Beanies covering crowns. Thermals affording insulation. Handwarmers thawing hands.
Must be Week One of the BMW GAP Team Matches.
Temperatures strayed in the 40s. Wind gusts flirted between 30-40 mph. And some areas even experienced light snow and sleet throughout this opening Sunday.
But as Week One weather kept up with appearances, so did Division AA, the event’s top tier. Seventy-five percent of the 2021 Playoff renewed its quest for a title with convincing victories.
LuLu Country Club (1–0), the event’s defending champions, defeated LedgeRock Golf Club (0–1), 36–18. Huntingdon Valley Country Club (1–0), the 2021 runner-up and all-time titleholder (33), breezed by Running Deer Golf Club (0–1), 44–10. Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 (1–0), a four-time BMW GAP Team Matches champion (2013, 2015, 2017-18), cruised past Division AA newcomer Northampton Country Club (0–1), 42–12. Fellow former titleholder Little Mill Country Club (1–0) knocked off Hartefeld National (0–1), 35–19.
“Obviously, we had interesting weather Week One,” Matthew Kocent, Philadelphia Cricket’s captain, said. “We had two bouts of hail at home, and three hailstorms away, which always makes things interesting. Nothing that the GAP Team Matches doesn’t typically bring this time of year.”
It typically brings strong statements from defending champions, too. LuLu not only defended its Donald Ross turf, but also reeled in 14.5 points at LedgeRock. Two-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year (2010, 2018) Michael R. Brown, Jr. and Jack Melville swept their respective singles matches and posted 2.5 better-ball points.
“We knew LedgeRock was going to be a difficult team. We played there in the Philadelphia Team Championship last fall, and they won the singles portion. They have a lot of great players. To get out of there with a win felt great,” Jim Sullivan, Jr., LuLu’s captain, said. “Our team, as a whole, played well. Mike Brown and Jack Melville got 8.5 points. Jon Rusk, playing at our place, won all of his points. In the first pairing home and away, we got all but two points. That’s where our strength was, and probably will be.”
LuLu faces Saucon Valley Country Club (0–1) in Week Two.
“It may not be an educated scouting report, but I have the impression that Saucon Valley is one of these up-and-coming teams with potential to be very strong,” Sullivan, 47, of Glenside, Pa., said. “Despite yesterday’s score, I think they have a chance to have a strong team come Week Two. We’re going to have to be ready and play every bit as well as we did yesterday in order to succeed.”
Like LuLu, Huntingdon Valley cleared its first hurdle on the return path to the Playoff.
“Running Deer has a great team. Twenty-six and a half [points] is pretty strong, even at your home course,” Andrew Mason, Huntingdon Valley’s captain, said.
Mason also tipped his cap to the team’s youth contingent: Jake Fazio, Daniel Galbreath and D.J. Pinciotti. Competing at home, Fazio and Pinciotti swept their respective singles matches and the better-ball portion. Huntingdon Valley will now turn its attention to fellow unbeaten Philadelphia Cricket Club 2.
“They’re tough. Everybody in our Section is tough,” Mason, 33, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said. “Cricket is strong at home. They have a lot of good players on their first and second teams. If everybody can make it for their first team, and some of those guys who are swing guys are playing for their second team, then they’re going to be tough to beat. It will definitely be a fun match.”
Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 certainly flexed its home muscle in Week One: 25 points to Northampton’s two.
“We were pretty confident in our home team pairings,” Matthew Kocent, Philadelphia Cricket’s captain, said. “Our goal is to always either halve or win a couple of points away, and then hopefully the home team takes care of business, which is kind of what happened.”
Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 will continue its Playoff pursuit against Aronimink Golf Club (0–1) in Week Two.
“We know quite a few of the players over there. Our guys love playing at Aronimink,” Kocent, 27, Bala Cynwyd, Pa., said. “I’m sure it’s likewise. I wouldn’t say there’s a homefield advantage either way. We’re excited to go over there, play as hard as we can and hopefully have a similar outcome as we did this week.”
The “homefield advantage” quotient contributed to Little Mill’s Week One result. The South Jersey stalwart accrued 21.5 points to Hartefeld Natonal’s 5.5.
“We have a huge homefield advantage, especially with the way the golf course is playing right now. You could tell that the Hartefeld team was a little bewildered,” Michael Hyland, Little Mill’s captain, said.
Perhaps some first name synergy aided Little Mill’s effort at home, too. The Seans (Hughes and Sigall) in the first group, the Daniels (Buzgon and Keenan) in the second and the Michaels (Hyland and Tash) in the third. A combined 7.5 points in the better-ball portion.
Little Mill will look for more of the same in Week Two when it opposes fellow unbeaten Merion Golf Club (1–0) in Week Two.
“That’s going to be an incredible match. Merion is tough because they’re as good as they want to be,” Hyland, 43, of Medford, N.J., said.
The BMW GAP Team Matches will pause because of Easter Sunday (April 17). Week Two is set for Sunday, April 24.
BMW GAP Team Matches
Since 1897, the BMW GAP Team Matches has been contested annually, save World War II (1943-45), a severe ice storm (1994) and the COVID-19 pandemic (2020). The Association’s forefathers conceived the Matches to promote spirit, fellowship and camaraderie. It started with the four founding clubs – Belmont Golf Association (now Aronimink Golf Club), Merion Cricket Club, Philadelphia Country Club and Philadelphia Cricket Club – each fielding two teams with six players per side. First known as the Interclub Team Matches, the event changed to the Suburban League Matches in 1915 before adopting its current moniker in 1997. BMW is the event’s presenting sponsor for the eighth consecutive year.
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 Association’s 330 Member Clubs and 90,000 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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