HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa. – Roland Massimino loudly wears his Kansas State University pride, literally and figuratively.
The rising sophomore’s normal, competitive attire always has plenty of the school’s signature royal purple involved. And it doesn’t stop there. His golf bag, driver shaft and head covers all scream, “Go Wildcats.”
Today marked the last off-season event for The Ridge at Back Brook’s Massimino before he heads back to school in one week. He made the most of it thanks to a 3-under-par 67 round, which was tied for the lowest on the day and earned him sole possession of third place in the last GAP Major of the year.
“I came out firing on the front nine. The longest putt I had was 25 feet, and other than that [attempt], the longest one I had wasn’t outside of 10 feet,” said Massimino, of Lumberville, Pa. “I was just hitting the ball so well.”
That he was. In total, he rolled in five birdies and eagle. Unfortunate, bogey slip-ups on Nos. 16 (par 4, 399 yards) and 17 (par 3, 211 yards) eventually cost him, but overall, he says it was a good way to finish off his summer.
“It fell apart a little bit there [at the end], so that was disappointing because it could have been better overall,” said the 19-year-old. “I’m very excited to get back down to school now. We can’t start practicing until the first day of classes, which is Aug. 22, but we’ll practice hard for three weeks and try and get back into the grind of things.”
The future looks good for the Wildcats, and Massimino, who competed in three individual events and one team event, with a stroke average of 74.75, during his freshman campaign. The Wildcats finished last year ranked as the 78th best team in the nation. Massimino said the squad’s goal is to make a jump in the rankings in order to earn a bid to the NCAA Regionals.
“I think we’re going to be really solid next season. We’ve got a couple good players returning, and some really good guys coming in,” he said. “We’ll make it pretty far.”
Joining Massimino at Kansas State in the fall of 2017 will be Kyle Vance, the 2015 GAP Junior Boys’ Champion who recently committed to the program. Massimino was crucial throughout that process.
“I knew him decently well, because we’ve played in a couple of GAP tournaments together (Vance defeated Massimino in the semifinals en route to his Junior Boys’ title last year). The coaches recruited him, and he approached me, asking how I liked the school. I told him how great it was,” said Massimino, who also won a Junior Boys’ title in 2013 at his home club. “He came out to visit – he actually came out for the Baylor-Kansas State football game – which I think convinced him to come because he committed the next day. I’m real excited for him to get down there to help us out.”
Massimino is no stranger to winning ways. One look at his first and last name – one very familiar to the Philadelphia region – is a strong indication of his championship pedigree.
His grandfather, Rollie, was the beloved college basketball coach of the 1985 Villanova Wildcats.
“Everyone in the family was down [in Houston, Texas] when they won the title. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there, because of golf,” said the younger Massimino. “I saw him last weekend down the shore (in Avalon, N.J.) and he’s just really happy about Villanova’s success. It was a very similar run to their run in 1985, because they were both underdogs in the championship game.”
When poised with the difficult choice, Massimino played it safe by claiming his true fanhood lies in both courts.
“That’s tough. I’d love to see Kansas State be good in basketball, but it’s always great to come back to Villanova for obvious reasons.”
Sullivan returns to Huntingdon Valley roots
Jim Sullivan, Jr.’s appearance in the Patterson Cup not only marked a return to GAP Majors, but a return to his former club.
Sullivan has not played in an Association Major since the 2007 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship at Applebrook Golf Club. Since then, Sullivan has underwent some life changes, including starting a family and leaving Huntingdon Valley for Lu Lu Country Club. He still holds fond memories of his old club.
“It’s always a treat to play in tournaments here,” said Sullivan, 41, of Glenside, Pa. “We’ve always hosted a lot of events here. We’ve always had a chance to play a lot here. The course is absolutely incredible.”
While at Huntingdon Valley, Sullivan won the Club Championship in 1997. His father, James E. Sullivan, Sr. has three club titles to his name. Four kids, ranging in ages from 9 to 13, and a job in sales with ADP have kept him off tournament leaderboards. Sullivan has been working on his game in recent years, and marked this event on his calendar when he found out it would return to his former stomping grounds.
“I’ve been itching to get competitive again and I’ve been working at it for a couple of years,” Sullivan said. “Having the tournament here was most of the motivation for wanting to practice and working hard at it, and actually doing it.”
Sullivan fired a 2-over-par 72 in his homecoming on Day 1, safely making the cut for Day 2. Today, he shot a 6-over-par 76 to finish the tournament at 148, putting him in a tie for 25th. Despite the end result, Sullivan has found the positives in his game.
“To really not play in any sort of competition in six to eight years is tough,” Sullivan said. “I played well yesterday; I didn’t play very well today. Soft conditions here are about as easy as it gets.”
At Lu Lu, Sullivan has found more time to practice and play. He’s enjoyed the change of scenery, but has thought about returning to Huntingdon Valley, the place where he spent most of his golf life.
“It’s something that would be a goal in the next couple of years,” Sullivan said. “To try and get myself in a position to do it would be absolutely great. At the same time, I’m enjoying my time at Lu Lu. It’s a great place. The place is really doing well, the course is in great shape, and there’s a great group of guys there.”
Sullivan’s goal of one day returning to Huntingdon Valley is joined with the game plan of competing in more Association events in the next few years. In the meantime, Sullivan will settle for everything that being a father entails.
“[I’ll] probably end up coaching soccer and watching field hockey games and going to track meets,” said Sullivan. “I’ll try to continue playing, and will really try and play well and play a good amount next year.”
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.