gates this season,” Mattare, who works in wealth management for Morgan Stanley, said. “The expectation is to keep that momentum going and use the good start as a springboard to bigger things this season. The GAP Majors are the most important tournaments and they are circled on my calendar. I am very much looking forward to the GAP Middle-Amateur and feel great about where my game stands moving forward.”
Likewise, Barron, 41, of Mays Landing, N.J., is riding a wave of momentum into Overbrook.
“My confidence is very high. Granted it’s a different format but it’s kind of the same principles where you’re just trying to hit fairways and greens, make pars and stay away from trouble,” Barron, a Stone Harbor Golf Club member, said. “I’ve been playing well over the past couple of weeks. I just hope it kind of snowballs and continues.”
Coincidentally, Mattare and Barron are paired together at Overbrook. The two, alongside Bidermann Golf Club’s William Jeremiah, the 2010 Middle-Amateur runner-up, will tee off at 12:15 p.m.
“I’ve gotten to know Matt over the past five, six years,” Barron said. “He’s a good guy who has a solid golf game. You can’t find a fault in any of it.”
Other former champions in the field include Merion Golf Club’s McDermott (2013, 2008, 2004, 2001), Philadelphia Cricket Club’s John Brennan (2012), Lu Lu Country Club’s Glenn Smeraglio (2011), Tavistock Country Club’s Thomas Gramigna (2010) and Brown (2009), also of Lu Lu.
As always, the public is welcome to attend. Aside from offering live scoring on its website, the Association will provide Middle-Amateur updates via Twitter. Follow @GAofPhilly and connect by using the hashtag #GAPMidAm. Watch live broadcasts via Periscope as well.
The inaugural Middle-Amateur Championship was held in 1984, three years after the United States Golf Association (USGA) created the U.S. Mid-Am as a formal championship for post-college amateurs. The Association followed suit with the USGA in creating a Mid-Am, but initially differed in its administration of the tournament in a couple of respects.
The most obvious difference was the age requirement. Prior to 2001, the GAP Middle-Amateur was for players 30 years of age and older.
The Association’s Executive Committee reviewed and revised that age requirement in 2001 to match the USGA's guidelines of 25 years of age or older for eligible players. Also at that point, the Committee changed the format of the event to a two-day stroke play tournament (instead of a one-day medal play event) with a cut to the low 70 players and ties after the first round. Players must have a GAP/USGA Handicap Index of 7.0 or lower.
For more information on the Middle-Amateur Championship, contact the GAP office at 610-687-2340.
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Golf Association of Philadelphia
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 153 Full Member Clubs and 57,000 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.