Apr 05, 2017

Robert Galbreath, Jr., four-time Junior Boys’ Champion, dies

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Juniors, News

The Golf Association of Philadelphia lost a great champion golfer and fine young man in Robert Galbreath, Jr., who died suddenly on April 2 at age 25.

Obituary |
  Galbreath set Association records that may never be matched; he won the Junior Boys’ Championship four times (2004-05, 2007-08) at ages 13, 14, 16 and 17. He was also the organization’s Junior Player of the Year in three of those years (2005-06, 2008). In 2006, Galbreath teamed with Eric Chipin to capture the Francis X Hussey Memorial. He won the 2007 Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Junior Championship at Penn National, shooting a two-day total of 5-under-par 139. Galbreath also tied for second in that organization’s Open Championship alongside four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Nathan Smith in 2008.

Galbreath was most proud of his play in the 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, when he advanced to the Round of 16 at Shoal Creek in Shoal Creek, Ala. He lost to PGA TOUR star Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, 6&5. In the event’s stroke play qualifier, Galbreath tied Patrick Reed at 139 and edged Jordan Spieth by a stroke. He also qualified for the 2006 U.S. Junior Amateur at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Galbreath took up the game at age 5, loving to ride in the golf cart with his father, Robert, Sr. He was a natural, with a swing that he could repeat time after time. He broke 40 for nine holes at age 8 and fired his first hole-in-one at age 10 on No. 2 at Philmont Country Club (South); many other aces followed over the years.

“Robbie was at Philmont every hour there was sunlight. We all got to watch his growth in terms of his golf talent. It was quite impressive,” Glenn Meyer, Philmont’s president and a GAP Executive Committee member, said. “The guys who had been at Philmont a long time were always in his corner, rooting him on and encouraging him. The result of his own work effort paid off.”

Galbreath, who played golf for Nova Southeastern University and Villanova University, was a tenacious competitor, as local Juniors soon found out. He won his first GAP Junior Boys’ title at Philmont (South). Standing 3-down with five holes to go against James Kania, Jr., Galbreath made four birdies down the stretch for a 1-up victory. Robert Robertson, who fell to Galbreath in the 2007 Junior Boys’ Final at Cavaliers Country Club, tabbed Galbreath as “the guy to beat” in Junior golf.

“I vividly remember the match we had. We went down to the 18th hole, and it was one of the best matches I’ve ever been a part of,” Robertson said. “He was aggressive in match play. There were a lot of emotions when I played with him; he didn’t really hold anything back, which I respected. He kind of said what was on his mind and showed it through his emotions on the golf course. He was a fiery competitor.”

Off the course, Galbreath could be found on the practice range, finetuning his game and helping many members at Philmont and Huntingdon Valley Country Club.

“I watched Robbie grow up and we hit lots of balls together on the range over the last 20 years,” Bobbie Rose, a 101-year-old Philmont member, said. “He was always so helpful and more than that, was so courteous and respectful to all his elders. He was like part of the Rose family (Bonnie, Michael and Sally) and I feel this loss so much. Just heartbreaking.”

Galbreath was the son of Nancy and Robert Galbreath, Sr. and brother of Evan and Daniel.

In lieu of flowers and in Galbreath’s memory, contributions may be made to the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust Fund, 1974 Sproul Road, Suite 400, Broomall, PA 19008.

Mike Rose contributed to this story.

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 153 Full Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. 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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