NOTEBOOK: #GAPMidAm Day 1 - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

May 24, 2017


VILLANOVA, Pa. – Golf Association of Philadelphia competition has become a rather friendly confine for the likes of local collegiate programs during their offseason. The influx of young talent is always a welcome addition to the tee sheets, and at the same time, provides that same talent another platform to showcase themselves on a regional scale.

Day 1 Recap | Scorecards | Round 2 tee times | History | Day 1 Video |
  Take Drexel University, for instance. One look at a GAP leaderboard – including today’s Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf – you’ll understand why.

So much so, the current team – and their large alumni base of GAP regulars – created a social media hashtag to make their presence known. And it’s catching fire.   On a road trip to California last season, the Drexel team, out of coincidence, ran into a few Dragon alum along the way. That’s when an Instagram post from one of the players surfaced equipped with #DragonsEverywhere.

“It’s just kind of something that we liked and ran with it. It’s attached to pretty much everything we put out now,” said Ben Feld, head coach of Drexel’s Men’s team. “It represents the feeling that our brand is growing, especially here in Philly. Just looking up at the scores today, it just goes to show you that we’ve got a community feel in our program.”

“We normally just say it out loud to each other. It’s just fun for us,” said Yoseph Dance, a graduating Drexel senior who was on the bag for former Dragon Billy Reube today. “When we’re on the bus, our coaches will scream, ‘DRAGONS EVERYWHERE!’”

Absolutely everywhere.

Feld is by title the program’s leader. An army of Dragons follow in his GAP footsteps regularly. Graduates of Drexel in today’s field included Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Michael Carr and Joe April, Rancocas Golf Club’s Adam Bracy, Tavistock Country Club’s Adam Warner, in addition to Feld and Reube.

A year ago, during the week of the Middle-Amateur at Waynesborough Country Club, Feld was hired to his current role. He’s instilled a fresh, winning feel into his program that has has garnered support across the board; from players to coaches to family and faculty. Some might say the Dragons’ fire is beginning to ignite, if it hasn’t already.

“There is a more sense of seriousness nowadays. It’s a new level that Drexel has taken and it’s exciting to be involved with that,” said Reube, Feld’s college roommate, who finished 8-over today at Overbrook. “I’ve become a donor of the University now, helping them out with stuff when they need it. It’s great to give back to the guys knowing they are taking this thing for real.”

A prominent GAP connection the team boasts is another Association stalwart, Spring Mill Country Club’s Christopher Crawford, who serves on the staff as an assistant coach. Crawford’s inclusion, the 2015 Joseph H. Patterson Cup Champion and 2016 U.S. Open participant, is another example of the optimistic direction Drexel is headed.

“Chris is basically there to bring us to the next level of competition. He plays beside us in qualifiers, he’s always around us when we’re practicing,” said Dance. “But really, what he brings to the table, is his strong mental game. He really helps us out with that.”

Stemming off what Feld calls “an overall successful spring season”, the Dragons – including their seemingly endless alumni base – will deploy their best to compete for GAP hardware.

“These events are so phenomenal and always at tremendous venues, like Overbrook. With Drexel, we play a ton of events in college, but none of them have this refined feel,” said Feld. “And while we’re here, we’ll wear the Dragon proud.”

James’ weight loss is game’s gain

The last couple of months have produced a much healthier Rod James.

The Lenhartsville, Pa. native lost 30 pounds after placing an emphasis on his health in the fall. James started putting himself on a strict calories diet to begin the lifestyle change.

“I had to lose the weight,” said James. “PGA Director of Golf at Moselem Springs Golf Club Eric Shillinger gave me his fitness palate of 2,000 calories a day and I stuck to it pretty good late fall of 2016. I have maintained it since Thanksgiving, which is good because I usually gain weight in the winter. I am 255 pounds now, I would like to get to 220.”

James, 47, of Five Ponds Golf Club, shot an opening round of 3-over-par 73 in the first round of the 34th Middle-Amateur at Overbrook.

This weight loss has been good for his overall golf game. James said it has allowed him to hit the ball 30 yards longer off the tee. A new TaylorMade M1 driver in the bag, that he fit himself for, has him hitting it farther than he did all of last year.

James rode the good memories of his victory with Perry Landis in the Berks County Golf Association’s Junior-Senior Championship on May 18 to help him get off to a good start Thursday at Overbrook. The duo shot a 7-under-par 65 at Galen Hall Golf Club to win by two strokes.

“Honestly, I didn’t hit it that good last Thursday,” said James. “Perry played great. We each made four birdies but I was out of a lot of the holes, which isn’t good. For the little I have played this year, I have been hitting the ball pretty well.”

James got off to a solid start by birdieing the par-4, 348-yard fourth after misjudging the amount of fairway off the tee. He worked a 6-iron into the green and drained a 12-footer down the hill.

He would turn in 1-under-par 34 after three-putting the par-4, 448-yard ninth for bogey. A bogey James said killed some of the momentum he gained on the front nine after birdieing two of his first seven holes including a beautiful 5-iron on the par-3, 202-yard seventh that he would convert for birdie with another 12-footer.

James said he felt pretty good heading into the par-3, 15th, measuring at 158 yards. But James said a double-crossed 6-iron, left him short-sided and resulted in a double-bogey.

His round finished with a bogey on the par-4, 401-yard 18th after missing an 8-footer for par after putting to there from the left approach. For not playing too much this year, James was ultimately pleased with his play.

“All in all, I am happy with how I played,” said James. “It is early in the year. 73 isn’t great but it will get me here tomorrow.”

Callaway Golf
Callaway Golf was founded in 1982 by the late Ely Callaway, a visionary entrepreneur who operated under a simple but profound business promise: Deliver Demonstrably Superior, Pleasingly Different products and services. That philosophy turned what was originally a boutique manufacturer of high-quality wedges and putters into the world’s largest maker of premium, performance golf products. The Callaway mission and vision has remained the same; we passionately pursue advanced, innovative technologies that help golfers of all abilities find more enjoyment from the game. Under the Callaway and Odyssey brands, Callaway manufactures and sells golf clubs and golf balls, and sells golf apparel, footwear and accessories in more than 110 countries worldwide.

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 151 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of 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.

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