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Elite Series #1: North Hills

Haze doesn’t faze golfers’ craze for competition

GLENSIDE, Pa. — Getting out of bed on a Monday morning is a chore for most collegians. A misty Monday morning on a chilly fall day reinforces the inclination to stay snug under the sheets.

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But for 20 younger golfers, competition — albeit amid a dreary drizzle — demanded rise-and-shine. Participants wiped the haze from their eyes and swiped their sticks during Elite Series #1 at North Hills Country Club (par 71, 6,509 yards).

GAP created the Elite Series, open to players 18-24 years of age, in an effort to fill a competitive void created by the cancelation of college golf seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The format is 18-hole individual stroke play.

“This was my first golf tournament actually. I came out for fun,” Alec Bantivoglio, a fifth-year senior majoring in media studies and production at Temple University, said. “I just felt like getting out. I’m not doing anything besides school right now. I thought it’d be a good time to start playing.”

For some, a soft and saturated baptism into the tournament realm. For others, a pleasant reconciliation for a lost fall campaign.

“It was definitely disappointing but not entirely unexpected. Since the season was canceled, it’s good the GAP created the Elite Series,” Liam Hart, a sophomore majoring in business at Drexel University, said. “We found other individual events that our team has been able to play in. We’re making the best of it.”

Hart, 19, of Holland, Pa., made the best of a soggy situation Monday. He carded a 2-over-par 73 to finish tied atop the Men’s Division leaderboard alongside fellow Dragon Alex Butler and Timothy Cooper.

In a match of cards, Butler, a LuLu Country Club member, prevailed. He and Hart inked matching 35s on the back nine. Butler gained the nod once the tiebreaker went hole-by-hole, starting with No. 18 (par 4, 345 yards). GAP uses the USGA-recommended scorecard tiebreaking method.

“It was fun. I’m glad Liam and I were able to get up to the top of the leaderboard,” Butler, 22, of Philadelphia, Pa., said. “I just wanted to compete and get a good round in. It’s been tough to find competition [given the COVID-19 pandemic]. I’m glad I was able to come out here.”

A flip wedge to a foot for birdie on No. 10 (par 4, 326 yards) allowed Butler, who is in his fifth year at Drexel studying finance, to find his North Hills footing. He also birdied No. 12 (par 5, 536 yards) by knocking a wedge 50 yards to 10 feet.

Allison Cooper-Wix won the event’s Female Division (par 71, 5,739 yards) title. She, too, carded a 2-over-par 73.

Cooper-Wix traveled with her brother, the aforementioned Timothy, from Harrisburg, Pa. to compete.

“GAP recently announced it was having the Elite Series, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to play some nice courses,” Cooper-Wix, 24, said. “As of this fall, I’m trying to commit more time to golf now. I want to play in a lot of events next year.”

When she isn’t on the golf course, Cooper-Wix operates her own pet-sitting business. Timothy, 21, owns a landscaping business. Both will carpool to Elite Series #2, set for Nov. 3 at Saucon Valley Country Club (Weyhill).

GAP
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.

Results
Men’s Division
Name, cityScore
*Alex Butler, Norristown, Pa.73
Timothy Cooper, Harrisburg, Pa73
Liam Hart, Holland, Pa.73
Tyler McGarry, Pittston, Pa.74
Angelo Giantsopoulos, Philadelphia, Pa.75
Nicholas Vecellio, Fogelsville, Pa.75
Gerald Haftmann, Springfield, Pa.76
Caleb Ryan, Norristown, Pa.76
Benjamin Pochet, Royersford, Pa.78
Andrew Wallace, Narberth, Pa.79
Kyung Hwan Chung, Reading, Pa.82
Shawn Blandine, Ringwood, N.J.84
R.J. Wren, Morgantown, Pa.84
Greg Welsh, Ambler, Pa.85
Nick Hano, Warrington, Pa.87
Aaron Tobin, Philadelphia, Pa.89
Karsyn Wright, Carbondale, Pa.90
Thomas Nadolski, Flourtown, Pa.93
Alec Bantivoglio, Voorhees, N.J.96
Stephen Cerbara, Langhorne, Pa.WD
Female Division
Allison Cooper-Wix, Harrisburg, Pa.73
* — won in scorecard playoff
WD — withdrawal