Three teams victorious in Sam Spencer
The AGA/GAP Sam Spencer Four-Ball, conducted July 15 at Glen Oak Country Club (par 72, 6,608 yards), can best be compared to a heavyweight boxing bout. Good weather and course conditions led to low numbers and close competition throughout the board.
In the Amateur Division, the pair that almost wasn’t of Matthew Dougherty (Glenmaura National Golf Club) and Charles Dennis (Country Club of Scranton) captured the crown with a score of 7-under-par 65 to top a field of 33 teams, 17 of which recorded a subpar score. After Dougherty`s original partner backed out, he called up his “old friend” Dennis to form the dynamic duo.
Dougherty started scorching hot, carding an eagle on No. 1 (par 5, 541 yards).
“I`ve been playing well the past couple of weeks, so my confidence was high,” said the 41-year-old Dalton, Pa., native. “My ball off of the tee landed in the rough, so I chopped it out and hit a 63-wedge in from 65 yards out, which just so happened to slam dunk into the hole. It was amazing that it stayed in given that the styrofoam was in there.”
Dougherty’s hot start continued as he notched a birdie on No. 4 (par 3, 182 yards) and followed up with another eagle on No. 7 (par 5, 469 yards).
“Every time I walk on Glen Oak, it feels good to me, which is why I know these holes pretty well,” Dougherty said. “Charles was hitting it well, so it allowed me to be more aggressive throughout the day. I had 123 yards in and I hit a wedge to four feet behind the hole and tapped it in for eagle.”
The eventual champs cooled off with pars on Nos. 8-11, a stretch that felt like an eternity to them at the time. Dougherty was a bit upset with himself when he missed near birdies on Nos. 10 (par 3, 189 yards) and 11 (par 5, 515 yards).
He broke the streak with a pair of red figures on Nos. 12 (par 4, 370 yards) and 13 (par 4, 326 yards).
“Charles set me up all day with his amazing play, and I credit him for allowing me to be so aggressive,” said Dougherty. “In better-ball, oftentimes one player will be hot, and their partner can ride the wave. I`ve been in his shoes before, and I know he`s been in mine.”
“When someone is playing as well as Matthew is it’s hard to one-up them,” said Dennis, 52, of Clarks Summit, Pa. “He played phenomenally and it was very easy to go with his flow.”
The duo ended the day on another par streak, this time lasting for five holes. The difference, however, was timing. They were the last group to tee off and recognized where they stood on the scoreboard. Pars were just enough to clinch a one-stroke victory in this dogfight.
In the Senior Division (par 72, 6,608 yards), Bill Lydick and Jim Fronzoni of Huntsville Golf Club added another Sam Spencer Four-Ball win to their resumés (2017). The duo used a score of 4-under-par 68 to top a crowded division.
Similar to the Amateur Division champions, the team’s participation looked bleak. On Monday, Lydick asked his partner to try to find someone else due to back injuries. Fronzoni went through almost 10 different possible replacements but came up empty. Not wanting to leave his partner hanging, Lydick toughed it out and put on a show that helped the former champions reach the top of the mountain yet again.
Lydick fired off three birdies in the first five holes.
“Given my back issues, I was a bit surprised to start so hot,” said the 58-year-old Forty Fort, Pa. native. “The birdie on No. 2 (par 4, 308 yards) kickstarted our day. I hit a really good drive down to 55 yards off of the green, and used my 60-degree wedge to chip into about two feet away, which led to an easy tap-in.”
The strong play from the duo continued as Lydick notched three more red figures, and Fronzoni added two.
“As well as we played, we bogeyed three par 5s,” Lydick said jokingly. “Thinking about that loosened us up and we were able to laugh about later.”
Lydick`s great play despite back injuries did not surprise his partner Fronzoni.
“Bill is a tough man, and a great player,” the 59-year-old Dallas, Pa., resident said. “With the help of his brace, his back held up, so I had a lot of confidence in him.”
The now two-time Sam Spencer Senior Division Champions will next compete in the Senior club championship at Huntsville.
Vince Scarpetta, Jr. Nittany Country Club captured his second AGA/GAP crown in three weeks, this time with the help of his partner, John Gershey Jr. of Country Club of Scranton. The duo notched a score of 4-under-par 68 (par 72, 5,636 yards) to top a field of four teams in the Super-Senior Division.
“John and I have been playing golf together since we were 13 years old,” said Scarpetta, 68, of Moosic, Pa., said. “We brought in a duo with experience of 50-plus years, which is scary to think about.”
The experience was present, as the duo notched six birdies compared to just two bogeys. The team’s first birdie came on No. 3 (par 4, 313 yards) from Scarpetta, who followed a beautiful drive with a 60-degree wedge to three feet. The eventual Super-Senior champions gained momentum early and didn’t look back.
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 288 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.