121st #BMWGTM: Week Three - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

May 09, 2023

121st #BMWGTM: Week Three

Playoff renewal set for May 13

Brand the 121st BMW GAP Team Matches Playoff as “The Rematch.”

| Playoff | Challenges |

Huntingdon Valley Country Club (3–0, 114.5 points), LuLu Country Club 1 (3–0, 115 points), Merion Golf Club (2.5–.5, 105.5 points) and Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 (3–0, 116 points) return to the Team Matches Playoff, set for Saturday, May 13. The Challenges will take place that day as well.

Philadelphia Cricket (59 points) defeated Huntingdon Valley (56.5), LuLu (51) and Merion (49.5) a year ago. 

It is the first time in nearly nine decades that the same four clubs earned consecutive trips to the BMW GAP Team Matches Playoff. Cedarbrook Country Club, Llanerch Country Club, Old York Road Country Club and Rolling Green Golf Club did so in 1936-37.

“If you looked at the brackets at the beginning of the year, those would have been the four favorites. It sort of played out how you would have hoped, if you were doing that,” Jim Sullivan, Jr., LuLu’s co-captain, said. “Win or lose, it’s an enjoyable, stressful, competitive, exciting day. We look forward to Saturday as being a fun day to play golf.”

“I think these teams were the favorites coming in,” Andrew Mason, Huntingdon Valley’s captain, added. “LuLu is deep. Merion is deep. Cricket is deep. Our team follows suit. We’re anxious to go back out Saturday and see where the chips fall.”

The BMW GAP Team Matches Playoff includes teams from Division AA, the event’s top tier. Three players of each participating club play at each venue. Each player competes in a four-way match against one player from another team.

Huntingdon Valley, LuLu and Philadelphia Cricket 1 all left little doubt concerning postseason status. Although Mother Nature did throw a wrench in the timing. 

Both Huntingdon Valley and Philadelphia Cricket completed Week Two on Saturday, May 6. Significant rainfall on April 30 postponed matches across the Team Matches landscape. Huntingdon Valley wrapped its bout against Aronimink Golf Club (0–3, 58.5 points) with a 38–16 victory. Less than 24 hours later, it thumped Little Mill Country Club (1–2, 71.5 points), 42.5–11.5, in Week Three. 

A similar script for Philadelphia Cricket 1: a Week Two triumph over Philadelphia Cricket 2 (1–2, 63 points), 40.5–7.5, followed by a Week Three triumph over Llanerch Country Club (0–3, 56.5 points), 41–13. Only LuLu posted a Week Two result on the originally scheduled date. Again, similar point differential: 41–13 over Tavistock Country Club (0–3, 57 points).

Merion, like its Playoff peers, won handily in Week Two: 42–12 over North Hills Country Club (0–3, 50 points). 

“We got a big boost at home by being able to play in those conditions [on April 30],” Patrick Knott, Merion’s captain, said. “The greens were still rolling at 12 or 13. [Superintendent] Paul Latshaw, [Head Golf Professional] Scott Nye, [Assistant Professional] Grant Gardiner and the entire team did a great job in keeping the course in a condition for us to play. It was a big boost knowing what our home team did in Week Two. It gave us some confidence for the away team [at North Hills].”

The 24.5 points accrued by Merion’s home team proved critical. In Week Three, Merion tied Glenmaura National Golf Club, (2.5–.5, 93.5 points), 27–27. Although both teams finished with the same record, a points tiebreaker decided a Playoff berth for Merion. 

In terms of recent BMW GAP Team Matches notoriety, Merion is the outlier. Its last title came two decades ago. Merion holds four titles (1897, 1923, 1995, 2003) overall. The previous five titles belong to their Playoff brethren — Philadelphia Cricket (2022, 2017-18), LuLu (2021) and Huntingdon Valley (2019).

“At the end of the day, the Playoff comes down to all 12 guys contributing and playing well,” Knott, 37, of Haverford, Pa., said. “You can’t pick and choose matchups in this. All 12 players on each team are really strong. We’re just going to need to buckle down, play some good golf, add all of the points at the end and see what happens.”

“We all know each other. It’s anybody’s ballgame,” Mason, 34, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., added. 

Familiarity is part of the Playoff equation. Momentum, too. 

“Against Whitemarsh, we just played great. The way the score turned out showed that our team really played great. Hopefully it’s a sign that they’re starting to play well coming into the Playoff as well as the rest of the tournament season,” Sullivan, 48, of Glenside, Pa., said.  

Another Playoff factor: matchups. More specifically, “horses for courses,” as Conrad Von Borsig, Philadelphia Cricket’s captain, characterized it. 

“We start by profiling each golf course. Merion being the tactician. Huntingdon Valley: all about accuracy and creativity. Cricket: bomber’s paradise. LuLu – you just got to be able to handle the scene over there, as I call it. Your buttoned up kind of guy might get a little flustered with the noise,” Von Borsig, 36, of Fort Washington, Pa., said. “After we profile the course, we then profile our players and put them into those buckets.”

BMW GAP Team Matches
The BMW GAP Team Matches, the genesis of GAP’s founding in 1897, has been contested annually since 1897, 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 Member Clubs – Belmont Golf Association (Aronimink Golf Club today), 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 has served as the event’s presenting sponsor since 2015.

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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