June 12, 2018
Mother Nature can sometimes be a thick thorn in the side of any golf course superintendent.
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Its unpredictability can lead to long shifts and extra-long hours.
But two days before the oldest regional amateur golf championship, it can create chaos.
For Golf Course Superintendents Drew Goehler, of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club, and Sean Remington, of Green Valley Country Club, a heavy rainfall doesn’t change their approach.
Whitemarsh Valley received a total of 1.6 inches of rain on Sunday, June 10 and Green Valley received close to three inches that same day, two days before the beginning of the 118th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship.
“The weather has definitely has been difficult but its been the story of this spring,” said Goehler, of Havertown, Pa. “We’ve just been pounded and we have only had two or three good weekends so far this year. There are about four or five guys who have been here for close to 30 years so they know how to respond to weather like this. We were lucky to not get as much rain as other courses did.”
Goehler has 14 other members on his staff and Remington has 15. All needed to put in yeoman’s work to be ready for the start of play Tuesday.
“All of our crew was out here after the storm,” said Remington who has been at Green Valley since 2000. “It was nothing but bunkers. Tuesday morning we were only able to roll greens. At 10 a.m. on Monday morning, we still had standing water on those greens. I felt bad we couldn’t do more, but we did the best we could for the players out here. Our Member-Guest is this Friday, and we had a schedule all set up, and it was looking and playing great. But the rain was too much, unfortunately.
“Our course isn’t as modern as some. Our drainage isn’t as new as some courses around the area who are able to drain bunkers. Our sand is old, the drainage is old so we need to tend to it more. If we had those newer bunkers, we would have been able to focus more on the finer details like trimming, etc. But we still wouldn’t have mowed either way.”
Goehler, 29, has a good amount of experience in the area for his age. He spent four years at Philadelphia Cricket Club including one as the Superintendent of the Wissahickon Course (2014): the same course that hosted last year’s #BMWPhillyAm.
Before coming to Whitemarsh Valley this past January, Goehler spent two years at Old York Road Country Club.
Throughout the last few years, Whitemarsh Valley has spent $1 million on flood remediation and drainage work, which Goehler said pays dividends in time-crunching situations.
“The focus after a storm is the greens,” said Goehler. “You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot either by mowing them too soon before they are ready to be cut. We didn’t want to force the issue by rolling them or cutting them too much. We can’t control the weather. It’s planning on what is going to benefit you in the long run and putting your ego aside.”
For the last few weeks, both staffs have been carefully planning their maintenance schedules in preparation for one of the biggest events on their schedules this week.
“I want the golf course to be firm and fast,” said Goehler about his goals for this week. “I want a fair test of golf but challenging as well. You want to be able to put a really good product out there since there were some really good courses that hosted this event recently. It comes down to making the membership proud.”
GAP’s expansion brings in more Major talent
In early January, the United States Golf Association tapped GAP as an Allied Golf Association to help strengthen the golfer experience at the state and local levels.
This allowed the Association to expand its reach in Central Pennsylvania as well as Northeast Pennsylvania. Adding a whole new brand and locale of players it hadn’t attracted before.
This week in the #BMWPhillyAm, 72 different GAP member clubs are represented out of the 260 total member clubs under the Association’s umbrella.
“Having more clubs represented allows for a much better tournament,” said GAP President T. Quinn Spitzer. “Now we are getting all of the best golfers in Eastern Pennsylvania as opposed to just the Philadelphia area. It’s nice to know the Central Pennsylvania and the Northeast Pennsylvania players are getting in their cars and driving down here to play in the golf tournaments. It’s fantastic.”
Young prospects emerge in match-play bracket
Six of the top 11 seeds in the match-play bracket are either collegiate or incoming-collegiate players. That speaks a strong testament to the up-and-coming talent in the region.
“It’s great to see all of us young guys making noise and making match play,” said Spring Ford Country Club’s Ryan Tall, the No. 10 seed. “That’s not to speak down about the older amateurs – they are awesome players. It’s just cool to see guys, like people I’ve played against in GAP Junior competitions, playing well in an event like the [BMW Philadelphia Amateur].”
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 260 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.