Three teams battle rain, wind en route to wins
A scorecard incident sparked sorrow, but didn’t scar. It instead motivated Anthony Bellino and Tyler McGarry Monday in the AGA/GAP Carlyle Robinson Fall Four-Ball at Elkview Country Club (par 72, 6,608 yards).
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The two, teaming for the first time in 2020, carded a 4-under-par 68 to capture the event’s Amateur Division. The victory came on the heels of shared disappointment stemming from a 36-hole better-ball event at Emanon Country Club over the weekend.
Bellino and McGarry played in the penultimate pairing, but alongside different partners: Robert Romasiewicz and Jake Wysocki. respectively. Expecting to enter a sudden-death playoff for the title, McGarry and Wysocki unintentionally signed for an incorrect score, thereby missing out.
“We were trying to get everything done quickly. We rushed everything,” Bellino, an Emanon member, said. “It was great that we were able to bounce back from the weekend.”
“I looked at Anthony and said, ‘We’re going to get this win today,’” McGarry, a Huntsville Golf Club member, added. “When that whole scorecard debacle went down, he felt a little bad. It was my fault, but he felt bad about it. We both wanted to get a win to try and ease the mind a little bit.”
Minds eased entirely.
McGarry opened the team’s quest for quelling with an eagle on No. 1 (par 5, 487 yards). After crushing a drive into the left rough, he drilled a 6-iron 210 yards to 15 feet. McGarry closed the team’s outward tour with the three straight (well, two technically) birdies. On No. 7 (par 3, 168 yards), he hit a soft 9-iron to 10 feet. The par 5, 548-yard No. 8 somewhat mirrored No. 1: a 6-iron 200 yards to 15 feet. McGarry’s eagle attempt, however, burnt the right edge. On No. 9 (par 3, 148 yards), he stopped a pitching wedge two inches from the hole location. Bellino, meanwhile, lifted a 9-iron to 20 feet.
“Anthony wanted to putt first. He said, ‘I want you to mark that. I want to putt it. I want to earn something.’ I said, ‘Alright, I’ll let you go,’” McGarry, 23, of Pittston, Pa., said. “We kind of joked about it.”
“Tyler played some of the best golf I ever saw on that front nine,” Bellino, 28, of West Pittston, Pa., said. “What a shot he hit into No. 9. We were laughing as we walked up to the green. ‘You know I’m making this, right?’ It was halfway [to the hole] and Tyler just started laughing because it was on a good line and went in.”
The laughter receded — albeit briefly — when the Bellino and McGarry team bogeyed No. 10 (par 4, 384 yards): a missed green for the former, tree trouble for the latter. But Bellino rebounded with a 12-footer for birdie on No. 11 (par 4, 359 yards) following a flip wedge.
“That was a huge birdie for us. It got us to 5 under and helped to straighten the ship a little bit,” McGarry, who graduated from Keiser University in May, said.
Bellino’s birdie did ultimately prove to be huge for the team. Critical also: a McGarry six-footer to salvage a bogey on No. 18 (par 4, 400 yards). He and Bellino prevailed by a stroke over Wemberly Hills Golf Club’s James Dougherty and Glenmaura National Golf Club’s Patrick Mitchell.
“It was a solid showing for us. We vibe off each other pretty well,” Bellino said. “He’s the ‘A’ player in the group. There’s no denying that. I just try to pitch in when I can.”
Bellino and McGarry will again team for the AGA/GAP Modified Stableford Tournament Oct. 21 at Huntsville.
Senior & Super-Senior Division
Shared golf opportunities elude Mark Bartkowski and Ken Bolcavage these days. They hold membership at different clubs and rely on different golfers for various better-ball events.
But when the schedule stars align, rest assure the friends of 40 years will link on the links. Such was the case — a successful one at that — Monday at Elkview. Bartkowski, a Wemberly Hills Golf Club member, and Bolcavage, representing the host club, carded a 2-under-par 70 to take the event’s Senior Division (par 72, 6,099 yards).
“The temperature all day was near 44 degrees, with sustained 20-30 mile-per-hour winds,” Bartkowski, 56, of Roaring Brook, Pa., said. “We had a cart cover. That was a benefit to us, to keep the wind off. Regardless of what people may think, I think that helped us.”
“It was a challenge right from the start because the weather was unbelievable. It was just an ugly day,” Bolcavage, 57, of Crystal Lake, Pa., added. “It wasn’t a day where we were going to shoot 8 under. We stayed focused and made pars.”
And birdies. Bartkowski went back-to-back on Nos. 5 (par 4, 409 yards) and 6 (par 4, 330 yards): a downhill 50-degree wedge 150 yards to 25 feet on the former, a lob wedge from inside 100 yards to 15 feet on the latter. Bolcavage moved the team to 3 under after a birdie on No. 9 (par 3, 130 yards), where he hit a gap wedge to 10 feet. On No. 14 (par 4, 457 yards), both Bartkowski (15 feet) and Bolcavage (six feet) made good on red.
Then came trouble. Club selection given a swirling wind caused a team bogey on No. 16 (par 3, 192 yards). Bartkowski never found his golf ball on the par 5, 463-yard 17th hole after sending his second shot into a mass of leaves. Bolcavage rolled his 40-footer for birdie into gimme territory.
The putt was anything but.
“He’s butter on those. He never misses it, and he missed it,” Bartkowski said. “He felt terrible. At the time, we didn’t know [it would be inconsequential].”
“I don’t know what happened,” Bolcavage added. “I said, ‘Mark, if we lose by one, then I’m going to be so pissed.’ With Mark and I, we can laugh about that. Nobody feels worse about a bad shot than the guy who hit it.”
Bolcavage undoubtedly felt good about a critical two-putt par on No. 18 (par 4, 372 yards). Entering Elkview’s closer, he and Bartkowski held a one-stroke lead over groupmates Huntsville Golf Club’s Matt Froncek and Michael Heck of the host club.
Given the weather conditions, focus became a buzzword Bartkowski and Bolcavage. Coincidentally, it’s also a value one holds in high esteem for the other.
“I try to learn from his focus because he has the focus of a champion. As I’m standing over a shot, I can see a fly move across my face whereas his game is so focused,” Bartkowski said. “He’s also going to be the points leader [for AGA/GAP Senior Player of the Year], and I’m very happy to be able to contribute to that.”
Irem Country Club’s Jim Breck and George Elias won the Super-Senior Division (par 72, 5,554 yards) with a 3-over-par 75.
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.