Two fresh faces — and two familiar ones — will vie for the Golf Association of Philadelphia Team Matches crown this Saturday in the Division AA Playoff.
Glenmaura National GC, Huntingdon Valley CC, Mercer Oaks GC and Merion GC all clinched a Playoff spot by posting Week 3 victories to remain undefeated. Now, seasoned and raw pedigrees will collide. Huntingdon Valley and Merion hold 35 Team Matches titles between the two. Glenmaura National and Mercer Oaks are each seeking their first.
Will the veterans add another trophy to the mantle, or will the rookies carve a place in Team Matches history? For Glenmaura National, the opportunity that awaits is remarkable.
“It’s just tremendous. The team is very excited to have the opportunity to play in an event of this magnitude,” Matt Dougherty, Glenmaura National’s captain, said. “Being a club from the northeast (region), it shows there are players and clubs up here that can compete at this level.”
After upending Commonwealth National GC (1-2) in Week 2, Glenmaura National needed a win over Philadelphia CC (0-3) to clinch a Playoff spot. It attained that victory in convincing fashion, 79.25-2.50.
“We didn’t expect that we would be that dominant, but we’ll take a win,” Dougherty said. “We knew that if we didn’t focus and work hard, we could certainly lose. We were very happy with the result.”
Christian Davis, as well as Chas and Stephen Hudacek, again turned in strong performances for Glenmaura National. Davis and Chas Hudacek logged 3.5 better-ball points while Stephen Hudacek, III stayed hot with a sizzling five individual points. He leads the team in scoring with 21.75 points through three weeks. Also, Nicholas Reach, a semifinalist in the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur, contributed 5.25 points to the win over Philadelphia CC.
“I think we just all really played well,” Dougherty said. “We have a core group who are consistently there each week. They’ve committed themselves to the Team Matches. It makes it difficult for teams to match up with the depth we have. I think it makes a big difference.”
Like Glenmaura National, Huntingdon Valley’s depth proved integral to its success this year. The team defeated Rolling Green (0-3), 53.25-18.25, to claim a Playoff spot.
“Once again, we were balanced across the board,” HVCC captain Douglas Gregor said. “It was a good win.”
In the victory, Michael Dougherty and Mike Lambert posted 4.75 better-ball points at Huntingdon Valley. Daniel Pinciotti, Jr. and Charles Scalzott registered 5.25 better-ball points for the visiting squad. Overall, Huntingdon Valley has earned more than 20 points on the road over the past two weeks.
“We have a couple of players who can play well anywhere,” Gregor said.
Huntingdon Valley now hopes to build upon its Team-Matches record 31 titles.
“We’re excited to be in the Playoff,” Gregor said. “We think we are an underdog. We’ll see what happens Saturday.”
In Section 2, Mercer Oaks edged Blue Bell CC (0-3), 38-27.75, in Week 3 to gain a Playoff berth.
“We expected a good match, and got it. We knew they were going to be formidable,” Mercer Oaks captain Jim Schulz, Jr. said. “Our keys again were good wins in better-balls.”
The pairings clicked, and players excelled in critical matches both home and away. Prior to Sunday’s match, Mercer Oaks made a few changes to its line-up. One of the team’s top players, Louis Giovi, couldn’t play, so John Giori filled the first spot at home and posted 2.25 individual points. Schulz, who sat out the previous two weeks with a back injury, returned and earned a stern 5.25 individual points.
“It’s nice to come out and play a good game. In the four-spot, that helped a lot,” he said.
Now, Mercer Oaks stands one step away from making history. If the club wins on Saturday, it will be the first municipally-owned club to seize the Team Matches title. Needless to say, Mercer Oaks and its players feel “overjoyed.”
“We were excited and very satisfied,” Schulz said. “We started this journey four years ago. We had our eye on this Saturday: to get into the championship in AA. We’re fortunate that we’ve had our success in this environment.”
“We’re really looking forward to the championship. We think our guys pair up well.”
Merion will occupy the fourth and final Playoff spot in Division AA after its 44.50-25.75 win over Moselem Springs (1-2) in Week 3.
“It was great to finish it off yesterday,” Merion’s captain Michael McDermott said. “We’re excited for the final.”
Merion earned 33.75 of its 44.50 points at home. Newcomers Patrick Knott and Mark Still, as well as Bill Charpak and J. Kirk Luntey, each turned in strong performances for the team. Charpak and Luntey collaborated to nab five better-ball points while Knott and Still posted four of their own.
“We knew we had to play well at home,” McDermott said. “The away team deserved a little credit, too. They kept it close playing a great, tough golf course.”
Merion’s last AA Playoff appearance came in 2003, when the club won the title by .25 points. McDermott, who at that time played for fellow Playoff participant Llanerch CC, knows that Merion needs to have the right pieces in place in order to capture its fifth Team Matches title.
“We’ve had sort of a rotating door in our line-up so far,” McDermott said. “We have a lot of good players and fortunately, we have depth.”
The GAP Team Matches Playoff begins at noon. The format is individual match play with 12 total players competing from each club. Three-man teams from each club play at the four sites with each individual match worth three points. An additional quarter point is awarded for margin of victory.