Paul “Bucky” Erhardt, III, a two-time Joseph H. Patterson Cup champion and three-time Silver Cross Award winner, died Sept. 24. He was 82.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.
Erhardt’s GAP success spans three decades. He earned medalist honors in the 1970 Amateur Championship and reached the semifinals that year, where he fell to GAP Hall of Famer R. Jay Sigel, 2&1, at Whitford Country Club. Erhardt also reached the quarterfinals on three occasions (1965, 1967, 1974). He finished as low amateur in the GAP Open Championship in 1971 and 1976 and as runner-up in the Inaugural Middle-Amateur Championship in 1984.
Erhardt won consecutive Patterson Cup titles in 1981-82. His 137-total at The Springhaven Club in 1981 broke J. Wood Platt’s benchmark of 140 set in 1941. Erhardt successfully defended his Patterson title at Green Valley Country Club a year later. His Patterson trophies join three Silver Cross Awards (1968, 1978, 1981).
“Of everything in the GAP, to me, they were the most important awards,” Erhardt said in a 2011 interview. “I never won the Amateur, so maybe I would’ve felt differently. The Silver Cross to me was like winning the Amateur in medal play.”
In addition to his success in GAP Majors, Erhardt represented the Association in the Compher Cup and Mason-Dixon Matches for 15 straight years (1966-1980, 1970-84). He qualified for 10 USGA Championships, including four U.S. Amateurs (1967-68, 1970, 1982), three U.S. Mid-Amateurs (1982, 1984, 1987) and two U.S. Senior Amateurs (1996, 1998). Erhardt also competed in the 1990 U.S. Senior Open at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., where he finished 53rd overall.
“I put the clubs in my trunk, and I was waiting for Tattoo on ‘Fantasy Island’ to say, ‘Mr. Erhardt, did you have a good time?’ That was probably the highlight of my career,” Erhardt said in 2011.
Erhardt learned the game at age 9 from his father at the now-defunct Salem Country Club along the Delaware River in New Jersey. The Erhardts then moved to nearby DuPont-Penns Grove Club (now Sakima Country Club) when Bucky was 12.
Erhardt credited Peg Burnett, former GAP Executive Secretary, for his development as a Junior golfer. He won three South Jersey Junior Golf titles, represented Sakima annually in the GAP Team Matches and qualified for match play in the 1957 Amateur Championship at Cedarbrook Country Club.
“Peg Burnett took me under her wing,” Erhardt said in 2011. “I think I had the type of golf swing that must have impressed people because I was always encouraged.”
Erhardt earned a spot men’s golf team at the University of North Carolina. He played alongside collegiate stars such as Bobby Galloway (a former PGA TOUR player) and Peter Green (four-time Michigan Amateur Champion). Erhardt turned professional in 1961 and became an assistant at Saucon Valley Country Club.
“My endeavor was not to go on tour. My interest was in being a club professional,” Erhardt said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get the experience I was looking for, so I got out of golf.”
Erhardt regained his amateur status in 1962. He went on to qualify for match play in 11 Amateur Championships. In 2008, Erhardt was inducted into the Salem County Sports Hall of Fame. He served as honorary captain of the GAP team in the 2016 Compher Cup.
“I did the best I could with the time I had,” Erhardt said in 2011. “I met an awful lot of nice people and made an awful lot of friends. I don’t regret a thing.”
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.