A mild winter led to an extraordinary opportunity for the Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine. Staff members Marty Emeno and Tony Regina were invited by Pine Valley to witness one of the club’s many environmental stewardship efforts: a prescribed fire. I gave the two a look when they told me the details, but as you’ll read, fire is a necessary element in keeping Pine Valley, Pine Valley. You’ll also learn that there are a number of other Member Clubs implementing forest management plans. Hopefully, you’ll see the forest from the tees with a new appreciation.
Also in South Jersey, longtime member Moorestown Field Club celebrates its 125th birthday. Moorestown was founded as an enclave of Friends by the Quakers, who believed wholesome physical activity was good for the soul. Reading about the club’s upbringing was fascinating. Emlen Stokes, and, especially his wife Lydia, who saved the club, were true stewards of the game.
The Association shepherds the game these days in many ways, including the season-opening BMW GAP Team Matches. This year the organization’s founding event turns 117 and sees a record number of teams (336) and Member Clubs (139) competing on three Sundays starting April 23. Good luck to all the players. Hit your drives long and straight, keep your ball in the fairway, make all your putts, but remember these Matches are about the camaraderie on the course and in the 19th hole afterward.
Another great line-up of courses awaits our tournament players. Overbrook Golf Club starts the 2017 Major season in late May as host of the 34th Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf. Philadelphia Cricket Club, one of the Association’s founders, follows with the 117th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship. Cricket has gained national notoriety in recent years as the backdrop for the PGA Professional National Championship and PGA Tour Champions Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS. Another original Member Club, Philadelphia Country Club, brings us the 113th Open Championship complete with a new two-day format (18 holes a day). The field expanded from 78 to 132 players. A cut takes place after Round 1 with the low 60 players and ties advancing onto Day 2. The 115th Joseph H. Patterson Cup heads to Wilmington Country Club (South) for the first time since 2001. Furthermore, the GAP administers 10 USGA Qualifiers, including, for the first time, the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Qualifier. That will be held Aug. 16 at Concord Country Club.
We’ll address the aforementioned, and many more Association services, on the airwaves this year. The Association partnered with “Inside Golf” for 2017, the longtime weekly television show airing on Comcast SportsNet and The Comcast Network. We will present a regular GAP segment on the show, so make sure to tune in. Thanks to “Inside Golf” for the opportunity to highlight our organization on the television screen.
By now, you’ve probably seen the proposed Rules of Golf changes announced in early-March by the USGA and R&A. They are asking that over the next six months golfers contact them with their comments and suggestions. Congratulations to golf’s governing bodies for making an effort to simplify the Rules.
Stewardship comes in many forms. Whether it’s in the forest, on the first tee or at the Rules roundtable, we are all obligated to preserve this game for future generations. Don’t let those flames extinguish.