Dec 21, 2017

Merchantville rings in holidays with Santa Open fundraiser

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Merry early Christmas, golfers.

Arrive to Merchantville Country Club bright and early for the club’s first-ever Santa Open. Check your bag at the door, head to the registration table and throw on that famous red suit. Grab some breakfast, indulge in a warm libation – or more commonly, a plethora of them – and strap into a golf cart with a Cris-Cringled teammate.

This was the successfully executed itinerary for a festive fundraising event held at the club Dec. 2, just in time for the most wonderful time of the year.

“Ryan Cass and John Tierney came to me one day and asked ‘Why don’t we do a Santa Claus Open? Let’s get it going off the ground.’ For a week or two, we only had one or two groups and we weren’t sure where it was going,” said Ethan Pauxtis, Merchantville’s golf professional. “But then it really started to take off. We ended up with around 50-60 guys who competed.”

That meant a quick Amazon shopping spree was in store. Tierney, Merchantville’s golf chairman, stepped up and found affordable suits for all. The cost of the event covered the Santa get-up, breakfast, drinks and lunch.

“We’ve heard from other clubs about ideas like [the Santa Open]. There were two reasons behind starting the event: generating revenue for the club during the offseason, and two, donating as much as we could to charity,” said Cass, Merchantville’s men’s club champion.

It was clear many players weren’t there just for the competition during the five-man scramble tournament, but rather for an “entertaining day out on the links with a holiday theme that went hand-in-hand with an opportunity to give back.” After all, having a good time while playing golf is what Merchantville does best.

“Here at Merchantville, we’re not going to say we have the best or most talented players in GAP. But we most certainly might have the most fun,” said Cass. “We’re proud of that, and this event really put that on display. It was a huge success overall.”

While the golf and social aspect was a rousing success, as demonstrated by the high attendance, so was the fundraising function. The event helped deliver a donation to Urban Promise in addition to over 100 toys for Toys-for-Tots.

“It was a win-win for everyone to give a little cheer and give back to the needy at the same time. Everyone was on the same page throughout, and I’m proud of what we did,” said Mike Biazzo, a Merchantville member of four years.

Coming in with a 14-under scramble score, Joe Malcarney, Tanner Strow, Mike Hanf, Sean Scanlon and John Heinsen took home the title of the first-ever Santa Open.

The trophy lifting arguably wasn’t even the highlight of the day on the course. That distinction goes to a scene resembling one of a classic Christmas comedy, which didn’t just involve the jolly golfers but a well-traveled road lying next to Merchantville’s par-4 second hole. Nearly 25 cars traveling on Hampton Road stopped, pulled over and took photos of the golfing Santas that day.

“It was hilarious to see and definitely one of the more memorable moments of the day. Everyone got a kick out of it,” said Pauxtis.

The club has full intentions to keep the snowball rolling into next year – a second Santa Open is at the top of their Christmas list.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into, but honestly, in the end, this event brought a whole sense of community to the club. It was a great way to bring in the holiday season,” said Pauxtis. “It filled up quickly this year, and hopefully we’ll sell this thing out the next time around. We’re looking forward to keeping it going down the line.”

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 150 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. 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.

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