HAVERTOWN, Pa. – Clayton Davidson didn’t experience the slightest discomfort when he stepped on the first tee for his Golf Association of Philadelphia Major debut.
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He wasn’t shaken by the fact that he had never traversed Llanerch Country Club before and wasn’t a GAP veteran.
“I didn’t feel any nerves at all on the first tee,” Davidson said. “I learned really quickly that the greens slope from back to front and if you are above the hole you will have a hard time trying to get up and down.”
Davidson, of West Shore Country Club, one of GAP’s newest additions through a partnership with the USGA, stayed calm and collected to post a 2-over-par 73 in the opening round of the 35th #GAPMidAm presented by Callaway Golf at Llanerch.
The expansion of GAP’s member clubs has come through specific Allied Golf Associations including Eastern Pennsylvania (to the center of the state) that included West Shore. The newly identified AGAs encourage collaboration among existing golf organizations within each state and region. These collaborations share ideas and practices to create programs that make a positive impact. .
This relationship will allow AGAs to provide a multitude of opportunities and a variety of competitive playing opportunities. The AGAs will also serve as local experts for education on modernizing golf’s rules and other governance.
Davidson is a prime example of what the merger has meant to Central Pennsylvania golfers and the overall excitement of having those extra playing opportunities.
“I am very fortunate that West Shore joined GAP and GAP has expanded their footprint,” Davidson, 46, of Harrisburg, Pa., said. “GAP offers so much to people who want to play in individual events. The tendency in the Central Pennsylvania area is to have too many better-ball events and not enough individual events. GAP offers more stroke play individual tournaments and gives you more tournaments to play in outside of the Pennsylvania State tournaments. I love to play in the Middle-Amateurs, and GAP offers another one.”
Although he is a rookie when it comes to GAP events, Davidson is far from new when it comes to playing competitively.
He is a two-time club champion at West Shore (2014, 2016) and played collegiately at Penn State University.
“The GAP events reminded me of how the Pennsylvania Golf Association runs its tournaments,” Davidson, a lawyer at McNeese Wallace and Nurick, LLC in Harrisburg, said. “It is very professional and there is a higher level of play, which I like and appreciate. That is why I play in a lot of the state events. Playing tougher courses expose weaknesses in your game, which is why I wanted to play in GAP events.”
At the day’s end, Davidson sits in a tie for eighth, three off the pace held by Radley Run Country Club’s Tom Grady and Little Mill Country Club’s Michael Hyland who both carded 1-under-par 70s. .
For Davidson, he will bank on his co-medal at a #GAPMidAm Qualifier on May 1 at Moselem Springs Golf Club and do what he does best, stay calm and prepare for the task ahead. .
“I just have to play my own game and let the chips fall where they may,” Davidson said. “What I have learned is that I can’t compete against the field, I have to play against myself. It is very difficult to control outcomes and birdies just happen. I am not focused on trying to make a score per se. I am trying to stay in the moment and if you hit a lot of greens you are going to play well.”
Day One scoring follows PGA Championship numbers
The first round of the 1958 PGA Championship played at Llanerch was a historical true test of the game. Today’s first round of the #GAPMidAm presented by Callaway Golf followed suit.
That PGA Championship, won by Dow Finsterwald, saw a field battle its way around the Havertown track, finishing with an opening-round average of 76.8. That ranks as the second single-highest round ever played in PGA Championship history.
Llanerch member Kevin McDermott, who carded a 3-over 74 today, sent this eye-opening intel over a post-round tweet to @GAofPhilly..
“Place is hard!!! Some things never change…,” tweeted McDermott (@KevinMcDKCM).
Today’s scoring average for the field? 80.2. That number translated to a cut line of 9-over 81.
“Conditions today were fair, but, wow, was tough it tough out there,” said Luis Diaz, who drained a five-foot par on No. 9 (par 5, 488 yards) to stay above the cut line. “I’ve never played the course because yesterday’s practice round was rained out. I had to focus on just hitting the ball well, but I still had my a few three putts.”
The day’s morning round battled gusting winds and soft conditions leading to slow roll. Afternoon players also faced challenges of gusts, but firmer conditions led to quick putting surfaces.
No. 10 (par 4, 442 yards) played as the hardest hole today with a scoring average of 4.87.
Birdie contest update
On May 22, the Association announced its annual #GAPMidAm presented by Callaway Golf Birdies Contest. The individual closest to the total number of birdies, without going over, will receive a gift package courtesy of Callaway Golf.
The tiebreaker will be the winning score, if necessary. A total of 80 submissions were messaged in across all of GAP’s social media platforms before the first group teed off at Llanerch.
After Day One, there were a total of 168 birdies. All of the submissions will be tracking each birdie tomorrow in the hopes of taking the home the great prize package from Callaway that includes a brand-new wedge.
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 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.