40th #GAPMidAm: Preview - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

May 19, 2023

40th #GAPMidAm: Preview

Outstanding Old York Road set for Mid.-Am.

Old York Road again. Can’t wait for a GAP Major at Old York Road again.

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| Key Holes presented by NJM Insurance Group |

The Ambler, Pa. venue welcomes the 40th Middle-Amateur Championship presented by NJM Insurance Group on May 22-23. The two-day, 36-hole event is the first Major of the 2023 GAP tournament season.

The Middle-Amateur Championship is open to individuals 25 years of age or older. There is a cut to the Top 70 players and ties for the final round.

Old York Road previously hosted the Middle-Amateur, then an 18-hole stroke play event, in 1987, won by Robert Levy of Philmont Country Club. The event switched to a 36-hole format in 2001. Old York Road also hosted the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship in 1991.

“The course is absolutely perfect right now. It’s going to be a true test,” Ryan Beck, a four-time men’s champion and Middle-Amateur competitor, said. “It’s going to be firm and fast, ideal conditions for the course really showing its teeth.”

Old York Road is fresh off an extensive bunker renovation. All new sandy structures across the board. Further adjustments include the lowering of No. 6 green approximately five feet, the expansion of complexes on Nos. 10 and 15 green and the addition of back tees to Nos. 4 and 13. 

Uncompromised is Old York Road’s hallmark: rise and fall potato chips.

“The greens are pretty tricky. You need to be able to lag putt very well and to make your six-footers. It’s a demanding course on the greens,” Beck, 36, of Ambler, Pa., said. 

Beck will tee off at 7:30 a.m. alongside Cedarbrook Country Club’s Kevin O’Brien and Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Gregor Orlando, the 2017 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Champion. 

“I’m very excited to play. I’m hoping to make the cut and be in contention on Tuesday,” Beck said. “Everybody is curious to see how the course holds up to some of the best middle amateurs in the area. I’m sure we’ll have quite a few members out there watching.”

“I’m a big believer in if you win an event, then you come back and defend.”

Troy Vannucci

A certain set of eyes will be glued to the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball scoreboard. Troy Vannucci, the defending Middle-Amateur Champion, is playing in the event alongside Jack Irons. The two, on the eve of the Middle-Amateur Championship, will be in Kiawah Island, S.C. awaiting their match-play fate. 

If the Little Mill Country Club members make the cut, then Vannucci will withdraw from the Middle-Amateur. If not, then it’s … on the road again (sorry Willie). Vannucci is scheduled to tee off at 1:50 p.m. alongside Aronimink Golf Club’s Ryan Barnett and Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Kevin Kelly. 

“I will do everything possible to be there if [Jack and I] miss match play. I’m a big believer in if you win an event, then you come back and defend,” Vannucci, 31, of Marlton, N.J., said. “Hopefully I don’t have a tee time at Old York Road on Monday. That is the ultimate game plan.”

“Everything’s packed” in case the plan doesn’t come to fruition. Vannucci will drive six or seven hours and check into a hotel for necessary shuteye before departing for Old York Road. 

The venue is a familiar one at that. Vannucci, who also finished as co-medalist in the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship a year ago, competed in the Old York Road Invitational on four occasions. 

“Old York Road really fits my game I believe,” he said. “You really have to know where you’re going. There’s a lot of movement on the greens. You could hit three or four clubs off every hole. You really have to have a gameplan; you can’t go in there and feel your way out. It’s a lot of moving parts. You have to pick your spots. It’s a thinker’s golf course.”

In addition to (potentially) Vannucci, other former Middle-Amateur titleholders in the field include Scott McNeil of The 1912 Club (2021, 2015); Michael Hyland of Little Mill (2018); Ben Feld of Green Valley Country Club (2017); Matthew Mattare of Saucon Valley Country Club (2016); John Brennan of Philadelphia Cricket (2012); Glenn Smeraglio of LuLu Country Club (2011); Michael R. Brown, Jr. of LuLu (2009) and Oscar Mestre of Overbrook Golf Club (2002).

Live scoring presented by NJM Insurance Group will be presented on the GAP website. Expect Middle-Amateur updates via Twitter as well. Follow @GAofPhilly and connect by using the hashtag #GAPMidAm. 

A William Hyndman, III Player of the Year points event, the Middle-Amateur 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 with the USGA in creating a Middle-Amateur, 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 individuals. It also, as previously mentioned, changed the format of the event to a two-day stroke play tournament with a cut to the low 70 players and ties after the first round. Furthermore, GAP lowered the handicap index requirement from 7.0 to 5.0 in 2023. 

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.

NJM Insurance Group

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