May 10, 2008

Tavistock Country Club takes GAP Team Matches title

  Tavistock Country Club captured its fourth GAP Team Matches title in the last five years on Saturday by outlasting reigning champion Commonwealth National Golf Club, Huntsville Golf Club and Yardley Country Club. Tavistock finished with 84.5 points, Commonwealth with 73.25 points, Yardley with 61.25 points and Huntsville with 52 points.

  Tavistock’s return to the top perch comes a year after the club failed to make the Playoff and two years removed from its streak of three consecutive titles (2004-06). What was the difference in 2008?

  “It was good to have our home course again,” said Tom Gramigna, a member of all four winning teams. “There is a huge advantage when you have your own field, which we didn’t have last year.”

  Tavistock was under renovation during the 2007 GAP Team Matches, forcing the then three-time defending champions to Woodcrest Country Club for home contests.

  “After last year, the common excuse was we didn’t have a home,” said Doug Cusick, 26, of Marlton, N.J., who scored 11.25 points as part of the Tavistock home squad. “But who knew if that was accurate. Guys are getting a little older and competition continues to get better. It almost validates those other championships.”

  Tavistock capitalized on its home course edge by scoring a Playoff high 29.5 points. In addition to Cusick, Michael Tash (10 points) and William McGuinness (eight points) comprised the Haddonfield, N.J. team.

  Overall, Gramigna turned in the day’s top effort, scoring a Playoff high 14 points. Sean Leonard, who like Gramigna traveled to Huntsville for the final, scored 10.5 points and Bob Arthur, playing at Yardley, scored 10 points.

  “I’ve been playing really well this spring and I expected myself to win some points and I was happy to get them,” said Gramigna. “But if I got zero points and we win, that would be fine. I really didn’t care [about the points], I just wanted us to win. I was just glad to help where I could.”

  Commonwealth National entered the final as the defending champion, looking to repeat despite losing three key players for various reasons (Craig Burton, Ken Matt and Steve Owens) from a year ago. However, Commonwealth captain John Robinson wouldn’t use that as an excuse.

  “Tavistock played better on Saturday and deserves all the credit for playing like the great team they are,” said Robinson. “We’ll do all we can to be back in the final next year if we can get by what will be a very strong group with Huntingdon Valley Country Club, Manufacturers Golf & Country Club and Merion Golf Club. With four championships in five years we congratulate Tavistock for another impressive effort.”

  The GAP Team Matches Playoff format is individual match play with 12 total players competing from each club. Three-man teams from each club play at the four sites with each individual match worth three points. An additional quarter point is awarded for margin of victory. The four final teams are decided in the round-robin portion of the GAP Team Matches in the three prior weeks.

  A record 324 teams from 126 member clubs took part in the GAP Team Matches this year.

  In short about the GAP Team Matches: Each team competes in a four-team round robin on three Sundays in April/early May with the Playoff and Challenge Matches taking part the Saturday after the completion of the trio of matches. There are seven divisions with AA serving as the championship bracket. Challenges are held for teams in Divisions AA, A and B to determine upward or downward mobility. Winners of Divisions C, D, E and F automatically move up, replacing the last-place finishers in the divisions above them.

  The GAP Team Matches, or the Interclub Matches as they were originally called, served as the basis for the founding of the Association in 1897, and today, just like then, serves as a source of club pride. The GAP Team Matches have been held every year with the exception of 1943-45 (World War II) and 1994 (ice storm).

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