The clock reads 3:30 a.m. as Stonewall’s grounds crew arrives on site. Within a half hour they will be out on the golf course, headlamps illuminated, cutting the grass on the glorious greens that populate the club’s 390 acres.
It is the first day of the 2019 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship. In approximately three hours, 138 of the top golfers in the Philadelphia area will begin play on both the Old and North courses.
The preparation, which commenced 10 days prior to the tournament’s first tee shot, is certainly considerable. It takes a team of dedicated people to assemble an event that both runs smoothly and impresses all who take part. In addition to mowing the greens, there are also 192 bunkers to rake. The grass must be treated, the hedges trimmed and the holes cut.
When it comes to tournament week, such assignments must be completed even when there is the type of significant rainfall that the Philadelphia area experienced this week. Before the precipitation Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Stonewall was forced to deal with an inch-and-a-half of rain the day prior to the tournament on Monday.
Sleep may be sacrificed, conditions uncomfortable, and adaptations to the normal maintenance routine undoubtedly are necessary. Nevertheless, for Stonewall Superintendent Daniel Dale, such measures are warranted when there is championship golf to be played.
“These tournaments [only] come here and there so you have to take advantage of it,” Dale said.
Stonewall’s impeccable preparation for this year’s Philadelphia Amateur should come as no surprise given the experience the club has hosting distinguished events. Prior to hosting this year, the Philadelphia Amateur was played on the premises in both 2000 and 2009. The GAP Open has come to Stonewall too, as has the Ladies Trans National Tournament, and both the Pennsylvania Open and Amateur. The club has also hosted qualifying events for a couple of national championships, namely, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur.
For GAP’s most lofty competition, the venue must be equally majestic. Stonewall, designed by Tom Doak in 1992, indisputably fits the bill. Set in the serenity of northwestern Chester County, golfers endure the challenges both the North and Old courses pose along with the comfort of the alluring views throughout the property.
The club’s excellence has earned each of its courses numerous recognitions. The North Course, which opened in 2003, was proclaimed to be one of the 10 best new private courses in the world by The Golfer. It was also ranked 13th on Golf Week’s list of the 40 best new courses the year it opened.
Just down the road, the Old Course has been given its share of honors as well. The track has appeared in both the Golf Magazine’s list of top 100 courses in the U.S., as well as Golf Week’sthe top 100 modern courses in the country.
Stonewall and its members are gracious and willing hosts.
“They [the members] are big on amateur golf,” Paul Mauer, the only general manager Stonewall has known since its founding, said. “They really want to promote amateur golf.”
This week, that quest, and more, has doubtlessly been achieved.
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 274 Full 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.