119th #GAPOpen Round One Notebook - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Jul 19, 2023

119th #GAPOpen Round One Notebook

Palazzolo, Meisenzahl find success in different ways

BUCKINGHAM, Pa. – Vince Palazzolo’s golf experiences went from zero to 100 and then back to zero.

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A torrid stretch of golf as a Junior and collegiate emptied the proverbial gas tank.

“I started playing golf at a young age and started playing competitively at around the age of 12,” Palazzolo, 26, of Wall, N.J., said. “I played at George Washington University and kind of got worn out after college. But in the last few years I started to find my game. I have been working hard and taking golf seriously again.”

Playing in his first GAP event, Palazzollo carded a round of 1-under-par 71 to put himself in the hunt after Day One of the 119th Philadelphia Open Championship at Lookaway Golf Club (par 72, 6,889 yards).

Palazzolo found his way into the GAP region by joining Metedeconk National Golf Club last fall. Between then and July he found belief in himself and his game. He plans on turning professional at the end of the summer. 

“I thought about turning professional following college,” Palazzolo said. “I didn’t feel like my game warranted taking that leap. I feel like I am such a better golfer now than I was at the time. It started this past winter where I decided I was going to go all-in with golf in all aspects including fitness. I know I can do this. Worst case scenario if I fall on my face, I can live with it. I feel like I’ll give myself two years and see where I end up.”

Palazzolo has been spending his time of late running the operations of his family’s business. He’s been slinging dough and golf balls. His family owns five Krispy Pizza businesses throughout New York and New Jersey.

“I have flung a few pies in my time,” Palazzolo said. “But my dream is to play professional golf so I am going to give that a serious try. I am grinding hard to sharpen up my skills prior to making that leap.”

He’s going to know where he stands by the end of August. Plenty of competitive rounds against the area’s best in the coming weeks will offer the barometer he’s looking for.

“I think trying to figure out where my game is in the next few weeks will be important for me,” Palazzolo, the 2014 New Jersey State Golf Association Junior Champion, said. “It has worked out well timing wise to have this, the NJSGA Open and the Met Open the next couple of weeks.”

Wednesday’s round was one of promise but missed opportunities. Three birdies, two bogeys and poor positioning on the par 5s.

“I have definitely grown a lot as a player in the last couple of years,” Palazzolo said. “A round like today I would’ve been ecstatic about two years ago. Now I feel like I could do better. I learned a lot about this golf course today that I believe will be beneficial tomorrow.” 

Little Mill’s Meisenzahl returns to GAP

Résumé building is an important part of any career. Mike Meisenzahl’s list of relevant experiences include positions at Shore Gate Golf Club, Los Angeles Country Club, Plainfield Country Club and Jupiter Hills Club. Now, he serves as Director of Golf at Little Mill Country Club.

Before pursuing a career in the golf industry, Meisenzahl played in GAP tournaments as an amateur.

“I played [on the BMW GAP Team Matches team] for Little Mill,” Meisenzahl, 35, of Marlton, N.J., said. “I actually skipped my college graduation to play in the [BMW GAP Team Match] Finals.”

In 2011, Meisenzahl won GAP’s Silver Cross Award which is presented to the player with the lowest aggregate score in the qualifying rounds of the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship and the Joseph H. Patterson Cup. 

Following his GAP amateur success, he chose golf as his career path.   

“[After winning the Silver Cross] I got involved in the golf business,” Meisenzahl, a 2011 James Madison University graduate, said. “My career started at Shore Gate Golf Club. I was fortunate to reach out to some great mentors in the area [including] Jason Lamp the Director of Golf at Galloway [National Golf Club]. Once I kind of went over what my career aspirations were, he encouraged me to see what I could achieve.”

From 2013-22 Meisenzahl spent time as assistant golf professional at Shore Gate, LACC, Plainfield CC, and Jupiter Hills. In 2023, he became the director of golf at Little Mill. 

“I encourage anybody who wants to work at the best clubs in the world to contact the people who are already in those places and let them get a feel for you,” Meisenzahl said. “You’ve got to have a dream, you’ve got to have goals and then you’ve got to help find who can give you the knowledge to achieve them. Then it’s on you to go out and put in the work to bring it to fruition.”

Before day’s end, Meisenzahl fired 1-under-par 71 to join the 71 other players to make the cut. The cutline stopped at 74. 

Meisenzahl’s card featured four birdies. A 5-iron on No. 1 (par 4, 377 yards) left him with a 143-yard approach. His pitching wedge settled eight feet from the hole and resulted in his first red figure. On No. 3 (par 5, 531 yards), he lashed a 3-wood from 245 yards to 25 feet. Two putts allowed for another birdie. He kept momentum going with another birdie on No. 4 (par 4, 362 yards) after flighting a lob wedge from 96 yards to three feet. No. 17 (par 5, 523 yards) elicited the final red number. A 3-wood from 260 yards settled just short of the green. A chip and a putt sealed the deal. 

“None [of the birdies] were long putts being poured in,” Meisenzahl said. “It was just very simple golf.”

Meisenzahl tees off at 10:10 a.m. tomorrow with Rolling Green Golf Club’s Assistant Professional Anthony Sebastianelli and Blue Bell Country Club’s Daniel Oh.

Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The organization’s 340 Member Clubs and 100,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

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