#BMWGTM Challenge Matches: three teams level up - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

May 16, 2023

#BMWGTM Challenge Matches: three teams level up

Saucon Valley, Overbrook and DuPont earn way back to AA

For the past year, Saucon Valley Country Club wanted another chance.

| Challenge Results |

A 2022 Challenge Match loss to North Hills Country Club (32.5-21.5) demoted Saucon Valley from Division AA to Division A.

But the BMW GAP Team Match gods were in their corner. By chance, they matched up against North Hills again this year.

Saucon Valley’s squad returned to the top division thanks to a strong team performance and a 35-19 victory against North Hills on May 13.

“We’ve worked hard all year for an opportunity to earn our way back into Division AA,” Saucon Valley team captain Keith Durocher, 64, of Bethlehem, Pa., said. “Our goal now is to be able to maintain our status in AA. We have been going back and forth the last couple of years.

“It was an opportunity to redeem ourselves. We called ourselves the ‘redeem team’ because Makefield Highlands Golf Club was also in our section as well and they knocked us out a few years back. The guys played great.”

A key to Saucon Valley’s success this season was its dominance on the road and at home. They didn’t lose a match this season in either locale. Saturday was no different. It won 18-10 at home and 17-9 on the road.

“One of our goals was to win each of our matches at home and on the road,” Durocher said. “From week-to-week it depends on the draw you get because anyone can beat anyone on a given day. I always try to tell the guys to hang in there and try to scrap out points when you aren’t having your best day. You never know when a point is all the difference.”

Saucon Valley has hosted national championships and had members who won GAP Majors. But they are still looking for an elusive BMW GAP Team Matches title.

“At Saucon Valley, we strive to have a team that spans many age groups,” Durocher said. “Being able to have a team of many generations that work well as a team offers a sense of pride for our club. This year I have to tip my cap to the youngsters on the team. Their strong performances led the way for us and hopefully we can compete for it all next year.”

In addition, DuPont Country Club 1 and Overbrook Golf Club 1 earned spots in Division AA with wins in Challenge Matches against Huntsville Golf Club and Little Mill Country Club, respectively.

Overbrook is no stranger to Team Matches success. The club has accrued seven titles (1948-50, 1981, 1986, 1988, 2014) but hasn’t been in Division AA since 2021. A 28.5-25.5 victory over Little Mill gets them back to where they feel they belong.

“The whole team and club was proud,” team captain Chris Lange, Jr., 39, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., said. “After playing the matches there was such a good atmosphere at the club. We have a long history of good golf and having good homegrown players.”

With a great mix of ages on its team including 14-year-old Cole Berry, 15-year-old Lannon Boyd, 63-year-old Oscar Mestre and 68-year-old Chris Lange, Sr., Lange, Jr. had a decision to make. 

“There was a time on our team when we were still winning championships, and Oscar [Mestre] was the captain and the older guys probably wouldn’t play away,” Lange, Jr. said. “But the team dynamic has changed a little bit. We’ve got these young guys that can hit it a long way and at Overbrook there’s space to hit it. I was able to call my dad [Chris Lange, Sr.] and Oscar and they offered to go play away at Little Mill, a place that is tighter off the tee. They are such team players and selfless guys because they understood the value of that.”

It paid off. Overbrook won both on the road and at home. “There are so many great cultures at Overbrook right now,” Lange, Jr. “There’s a great sense of pride from so many people about representing the club well. One of those cultures since I was a kid is scratch golf. Having 12 guys who can shoot par or better is important. I am proud of our team.”

DuPont has one title (1959) but hasn’t been in AA since a 2018 Challenge Match loss to LedgeRock Golf Club (30.5-23.5).

But a 32.5-21.5 victory over Huntsville Golf Club gets it back. 

“We are excited to be heading back to AA,” team captain Jerry Haftmann, 23, of Springfield, Pa., said. “Everyone showed up to play and it was a full team effort. Once we knew we had won, our team came back to the club to celebrate. It was a great memory for everyone on our team.”

“The highlight for DuPont,” Haftmann said, “Was the performance of Matt Brainard.”

“Matt played in the four spot on the road,” Haftmann said. “Because of a miscommunication on my end, his partner missed the match. But he stepped up and got 5.5 points and won the better-ball match on his own ball.”

Haftmann’s victory in the club championship at DuPont last year gets him the honor of being the captain. Some growing pains for sure, but he said he has been overwhelmed by the support from his teammates helping him make the right decisions for the team.

“The Team Matches mean so much,” Haftmann said. “The members of our team compete week in and week out at DuPont and representing the club means so much to all of us. It’s so cool to see the competitive nature in all of them.”

Share This: