A GAME WE NEVER STOPPED PLAYING.
Scroll down to view milestones in GAP’s legacy.
FIRST INTERCLUB TEAM MATCH IN THE PHILADELPHIA AREA.
Just two years after the USGA was founded, the first interclub match in the Philadelphia region saw Devon Golf Club square off against Philadelphia Cricket Club, with the latter winning by a score of 22-12. Such a good time was had by both sides that the idea of interclub matches on a broader scale was discussed and embraced.
THE GOLF ASSOCIATION OF PHILADELPHIA IS FORMED.
Seven founders from four clubs gathered together outside of the Market Street National Bank to form the Golf Association of Philadelphia. Founding members Milton C. Work and Dr. Henry Toulmin of what we know today as Aronimink Golf Club, joined Rodman E. Giscom and Walter E. Stephenson of Merion Cricket Club, George D. Fowle and Isaac T. Starr of Philadelphia Country Club and Samuel Y. Heebner of Philadelphia Cricket Club to formalize the plans. At the outset, the objective of the Association was simple: promote the interest in the game of golf and to regulate all competitions between Member Clubs.
FIRST AMATEUR CHAMPION
The Golf Association of Philadelphia’s long and storied tradition of Amateur Championships began with its first champion in 1897. Hall of Famer Albert Haseltine Smith set the course for all to follow. Smith was viewed as the top golfer in the city at the turn of the 20th century, he would go on to claim GAP’s Amateur title again in 1911.READ MORE
THE TERM “BIRDIE” IS COINED.
One of Albert H. Smith’s most enduring contributions to the game is his link to a golf term known around the world. On one winter excursion in 1899, Smith and his friends were playing the long par-5 12th hole (as it was then played) at Atlantic City Country Club. He lashed a prodigious shot that ended up six inches or so from the hole, whereupon it was exclaimed, “That’s a bird of a shot!” or words to that effect. Various published accounts of this event helped to popularize the term “birdie” thereafter (1903).READ MORE
A LITTLE COMPETITION NEVER HURT ANYBODY.
In the early years, the Association’s competitive spirit burned just as hot as it does today with Albert H. Smith facing challengers from far and near, most notably his own brother William P. “W.P.” Smith. Albert took the very first Philadelphia Amateur with W.P. taking the title the following year. W.P. won the Philadelphia Amateur in 1898, 1901, and 1902 (edging Harold McFarland on the 36th hole for his last title). On five other occasions – 1899, 1903,1904,1910, and 1913 – W.P. Smith gained the final only to be defeated, twice by McFarland. Albert won only one other title, that in 1911.
A GAP LEGEND IS BORN.
Christened John Wood Platt, “Woody” Platt, was born April 16, 1899, and started playing golf at the age of 9. Of Scottish ancestry, he came by his golfing genes honestly, and it was an uncle who brought him three aluminum clubs from Scotland. With his cherished brassie, midiron and niblick, he knocked balls around a pasture in Roxborough that would be transformed into the Walnut Lane municipal course, a WPA project built in the late 1930s.
J.E. CALDWELL & CO. DESIGNS PATTERSON CUP.
Donated in 1900 by friends of Joseph Henry Patterson, a member of the Philadelphia Cricket Club who did much to foster the game in its infancy. The Patterson Cup is a two-day, 36-hole tournament that is scheduled in early August, and is regarded as the district’s premier stroke-play competition. Among the many names engraved on this graceful cup are those of Philadelphians whose reputations have reached far beyond the Quaker City: George Crump, Max Marston, J. Wood Platt, William Hyndman III, Jay Sigel.
80 STROKE SCORES BECOME A REGULAR OCCURENCE.
Four-time Philadelphia Amateur champion and GAP Hall of Famer Harold McFarland, becomes the first GAP golfer to break 80 consistently in competition.
FIRST AMERICAN TO WIN THE U.S. OPEN.
Born in Philadelphia, John J. McDermott learned the game as a caddie at Aronimink Golf Club. His meteoric rise began when at the age of 19, he became the first American-born golfer to win the U.S. Open Championship. To this day, McDermott remains the youngest player to win the event and is generally considered to be one of the world’s top players between 1910 and 1914. His career ended abruptly when the cruise ship he was on was struck by another vessel. He would go on to spend the rest of his days residing at Norristown State Hospital.
FOUNDING CLUB, MERION CRICKET, BECOMES MERION GOLF CLUB.
Merion’s East Course’s opened in 1912. The course was designed by Hugh Wilson, a 32-year-old member of the club. Inspired by the great courses of England and Scotland, he would go on to design Merion’s West Course in 1914. Merion has hosted the most USGA Championships of any club in history (19 championships to date, including the 2026 U.S. Amateur Championship).
STORIED PINE VALLEY OPENS FOR PLAY.
In early 1913, George Crump purchased 184 acres of hunting grounds near the Reading Railroad line from Sumner Ireland for the price of $50 an acre. After terraforming the land into 11 holes, Crump opened Pine Valley for play the very next year. Holes 1 through 9, 10, and 18 were rounded out before completing the full 18 holes five years later in 1919, becoming the first version of what is today considered the best golf course in the world.
PLATT WINS THE JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP.
In the 36-hole Final, the North Hills Country Club youth bested Herb Newton, Frankford Golf Club, 3&2 at Philadelphia Country Club to win the Junior Boys’ Championship, thus beginning what would go on to be one of the most prolific careers in GAP history.
PLATT WINS FIRST AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP.
At Huntingdon Valley, Woody won his first Philadelphia Amateur, whipping the host club’s Horace Francine, the 1914 Champion, 8&6. J. Wood Platt would go on to win seven Championships, an achievement that still ranks first in GAP’s storied history.
PHILADELPHIA’S GREATEST GOLF SEASON EVER.
In 1923, Maxwell “Max” R. Marston put together one of the best golf seasons any player has ever had, winning several of the most competitive events in the country. In the span of five months, Marston won the Philadelphia Amateur, Merion’s Club
Championship, the U.S. Amateur, the Pennsylvania Amateur, the Patterson Cup, and Pine Valley’s Crump Cup. Additionally, he earned GAP’s Silver Cross and helped America win the Walker Cup at St. Andrews.
HIS CAREER’S STRONG START HAD AN EVEN STRONGER FINISH.
William Hyndman, III won his first Amateur in 1935, becoming the youngest Amateur champion up until that point at just 19 years old. His career got off to a great start but it also had a strong closing as he returned a win in the 1983 U.S. Senior Amateur, becoming the USGA’s oldest champion at the age of 67.
WILSON WINS HER FIRST OF MANY TITLES.
In GAP’s “A Centennial Tribute to Golf in Philadelphia” legendary author Jim Finegan needed 22 pages to cover all of GAP Hall of Famer, Helen Sigel Wilson’s accomplishments. Wilson’s career spanned six decades and saw her win more than 350 titles. That is not a typo. Her first Major victory in a Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia tournament came in 1939 and her last, a Senior Championship, came in 1981. She was the first female inducted into the GAP Hall of Fame in 2018.
YOUNGEST AMATEUR CHAMPION CROWNED.
In 1949, at the age of 18 years old, 3 months, 19 days, Lincoln “Linc” Roden, III became the youngest player to win the Association’s Amateur Championship. A year later, he would go on to retain his title, defeating Bill Robinson of Whitemarsh Valley CC in 22 holes at Robinson’s home club. In addition to his playing career, Roden also made an impact as the former greens chairman at Huntingdon Valley where he was instrumental in restoring the course’s “C Nine.”
GERMAIN WINS U.S. WOMEN’S AMATEUR.
Dorothy Germain Porter won her first of three Pennsylvania Women’s Amateurs in 1946 after starting off her career with a number of junior and amateur golf championships. She went on to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1949, was a member of the U.S. winning team for the 1950 Curtis Cup and served as captain of the 1966 victory. In 1977 she became the first Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia Match Play Champion to go on to win the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur—a title she would win again in 1980, ’81, ’83, and ’84. Dorothy was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
PLATT SERVES AS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT.
There’s only one person to serve as GAP President on two occasions, and of course, there is only one J. Wood Platt. Serving the first of his two stints in 1952-53 with the second one coming in 1956. Platt is the first and only Philadelphia Amateur Champion to become GAP President.
J. Wood Platt continued to change the course of the game he loved even when he was behind a desk rather than behind a club.
PLATT WINS FIRST U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR.
GAP’s most influential figure capped his storied playing career with a win of the first U.S. Senior Amateur Championship ever contested in 1955. The win would cap a playing career which included seven GAP Amateur Championships, 11 total GAP Major titles, four Joseph H. Patterson Cups, and a Junior Boys’ Champion in 1918.
John Dyniewski and Howard Everitt would face each other often throughout the 1950s and early 60s. Each man would go on to win three Amateur Championships in the time they competed. This was also a generally very competitive era for golf in the area as their late matches included an up-and-coming R. Jay Sigel out of Dyniewski’s own Whitemarsh CC.
THE J. WOOD PLATT CADDIE SCHOLARSHIP IS FOUNDED.
Along with his playing career and two terms as GAP President, J. Wood Platt’s eponymous scholarship makes him arguably the most influential GAP member in history. The J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust’s has awarded more than $23 million in financial aid to 3,900 young men and women since its founding in 1958, a year before his death.
TWO-TIME JUNIOR BOYS CHAMPION ROBERT MCMAHON.
In the 1950s, one of GAP’s most prolific amateur careers was getting underway. However, R. Jay Sigel, a Golf Association of Philadelphia Hall of Famer, lost in the Final in consecutive years to another competitor by the name of Robert McMahon. The two rose through the ranks from their younger years and went on to have respected careers in their own arenas. Another title McMahon would go on to earn in 1992 was Mayor of Media Borough.
O. GORDON BREWER, JR. WINS FIRST AMATEUR.
O. Gordon Brewer, Jr.’s golf career as a player alone would qualify him as a legend. A two-time Philadelphia Amateur Champion (1967 and 1976) and a two-time U.S. Senior Amateur title winner (1994 and 1996). The Association created the Brewer Cup in 2008 in his honor–an event that saw none other than Mr. Brewer himself win the Super Senior Division title in its inaugural year.
Shown here with his wife Gail, it is Mr. Brewer’s contributions outside of his playing career that makes him an even more remarkable figure. He was named recipient of the highly regarded USGA Bob Jones Award in 2009. Mr. Brewer is known for giving back to the game—serving on various national golf organization boards as well as locally as Chairman of the J. Wood Platt Scholarship from 1988 to 1992.
SIR CHARLES AND HIS AIRNESS TEE OFF.
The 1992 Tylenol Kids Classic Pro-Am at Commonwealth National GC saw a unique pair take to the course that day–when NBA Hall of Famers Michael Jordan with 76ers legend Charles Barkley serving as his caddie took to the links and stole the show.
SIGEL TURNS PRO AT THE AGE OF 50.
After enjoying what is arguably the greatest amateur playing career in GAP history, winning every kind of GAP major title there is to win along with wins in the U.S. Amateur, British Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur — R. Jay Sigel joined the Senior PGA Tour in 1994 and earned 14 Top-10 finishes to win Rookie of the Year honors. The strong start to his professional career resulted in eight Senior PGA Tour Championships. Sigel holds the record for most Philadelphia Open Championships with six. He was also a member of GAP’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2008.
GAP ALLOWS PUBLIC FACILITIES INTO THE ASSOCIATION.
Spearheaded by Immediate Past President Bill Walsh, a GAP bylaw change allows public facilities to become Member Clubs.
GAP CELEBRATES ITS CENTENNIAL.
To commemorate GAP’s first 100 years, golf historian James W. Finegan wrote the book on all things GAP history— “A Centennial Tribute to Golf in Philadelphia” with a foreword from Arnold Palmer. In addition to writing the foreword for the Centennial Tribute, Palmer was also the honored guest alongside Philadelphia Mayor and future Governor Ed Rendell at the celebratory dinner hosted at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
STEWART BECOMES SECOND-YOUNGEST TO WIN AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP.
Winning GAP’s 102nd Amateur Championship at the age of 18, Billy Stewart become the second-youngest GAP member to win the Championship—nearing the feat of youngest winner Lincoln Roden, III (set in 1949).
LANGE BECOMES FIRST TO COMPLETE CAREER GRAND SLAM.
Overbrook GC member Chris Lange already had three Amateur titles, three Patterson Cups and two Middle-Amateur Championships entering the 2004 Open Championship at Philadelphia CC. He would leave that event with a two-stroke victory and status as the first individual to win GAP’s career Grand Slam.
CREATION OF GAP MAGAZINE.
Volume 1, Issue 1 hits the presses to continue to get the word out about all the news and events GAP has to offer. Now well into its second decade, this quarterly publication keeps our membership informed of current and past accomplishments of our storied Association.
MCDERMOTT WINS AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP.
McDermott, a five-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year since 2000, wins his first Amateur Championship at Whitemarsh Valley in 2008.
BUDDY MARUCCI WINS U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR.
GAP Hall of Famer, George “Buddy” Marucci, Jr. has appeared in more than 50 USGA Championships, including a win in the 2008 U.S. Senior Amateur. His most notable battle was with then 19-year-old Tiger Woods in the Final of the 1995 U.S. Amateur Championship, the 100th playing of that event, where he would finish runner-up, falling 2-up.
As a longtime member of the Merion Golf Club, Marucci played in four Walker Cups, serving as captain for two of them. The United States team he captained in 2009 at his home club, the U.S. with Rickie Fowler spearheading the charge defeated Great Britain & Ireland, 16.5 to 9.5.
CHIP LUTZ ADDS U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR TO CHAMPIONSHIP COLLECTION.
Chip Lutz learned to play from his father Buddy who growing up in Reading learned the game from legendary Reading Country Club head pro Byron Nelson. The lineage holds strong as Chip has enjoyed an unprecedented senior career that includes nine straight Senior Player of the Year awards. He has won three R&A Seniors Amateur Championships, two Canadian Men’s Senior Amateur Championships and one U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, which he captured on this date in 2015 at a GAP Member Club (Hidden Creek Golf Club).
In 2014, Lutz’s completed GAP’s career lifecycle with a victory in the Senior Amateur Championship–as the only player to collect trophies in the Junior Boys’ (1972), Amateur (1977), Middle-Amateur (1998, 2007) and Senior.
GAP AND AGA MERGE.
GAP merged with the Anthracite Golf Association, an organization formed in 1951, to foster the game in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Simultaneously, GAP expanded its territory to include Central Pennsylvania.
GAP UPDATES ITS LOGO FOR THE THIRD TIME IN ITS HISTORY.
The logo was the centerpiece of GAP’s rebranding. The logo was constructed to express a message of unity and longevity, representative of the oldest regional/state golf association in the country and its place within the community.
The new logo contains four distinctive parts: the shield (reflective of the organization’s steadfast principles and protection of the game in the region); the GAP acronym separated by dots (emblematic of its founding); golf clubs (a reference to the sport) and 1897 (symbolizing its beginning and longevity within the community).
First identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019, COVID-19, an infectious and deadly respiratory disease, effectively shut down the world, GAP included. On March 23, the Association, for the fifth time ever, canceled the BMW GAP Team Matches. More than 50 events followed into the cancelation pile while others were rescheduled. The majority of golf courses in the GAP region closed for nearly two months. In Pennsylvania, golf reopened, with restrictions, on May 1, on May 2 in New Jersey.GAP Magazine story
Jeff Osberg gets Grand Slam
Jeff Osberg, one of the decade’s most dominant amateurs, became the second individual to complete the career Grand Slam. Osberg won the Middle-Amateur Championship at LedgeRock Golf Club, carding rounds of 71 and 68 to prevail by two strokes over Matthew Mattare, the 2016 titleholder. Osberg won the Amateur in 2014, the Open Championship in 2016 and 2019 and the Joseph H. Patterson Cup on three occasions (2010, 2016, 2019). GAP Hall of Famer Chris Lange of Overbrook Golf Club completed the career Grand Slam in 2004 by winning the Open Championship.
DSGA joins GAP family
The Delaware State Golf Association (DSGA) merges with GAP, bringing its collection of 30 Member Clubs, 20 annual events and nearly 8,000 golfers to the roster. Laura Heien, DSGA Executive Director (2019-21), became GAP’s Director of Delaware Golf as part of the merger. GAP’s commitment to golf in Delaware focused initially on administering core USGA services and offering increased playing opportunities.
GAP introduces Women’s Championship
The Inaugural Women’s Championship is contested at Bala Golf Club in Philadelphia, Pa., Bala, site of the 1952 U.S. Women’s Open Championship won by Louise Suggs. The new 18-hole event features three divisional champions: Amateur (24 years of age or younger), Middle-Amateur (25 years of age or older) and Senior (50 years of age or older). The Championship Division winner is crowned from the lowest score posted in the Amateur and Middle-Amateur divisions, respectively. Forty-six individuals compete; Taylor Oberparleiter prevails with a score of 4-over-par 72.
Michael R. Brown, Jr. gets Grand Slam
Michael R. Brown, Jr. completes the career Grand Slam by winning the 122nd BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship at Philadelphia Country Club. He defeats clubmate Jeffrey Cunningham of LuLu Country Club, 4&3, in the 36-hole Final. Brown, a two-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year (2010, 2018), previously captured the Middle-Amateur Championship (2009), Open Championship (2010) and Joseph H. Patterson Cup (2018).
GAP celebrates its 125th anniversary with a special gala at Wilmington Country Club, site of the BMW Championship that week. A special edition of GAP Magazine is distributed to all attendees. The 125th Anniversary Gala includes a cocktail reception, discussion panel featuring PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan and USGA CEO Mike Whan, dinner, presentation of the Arnold Palmer Lifetime Service Award and a screening of “Celebrating 125 Years of GAP.” NBC Sports personality Jimmy Roberts serves as the event’s emcee.Celebrating 125 Years of GAP