May means it’s time for the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Middle-Amateur Championship. The 29th edition will take place next Wednesday and Thursday at Chester Valley Golf Club.
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A field of 132 players will take compete in the 36-hole event, with the low 70 and ties advancing to the final round. Glenn Smeraglio of Mercer Oaks Golf Course returns to defend his Middle-Amateur title.
“My expectations are high,” Smeraglio, 52, of Newtown, Pa., said. “I don’t want to seem cocky, but I’m looking to repeat. My game’s been pretty good so far this year. If I can get some putts to go in, I’ll be fine.”
Holding onto his title and winning another GAP Major aren’t the only incentives for Smeraglio. When Chester Valley last hosted the Middle-Amateur Championship a decade ago, he finished second — two strokes behind winner Oscar Mestre of Overbrook Golf Club. Smeraglio led the tournament at 2 under thru 32 holes, but a double bogey on the par 3, 170-yard 15th hole crippled his position.
“I’m going in with a mindset that I have something to finish there that I didn’t get finished the first time,” he said. “I feel like I left it there last time. I want to make sure I don’t make the mistakes I made 10 years ago.”
Mestre, 52, of Berwyn, Pa., will tee off alongside Michael R. Brown of Philadelphia Publinks GA, the 2009 Middle-Amateur Champion and 2010 William Hyndman, III Player of the Year, and Jamie Slonis of Tavistock Country Club, the 2001 Patterson Cup Champion.
“I have fond memories of the tournament and the venue,” Mestre, 52, of Berwyn, Pa., said. “It holds a special place in my personal history. You always like going back to a place where you’ve had success. I’m looking forward to it.”
Smeraglio opens his title defense paired with two former Middle-Amateur champions in Thomas Gramigna of Tavistock Country Club (2010) and Michael McDermott of Merion Golf Club, a three-time Middle-Amateur Champion (2001, 2004 and 2008).
“Everybody’s game has a little bit of competitive rust, even if they’ve been playing OK in social rounds,” McDermott, 37, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., said. “I’ve always found if I can shake that off in the first nine holes, I’ll have a good tournament. The Mid-Am is always fun.”
Other former champions and Major titleholders in the field include Chris Lange of Overbrook Golf Club, a two-time Middle-Amateur Champion who has won all four GAP Major titles; Chip Lutz of LedgeRock Golf Club, the two-time, reigning Senior Player of the Year and a two-time Middle-Amateur Champion and Eric Williams of Makefield Highlands Golf Club, the reigning Pennsylvania State Golf Association Mid-Am Champion.
The Middle-Amateur Championship is for players 25 years of age and older. It is a William Hyndman, III Player of the Year event.
The inaugural Middle-Amateur Championship was held in 1984, three years after the USGA created the U.S. Mid-Am as a formal championship for post-college amateurs. The Association followed suit with the USGA in creating a Mid-Am, 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 Mid-Am was for players 30 years of age and older.
The Association’s 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 players. Also at that point, the Committee changed the format of the event to a two-day stroke play tournament (instead of a one-day medal play event) with a cut to the low 70 players and ties after the first round. The field begins with 132 players. Players must have a GAP/USGA Handicap Index of 7.0 or lower.
Members of the media are encouraged to attend this year’s event. Aside from offering live scoring on its Web site, the Association will also provide Middle-Amateur updates on its Facebook and Twitter pages. Search “Golf Association of Philadelphia” and Like Us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @GAofPhilly. Also check out the GAP Press Pass Blog for insights and analysis live from Chester Valley.
For more information on the Middle-Amateur Championship, contact the GAP office at 610-687-2340.
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 145 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.