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37th Middle-Amateur preview

Lovely LedgeRock set to host Sept. 29-30

New site. New month. Same Major flavor.

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The 37th Middle-Amateur Championship will take place Sept. 29-30 at LedgeRock Golf Club in Mohnton, Pa. It is traditionally the first Major the GAP tournament season, but the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a few changes.

DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del. was set to host the Middle-Amateur May 18-19. GAP postponed the event — a spring to fall shift — because of the global health crisis. It canceled Qualifying altogether, thereby making the Middle-Amateur invitation-only. Furthermore, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, a site change occurred.

Enter LedgeRock, which will welcome its first GAP Major.

“Our Golf Chairman, Larry Schultz, was a big part of that. We always want to support the GAP,” Zach Halvonik, LedgeRock’s golf professional, said. “It’s a Major, and we wanted to be the ones to be able to host it this year. We were just happy to do that, even on short notice.”

LedgeRock, a Rees Jones design, opened in 2006. Carefully crafted within 212 acres of Berks County hillside, it presents captivating vistas, seamless elevation changes and a distinct championship pedigree. 

“Players can expect a challenging course. They’re going to get to use every club in the bag. LedgeRock really forces you to do that,” Halvonik, 28, of West Reading, Pa., said. “(Superintendent) Alan FitzGerald and his staff do a great job maintaining the golf course. The greens are going to be very quick. I know they’re going to be growing the rough out a little bit. The person who is striking the ball the best is going to be the one winning the event. It’s going to be a great test.”

A field of 53 will make sure to pack the necessary stationery. Whitemarsh Valley Country Club’s Will Davenport returns as defending champion. He defeated Kennett Square Golf & Country Club’s Andrew Keeling in a four-hole aggregate playoff a year ago at Rolling Green Golf Club.  

“I didn’t set any specific results goals. I’m working on a lot of things in my game right now, and I just hope that I play golf that I’m happy with. I’ll the chips fall where they may in terms of finish,” Davenport, 27, said. “It was nice to have success in this event last year. It was really exciting. I’m mostly looking forward to playing a fun two days with cool guys on a golf course I haven’t seen yet.”

Davenport, a Palm City, Fla. native, completed The Wharton School MBA Program in May. He remained in the Philadelphia region throughout the summer, making the most of his golf opportunities. Of note, Davenport shared medalist honors in the 120th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship at Lancaster Country Club and runner-up honors in the 107th Pennsylvania Golf Association Amateur Championship at Lookaway Golf Club.

He made it a priority to participate in both the Middle-Amateur and the 116th Open Championship, set for Oct. 5-6 at Doylestown Country Club, before moving to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Davenport starts a position with Boston Consulting Group in Miami, Fla. in January 2021.

“Competing in golf tournaments is the thing I enjoy the most, if I have an opportunity to do it. The GAP runs tournaments that I really enjoy at great venues,” he said. “It was a no-brainer for me [to compete in the Middle-Amateur]. I relish the chance to defend.”

Davenport is one of five former Middle-Amateur champions in the field. Others include Ben Feld of Green Valley Country Club (2017), Matthew Mattare of Saucon Valley Country Club (2016), Peter Barron, III of Galloway National Golf Club (2014) and Oscar Mestre of Overbrook Golf Club (2002).

A William Hyndman, III Player of the Year points event, the Middle-Amateur Championship started in 1984, three years after the USGA created the U.S. Mid-Amateur as a formal championship for post-college amateurs. GAP followed suit 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 only available to players 30 years of age or older.

The GAP 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. 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.

GAP reduced the field size to 78 for all of its 2020 events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Caddies and spectators are prohibited.  

Aside from offering live scoring on its website, GAP will provide Middle-Amateur updates via Twitter. Follow @GAofPhilly and connect by using the hashtag #GAPMidAm. 

Media members interested in attending must contact Martin D. Emeno, Jr., GAP Director of Operations, at 610-687-2340 ext. 27 or via email at memeno@gapgolf.org in advance regarding protocols.

GAP
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 288 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.