Nestled on the outskirts of the Golf Association of Philadelphia region lie two teams on the precipice of the BMW GAP Team Matches Playoff. Slightly beyond the city limits lurks a powerhouse on the brink of making history.
This is the 117th playing of the BMW GAP Team Matches.
In Week Two, Glenmaura National defeated Philmont Country Club (0–2), 41–13.
“Overall, as the scoresheet indicates, both our home and away teams played pretty solid. We’ve gotten that two weeks in a row,” team captain Matthew Dougherty said. “I think everybody on our team is playing pretty well. It’s probably one of the deepest teams that we’ve had in a couple of years. It’s easy for me to move guys around and feel confident that you’re going to get points where you need them.”
Two of Glenmaura National’s team members, Kevin Haag and Patrick Mitchell, sit tied atop the scoring charts with 12 points apiece.
“Pat is our reigning club champion. You can move him around anywhere. His game can travel,” Dougherty, 38, of Dalton, Pa., said. “Kevin kind of fell into our lap this year and has been tremendous. He joined as a result of playing in our invitational last October. We’re obviously reaping the rewards. His results have been fantastic.”
Recent history doesn’t favor Glenmaura National entering Week Three of the BMW GAP Team Matches. Since 2013, it’s boasted an undefeated record, only to falter at the Playoff’s doorstep.
“It certainly is on our minds but we don’t let it bother us,” Dougherty said. “If you look at the teams that we lost to in those years, we’re not losing to teams who we don’t feel like we shouldn’t be beating. We obviously got the benefit of Tavistock [Country Club, 1–1] beating Llanerch [Country Club, 1–1] yesterday, which puts us in a better position.”
With seven starters out of the line-up, LedgeRock’s position for a Week Two victory seemed shaky. It overcame such a challenge by upending Applebrook Golf Club (0–2), 28.5–25.5. Playing in the Nos. 1 and 2 slots at home, callups George Audi and James Blickle salvaged 2.5 points. The father-son combination of Heath and Tyler Ulrich grabbed 6.5 points combined while youngster Dylan Audi (age 17) swept his singles match at Applebrook.
Team captain Grant Skyllas expects key players such as Chip Lutz, the seven-time reigning GAP Senior Player of the Year; Scott Mayne, the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s reigning Senior Player of the Year and Nate Menon, an accomplished Junior golfer who is headed to Stanford University in the fall, to return for a “win and you’re in” bout against defending champion Little Mill Country Club (2–0) in Week Three.
“We’ll hopefully play our hearts out and get the W,” Skyllas, 30, of Reading, Pa., said. “I think that we have a chance. I think that we match up pretty well against them. We have a lot of tournament players at LedgeRock who play competitively. Philadelphia Cricket Club (1) was upset by Little Mill [in the Playoff] last year. Hopefully, LedgeRock will upset Little Mill this year. We’re really looking forward to it.”
Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 is living up to its reputation as the BMW GAP Team Matches favorite. It moved a step closer to making good on popular belief by knocking off Overbrook Golf Club (1–1), 41.5–12.5. Keeping long hitters at home and sending the straight and steady strikers away paid dividends.
“It was another solid effort,” team captain Kevin Kelly said. “We won 10 of 12 singles matches, which is great. We’re meeting expectations. Everybody still remembers that dreadful Saturday last year, when we weren’t able to get it done and finished second in the [BMW GAP] Team Matches. We’ve talked about that a lot this winter. Obviously the first goal is to try and get back to that Playoff. The main goal is to try and win it.”
Through two weeks, Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 holds a Division AA-high 92.5 points. It leads Week Three opponent Aronimink Golf Club (1–1) by 38 in the category.
“Aronimink’s very young and very good. We’re not going to take them for granted,” Kelly, 50, of Horsham, Pa., said.
Perhaps equally as impressive as Philadelphia Cricket Club 1’s outpouring of points thus far is the performance of its club brethren. Philadelphia Cricket Club 2 (2–0) leads the Section 4 standings following a 31.5–22.5 win over DuPont Country Club (0–2). Anchored by the tandem of Kevin Frost and Steve Oh, it earned 14 points at DuPont.
“It was obviously a good win. It was good to see that the guys on the road were actually able to win on the road, which was definitely surprising,” team captain Jack Wallace said.
The inner-club competition at Philadelphia Cricket is producing positive results. Diplomacy trumps politicking when it comes to Philadelphia Cricket Club 2’s roster.
“There isn’t an issue with guys on the team wanting to play on the first team, or guys on the first team coming down some weeks to play on the second team,” Wallace, 32, of Norristown, Pa., said. “Marc Mandel is a great example. He’s played in USGA events. He has a couple of young kids and is busy with work, so his Handicap Index is a little higher in the recent past. He’s played for team two the past two years. Never a complaint. It’s a really good atmosphere that way.”
A scant four points separate Philadelphia Cricket Club 2 and Huntingdon Valley Country Club (1–1). The two face off in Week Three.
“Huntingdon Valley is the chalk. They’ve got a resurgence with some of their younger guys playing great. They will be very tough for us,” Wallace said. “I know they’re coming of a loss, but they know as well as we do that with a good win this week, they can make the Playoff. I would expect (team captain) Dan Pinciotti and his crew to be throwing at us everything we can handle. Even though we’re the 2–0 team, I would say we’re an underdog in this match-up.”
BMW GAP Team Matches
Since 1897, the BMW GAP Team Matches has been contested annually, save World War II (1943-45) and the severe ice storm of 1994. 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 — 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 returns for a third year as the event’s presenting sponsor.
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 153 Full Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.