Philling the GAP is a monthly series highlighting the many services the Association provides to its members – some you may be well aware of, some you may not. This monthly space presents an in-depth look at everything the Golf Association of Philadelphia offers.|
That chill in the air shouldn't scare you from teeing it up. The Golf Association of Philadelphia's Winter Series offers members a chance to keep their game fresh during the typically quiet, “offseason” months. Two slates — branded fall and spring for distinguishing purposes — included four to six events, most of which feature a net stableford scoring format. A Player of the Year competition across four categories (Amateur Gross, Senior Gross, Amateur Net, Senior Net) adds to the participation incentive.
Facts & Figures
- The Winter Series started in 2008.
- Each Winter Series event features a shotgun start.
- Greg Smith, a Radley Run Country Club member, won the Amateur Net Player of the Year Award in four consecutive years (2012-15).
- Saint Annes Club (now known as Back Creek Golf Club) hosted the first Winter Series event on March 6, 2008. It featured professional and pro-am divisions.
- To date, 49 GAP Member Clubs have hosted a Winter Series event. Four of those clubs — Bala, Back Creek, Blue Bell and Whitford — have done so on three occasions.
The J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust reflects the philanthropic passion of its namesake.
A revered champion and Golf Association of Philadelphia Hall of Famer, J. Wood Platt carried a compassion for the caddie. Hoping to “give them all a chance,” he conceived a program that fostered club contributions to a singular scholarship fund.
The Trust, with Platt as a co-founder, first contributor and visionary, came to life in 1958. With assistance from colleagues Walter Schmidt, Robert Dunlop and Herman Benninghoff, Platt and the program financially supported its first Caddie-Scholar, Owen Doyle of Ashbourne Country Club, in the form of a $1,500 grant. Doyle attended Notre Dame in 1958 and graduated in 1962 with a degree in electrical engineering. He is one of 3,450 young men and women in the Trust's list of scholarship recipients to date.
The Trust's mission, constant since inception, is to financially aid deserving caddies in their pursuit of higher education. Since its inception, the Platt has issued $20 million in aid, and 191 caddies will receive more than $1.15 million during the 2016-17 academic year. Award amounts range from $1,000 to $10,000 per academic year for undergraduates and graduate students.
Facts & Figures
- The average award granted by the Trust is $7,680.
- First Caddie-Scholar, Owen Doyle of Ashborne Country Club, attended Notre Dame in 1958 and graduated in 1962.
- The average GPA of the Caddie-Scholars is 3.20.
- There are currently 383 Lifetime Contributors to the Trust. In addition, 1,957 members belong to the Par Club as of the conclusion of last year.
- As of 2015, a total of 43 GAP Member Clubs currently have Caddie-Scholars. Eighty-seven colleges are home to Caddie Scholars.
The Golf Association of Philadelphia's reach extends beyond the course. It offers seminars and meetings that cater to both Members and Member Clubs throughout the year. Officials can learn more about key issues and topics affecting the golf industry by attending the Presidents' Council in March or the Pro.-President, Golf & Green in May. Work in a grounds department or serve on a greens committee? The Association's Environmental Conference may be of interest as it brings sustainability to the forefront. High school students can ease their collegiate queries by checking out the biannual College Golf Seminar, which aims to educate on golf at the next level. And for those with golf tags of any kind, the Club Rules Seminar provides a continuing education of the Rules of Golf. Oh, and morning refreshments and lunch.
Facts & Figures
- Breakfast Seminars are conducted periodically to offer Member Club officials the opportunity to network and exchange ideas on timely issues affecting the industry.
- More than 100 GAP Member Club presidents, general managers and club officials attend the Presidents' Council annually.
- The Pro.-President, Golf & Green marks the unofficial introduction of the Association's tournament season. It includes lunch, golf and dinner with a featured speaker.
- The Association conducted its first President Council in 2005. Featured speakers that year included Gary Hamilton, Steve Graves and Tom Walker.
- Former LPGA Tour player and current ESPN Golf Analyst Dottie Pepper spoke during the Presidents' Council in 2014.
- Starting in 2014, the Association began presenting its Distinguished Service Award during the Pro.-President, Golf & Green.
- Andy North served as the featured speaker during the Pro.-President, Golf & Green in 2006 at Spring Ford Country Club.
- Club Rules Seminar attendees receive a complimentary copy of the latest Decisions Book issued by the USGA.
Volunteers, in a sense, operate as the Golf Association of Philadelphia's backbone. Without their support, the organization couldn't provide industry-leading service to its Members and Member Clubs. More than 150 individuals dedicate time to assisting with tournament administration by serving as checkpoint scorers, starters or rules officials. Another 45 lend a hand with course rating, representing teams that travel to 25-35 Member Clubs annually. The Association fulfills its mission — to preserve, protect and promote the game of golf — thanks to the dedication, congeniality and commitment of its volunteer base.
Facts & Figures
- As a way of saying thanks, the Association conducts Volunteers Day annually. The event features lunch, golf and dinner for those who serve the organization that offseason.
- Carl Berlinger and David Junkin, M.D. are the longest-serving volunteers. They started with GAP in 1983.
- The Association awards a Volunteer of the Year in recognition of an individual who demonstrates a passion for golf and has made contributions above and beyond the norm.
- Before each tournament season begins, the Association offers a series of Volunteer Training Days. Each covers changes for the upcoming season, the Rules of Golf, pace of play and more.
- Volunteers who serve as scorecard checkpoint officials use electronic tablets to input a player's score, a key component in the Association's live scoring system.
- During each GAP tournament, volunteers and staff members on site stay in constant contact to ensure effective administration.
- In addition to starting, scorecard checking, pace of play monitoring and Rules of Golf coverage, volunteers also spot golf balls for players during GAP tournaments.
- Indian Valley Country Club and Sandy Run Country Club currently field the most GAP volunteers with 12 each.
Being old never gets old. Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia is the oldest local or regional association of its kind. With four distinguished facilities in Aronimink Golf Club, Merion Cricket Club, Philadelphia Country Club and Philadelphia Cricket Club within its roots, the Association features 153 Full Member Clubs spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Its mission, which they chose to accept — to preserve, protect and promote the game of golf. Preservation in the ongoing historical documentation of all GAP events, services and activities. Protection in upholding the game's integrity throughout each passing season. Promotion in event coverage and technological touch. The Golf Association of Philadelphia is your association.
Facts & Figures
- The earliest form of the BMW GAP Team Matches — a match between Devon Golf Club and Philadelphia Cricket Club — served as the Golf Association of Philadelphia's genesis.
- Seven gentlemen — George D. Fowle, Rodman E. Griscom, Samuel Y. Heebner, Isaac T. Staarr, Walter E. Stephenson, Dr. Henry Toulmin and Milton C. Work — met on Feb. 5, 1897 to form the Association.
- George D. Fowle, a Philadelphia Country Club member, was elected to serve as the Association's first president.
- The late James W. Finegan, in his book “A Centennial Tribute to GOLF in Philadelphia,” documented the Association's rich history.
Ever argue with one of your buddies over whose golf course is harder to play? That type of discussion typically involves course rating, one of the many services provided by the Golf Association of Philadelphia. Five volunteer teams rate every Member course on a seven-year rotation, as well as any other area course requesting service. The Association's staff, in turn, then reviews each rating to make sure that criteria is consistently being applied. This helps to create an equitable playing field for all golfers. Once a golf course is rated, scores can then be posted for handicap purposes. The Association rates 25-35 courses annually. It may not seem like it at first glance, but course rating plays an integral role in your GAP membership.
Facts & Figures
- In April 1983, the Association conducted its first course rating meeting at Gulph Mills Golf Club.
- In 2015, GAP course rating volunteers rated 29 golf courses totaling 513 holes.
- Huntingdon Valley Country Club (Flynn/Centennial) holds the highest men's course rating (76.4) of GAP Member Clubs.
- Manufacturers Golf & Country Club (Upper) holds the highest women's course rating (78.9) of GAP Member Clubs.
- A course rating is based on what a scratch golfer should shoot on that course, while the slope rating is an indicator of the difficulty of the course for a bogey golfer.
- Phoenixville Country Club was the first course to undergo an official GAP measuring. Executive Director James D. Sykes, along with Tournament Director J. Fred Christman and his two sons, performed such a task in 1983.
- Course raters take GPS measurements of the golf course and chart various obstacle values on each hole. Those include topography, recoverability and rough, bunkers, water hazards and green surface, and more.
- Raters evaluate the golf course for two types of golfer: scratch and bogey. The scratch golfer hits it 250 yards off the tee (230 of which are in the air). The bogey golfer hits it 200 yards off the tee (180 in the air). Each subsequent shot for the scratch golfer travels 200 yards (180 of which are in the air) and the bogey golfer hits it 170 yards (150 in the air).
How does having availability to play the region's finest courses sound? Too good to be true? It's not! Thanks to Member Play Days, all Golf Association of Philadelphia members can experience layouts throughout the Delaware Valley in a relaxed, enjoyable environment. These events are open to all (amateur) members (male/female/Juniors age 14 and older) with a valid GAP/USGA handicap index. Nervous about setting foot in a tournament setting? Fret not. Member Play Days use a net Stableford scoring system. That means once you have met your net limit, you can pick up, so there is no pressure to complete every hole. Grab a few buddies and see the Philadelphia golf sights.
Facts & Figures
- To bring its “play more golf” vision forward, the Association launched Member Play Days in 2010. Twenty-six courses hosted events that year.
- Eleven facilities — from the Jersey Shore to Schuylkill County and everywhere in between — will host Member Play Day events in 2016.
- White Manor Country Club has hosted the most Member Play Day events (five). Laurel Creek Country Club and The Ridge at Back Brook rank second with four.
- Due to a high demand in entries for Member Play Days, the Association adopted a lottery system in 2013 to determine event participants.
- Forty-five Golf Association of Philadelphia Member Clubs have hosted a Member Play Day event.
You know by now — at least we trust you do — that the Golf Association of Philadelphia conducts tournaments. Seventy to be exact, give or take a few each year. Events for all ages (see the Senior Amateur Championship and Junior-Junior Boys' Championship) and ability levels (take the stage, BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship and Tee It Forward events). But the Association's tournament department operates beyond administering competitive platforms.
Course set-up is part of the equation. Staff members mark hazards, determine hole locations and course length for play in advance and will share their expertise with any Member Club wishing to listen. Education is paramount. The tournament department offers an annual Rules of Golf seminar, course marking and set-up instruction and volunteer training. It's more than meets the tee. Or tent. Or table. You get the idea.
Facts & Figures
- When composing the season's schedule, the tournament department relies on GAP Member Clubs for assistance in offering host services. The Association respectfully requests a club to serve as a host site once every two years.
- Dotting tees, marking hazards and setting tee positions are just a few of tasks executed during a course set-up.
- Aside from GAP specific events, the tournament department administers six to eight USGA qualifying events annually.
- The tournament department conducts an annual Club Rules Seminar, which provides continuing education of the Rules of Golf.
- Registration for all GAP tournaments is exclusively available online via the Association's Web site, www.gapgolf.org.
- Need to know more about course marking? The tournament department is here to help. Call the Golf Office to set up a session.
- The tournament department is in-tents. It sets each one for starting and scoring purposes.
- The tournament department relies on the help of volunteers to successfully administer GAP events.
- When composing the season's schedule, the tournament department relies on GAP Member Clubs for assistance in offering host services.
A putt-putt adventure may spark your child's interest in golf. Once that fire's lit, let the Golf Association Philadelphia add fuel through its Junior golf opportunities. It offers events specifically catering to boys and girls 18 years of age (who have yet to begin their college education) or younger.
Start with the Pre-Junior Event, which includes a rules and etiquette session followed by six holes of golf for youngsters ages 8-10. Throw in the Junior-Junior Boys' Championship, a match play competition for those 10-13 years of age, and top it off with an array of tournaments for both boys and girls. When you choose to explore Junior golf, the Association is here to help.
Facts & Figures
- The Association's Junior outreach formally began in 1914 with the introduction of its Junior Boys' Championship.
- The Association conducts a College Golf Seminar in alternating years for high school student athletes pursuing golf at the collegiate level.
- In partnership with the Philadelphia PGA Section, the Association developed a Golf in Schools program in 2014 to introduce the game in physical education classes throughout the region.
- The Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine highlighted Junior golf in its Spring 2014 issue.
- The Association participates in the annual Williamson Cup, one of nation's most prominent Junior golf events. It fields one of 11 teams from state and regional golf associations.
- To open the door to all Junior golfers, the Association created the GAP Junior Players Club. Golfers 18 years of age or younger can gain tournament access, among other perks, for a $50 fee.
- The Association, in conjunction with the USGA, offers a PLAY Golf program to assist community efforts in expanding access to golf for urban youth.
One of the essential services the GAP offers to its members is handicapping — a vital piece to keeping the game fair, just and fun for golfers of all skill levels. Since its inception in 1912, the USGA Handicap System has made it possible for golfers of differing abilities to do just that. More than 2.3 million golfers from approximately 14,000 clubs across the country have handicaps provided by the USGA's GHIN (Golf Handicap & Information Network) service, including 187 GAP Member Clubs.
Another important feature of GAP's Handicap Service is golfer inquiries. A GAP/GHIN club may obtain handicap information about any of the nearly 2.3 million golfers on the GHIN system. Verifying handicaps for member-guest and invitation tournaments is right at your fingertips.
GAP/GHIN users are able to post their scores on the GAP App or via the Internet at www.ghin.com or www.gapgolf.org.
In addition to the handicapping services provided, the Golf Association of Philadelphia is proud to offer access to the TrackMan Swing and Ball Flight Analysis system to its membership. TrackMan is the standard for equipment makers, PGA Tour professionals and the sport's governing bodies, the USGA and the R&A.
Facts & Figures
- April 1-Oct. 31: the posting season for the Philadelphia region.
- In 2007, the Association, after analyzing 15 years of data, implemented the Knuth Tournament Point System. This system is used for all net competitions, individual and team, with more than 50 competitors.
- Did you know? Forty-two percent of scores posted in 2015 were through the GAP App or online (GAP/GHIN).
- Once a player posts five 18-hole scores, a Handicap Index is generated. Eventually a player's 10 lowest 10 of 20 scores are counted.
- Revisions are on the 1st and 15th of each month.
- A score is acceptable is a golfer has played at least seven holes for a 9-hole score, or 13 holes played for an 18-hole score. Any unplayed holes are posted as par plus any handicap strokes for that hole.
- GAP members can sign up to receive revisions electronically through email.
- Ways to post: Handicap computer at club, or on-line at gapgolf.org, GAP App, ghin.com.
Nothing says golf season is here like the BMW GAP Team Matches. The longest-running Interclub concoction of its kind, the BMW GAP Team Matches showcases competition and camaraderie in a team environment. Members of full Member Clubs represent their facility on three Sundays in April and enjoy different courses throughout the Philadelphia region. The relationship and memories that follow are unparalleled. The BMW GAP Team Matches features teams of 12 players, with six competing at home and six on the road. Participants engage in a singles match and four-ball match concurrently.
Facts & Figures
- On Oct. 15, 1896, a team representing Philadelphia Cricket Club traveled to Devon Golf Club for a match. The occurrence served as the genesis for the BMW GAP Team Matches.
- The BMW GAP Team Matches underwent three name changes. It began in 1897 as the Interclub Team Matches, became the Suburban League Matches in 1915 and then the GAP Team Matches in 1997.
- Huntingdon Valley Country Club holds the most BMW GAP Team Matches titles with 32.
- BMW became a presenting sponsor in 2015.
- The BMW GAP Team Matches wasn't contested in 1943-45 (World War II) and 1994 (severe winter weather).
- In 2015, a total of 332 teams from 138 Member Clubs participated in the BMW GAP Team Matches.
- Division AA is the top tier in the BMW GAP Team Matches. There are seven divisions overall.
- Philadelphia Cricket Club, one of the Association's founding Member Clubs, won its first BMW GAP Team Matches title in 2013.
- The BMW GAP Team Matches Playoff determines the event's overall champion.
- The BMW GAP Team Matches is 116 years old.
Staying ahead of the technological curve is always a Golf Association of Philadelphia priority, especially when it comes to the organization's Web site and mobile app. The Association's Web site, www.gapgolf.org, offers a one-stop portal for organizational news, Member Club information, tournament registrations, J. Wood Platt Caddie-Scholarship donations and much more. A main function of the Web site is the My GAP Locker portal, located in the top right of the home screen. My GAP Locker offers all registered users a snapshot of their respective interactions with the organization, from the most current handicap eRevision to the status of their complimentary magazine subscriptions to recent tournament registrations and even a contributions record of donations to the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust.
Both the Web site and GAP App offer users the most popular features: live scoring from ALL Golf Association of Philadelphia tournaments; instant tracking of the BMW GAP Team Matches results and the ability to post a score in a few clicks to one's handicap record.
The GAP App can be downloaded for free on any iPhone or Android device. Other GAP App features include the ability to view one's handicap score history; to calculate the course handicap for any set of tees and to find contact information and directions to all Member Clubs. Download the GAP App by searching for “gapgolf” in Google Play or the App Store.
Facts & Figures
- GAP members posted a total of 1,224,323 scores to the GHIN system in 2015.
- The Association's Web site, www.gapgolf.org, was viewed more than 4.9 million times in 2015.
- There are three convenient and easy ways to post a score for handicap purposes through the Golf Association of Philadelphia. (1) At your club's posting computer; (2) at www.gapgolf.org; and, perhaps the easiest way, (3) on the GAP App. under Post Score. All take less than 20 seconds.
- Tracking a friend or family member in a Golf Association of Philadelphia tournament? It's easy to do so. Live scoring is available both online and on the GAP App for all competitions.
- Entering its fifth season, the GAP App has been downloaded 10K times: 80-percent by Apple users; 20-percent by Android users. Last season, 330,000 scores for handicap purposes were posted on the GAP App.
The Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine has been a staple of the Association the past nine years. Published four-times annually, it serves as Philadelphia's Most Trusted Source of Golf Information. Content revolves around all things GAP, from Member Club profiles to tournament coverage to a Rules of Golf section. Each issue contains a focal topic (eg. Handicapping; Junior Golf; Pace of Play; etc.) surrounded by accompanying pieces. A subscription to the Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine is complimentary for all Members. Log-in to your My GAP Locker and click on the subscriptions tab to take advantage. As an added bonus, Members can elect to receive a complimentary subscription to Golf Digest. Again, log-in to your My GAP Locker and click on the subscriptions tab.
Facts & Figures
- The first issue of the Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine was published in July/August 2007 and featured Merion Golf Club on the cover. It was an eight-page booklet with five articles.
- The Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
- The Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine printed a special U.S. Open Issue in 2013 as a prelude to the Championship. That issue was recognized by the IAGA with a Gold Tee Award. It chronicled Merion's USGA history and previewed the celebrated affair.
- The current print run of the Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine is 34,500 per issue.
- Each printed issue is available on-line with clickable pages and links. Visit the Golf Association of Philadelphia Web site, www.gapgolf.org, for a complete Magazine library.
- Miss a Golf Association of Philadelphia tournament result? View the back pages of each issue for complete coverage. It's the only place where the results of ALL GAP tournaments are printed.
- The Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine has been printed 35 total times.