RINGOES, Pa. – On an early morning in 1998, Joel Moore woke his wife, Pam, and shared news with her that would change both of their lives forever.
“I woke up one day and told my wife, ‘I’m going to build a Tom Fazio-designed private golf course and I’m going to do it right’,” said Joel. “And, knock on wood, it turned out the way we hoped.”
If the Moore’s desired dream club was one that would eventually be named one of the best private courses in the nation, according to Golf Digest, then missioned accomplished.
Their award-winning club, The Ridge at Back Brook, also happens to be the host site of today’s 112th Golf Association of Philadelphia Open Championship. Its unique name derives from hours of research spent surrounding two of the course’s main features – its ridge and its back brook, which meanders through nine of the 18 holes.
“We spent plenty of time looking at names around the region, and plenty have either of those in their names, but none of them had both. We do, so it was a perfect fit,” said Pam Moore.
The Ridge opened in late summer of 2002, and it was soon thereafter recognized by Golf Digest, in 2003, as the second-best new course east of the Mississippi and sixth best new course in the states.
More recently in 2010, The Ridge was named the eighth best private club in the country by GolfWorld.
“This is a great piece of land. Tom Fazio did a fantastic job of selecting the holes. He had free reign to do that,” said Joel. “What we’re really proud about is that there are 18 unique golf holes. He really used the land to his benefit to get a totally wonderful golf course. It’s maintained and it is manicured edge-to-edge, which is our philosophy.”
Moore’s plan came to fruition after setting out on his own to form a club that possessed a focal point solely on the game. The club today is one that provides members with tournament-like conditions on a daily basis.
And now, The Ridge is the Moore’s daily passion.
“This place means everything to me, to us and our members. We wanted to be a part of golf history, and here we are,” said Pam.
The Ridge at Back Brook hosted the Association’s Junior Boys’ Championship in 2013. Joel is a firm believer in private clubs in the area opening their doors to allow access to local golfers.
“The players are great; it’s such a joy to watch such good golfers,” said Joel. “[The GAP] treats players like it’s their day – it’s similar to the PGA Tour’s conditions and atmosphere. We’re pleased to host the event and we’ve loved having the Open here today.”
Baltimore transplant Bershad weighs pro decision
To go pro or not to go pro? That is Ben Bershad’s question.
But no need to rush him – he still doesn’t have an answer, and he’s enjoying life while finding it.
“I’m just focusing on my game at this point. I’m taking this summer to see where my game ends up and reassess from there,” said Bershad, a Rutgers University graduate. “I honestly haven’t played tournament golf these past few years. I think I’ve been exceeding my expectations a little bit, but it’s a whole different animal.”
It’s a tough decision, but his game has been doing everything in its power to make it an easier one.
The Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club member posted rounds of 72 and 76 en route to a 6-over total 148 at The Ridge, good enough for a Top 10 finish.
“It was hot, but I made it,” he said. “I was able to give myself a bunch of good looks. In Round Two, I was only able to get aggressive a few times, but overall, I’m happy with how today went.”
Bershad shined in his Open Qualifer appearance at Indian Valley Country Club. He fired a 1-over-par 73, which earned him a share of co-medalist honors.
Earlier this year, he posted a Top 20 finish in the New Jersey State Golf Association’s Amateur Championship and nearly advanced to match play in the BMW Philadelphia Amateur at Merion Golf Club. Bershad fell in a six-for-three playoff there.
The 27-year-old is splitting his time between his Hopewell Valley, N.J. home and Baltimore – a city he knows more than well. His fiancé resides there, and so does his former employer, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.
At the end of the summer, Bershad will make the ultimate call to go pro or not. Until then, he’ll enjoy today’s Top 10 finish and go home a happy man.
Tavistock’s Matthias takes low-pro prize
Greg Matthias of Tavistock Country Club earned low-pro honors in the Open Championship Monday at The Ridge. Matthias, an assistant professional at Tavistock, fired a 4-over-par 146 (71-75) to finish in a tie for fifth place.
He took home the event’s $7,000 top prize.
“I’ve never played here before,” said Matthias, 26, of Haddonfield, N.J. “It can really penalize you if you miss even a little bit. I really hung in there, especially coming down the back nine. I was 6 over for the tournament and fought it back to 4 over to win by one. I hung in there all day.”
Matthias graduated from the University of Delaware in 2012. Currently in his second season at Tavistock, he previously spent a season at Brandywine Country Club in Wilmington, Del. The last two winters, Matthias caddied and worked at Old Marsh Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Last fall, he competed in the 39th PGA National Car Rental Assistant Championship at the Wannamaker Course at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
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.