By Rick Woelfel
Philadelphia Golf Magazine
The Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Patterson Cup tests the body and mind of the players as well as their skill. The requirements are straightforward: face off against the top players in the region for 36 holes of stroke play in a single day.
On Aug. 10 both courses at Philmont Country Club (North/South) will be full as the Cup is contested for the 104th time to determine GAP’s stroke-play champion. The Cup will also conclude the 100th Silver Cross competition; the two rounds of the Patterson Cup will be combined with the qualifying rounds of the Philadelphia Amateur Championship to determine the Silver Cross winner.
Last year, Merion’s Tug Maude defeated Conrad Von Borsig of Concord in an 18-hole playoff over Von Borsig’s home course after both tied at 138 for18 holes each at Concord and Radley Run. Maude went on to win GAP Player of the Year honors.
John Sawin (Philadelphia Country), who wound up tied for third with Billy Stewart (Llanerch), just one stroke behind Maude and Von Borsig, won the Silver Cross.
Two new champions will be crowned this year. Maude has turned professional, and Sawin, who is entering his senior year at Princeton, did not compete in the Philadelphia Amateur and is thus ineligible for the Silver Cross.
That doesn’t mean he is any less intent on winning the Patterson Cup. Sawin was so focused in preparing for his final exams as well as the end of his college golf season that he neglected to submit his entry for the Philadelphia Amateur before the deadline. He hasn’t played as much golf this summer as he normally does because he is fulfilling an internship in the finance industry.
“I really want to focus on the events I am playing in like the Patterson Cup and the Philadelphia Open,” he says.
Sawin thinks stroke play is a more demanding mental test than match play. “I feel there’s a lot more pressure in stroke play,” he says. “Stroke play is a good test of consistency, which is a strength of my game.”
Sawin ‘s only experience playing Philmont came in the 2003 Philadelphia Amateur. But he’s hoping that his stamina and conditioning will make up for his lack of familiarity with the venue, particularly in the heat of August.
“I love the heat,” Sawin says, “The hotter the better. Being a young guy, I figure I can handle it better than a lot of other people can.”
Completing 36 holes in a single day isn’t a problem for Sawin either. He has done it regularly in college. “Playing 36 holes is a great mental test, as well as a physical test,” he says. “If you’re playing well, you can really get in a rhythm.”
This year’s Patterson Cup winner will join a list of former champions that includes the greatest names in the history of Philadelphia golf. Bill Hyndman III won the Cup a record 10 times between 1946 and 1969, including three straight wins from 1962-64. He won back-to-back Cups on three other occasions.
Jay Sigel won five Patterson Cups, Max Marston and J. Wood Platt four each.
This will mark the ninth time the tournament has been conducted at Philmont. The last time was 1979 when future professional Gary Deetscreek, who was playing out of Old York Road, shot 146 for the 36 holes over Huntingdon Valley and Philmont’s North Course. The last time both Philmont Courses were used for the Cup was 1939 when W.B. McCullough of Huntingdon Valley triumphed with a 146 total.
The Patterson Cup is named for Joseph Patterson, a member of Philadelphia Cricket Club in the 19th century. After his death, his friends donated a trophy in his memory. The Patterson Cup has been played annually since 1900, save for interruptions because of the two World Wars. For many years the tournament was played on Memorial Day.