Joseph Weiscarger used course experience to outfox the field in the 15th AGA/GAP Stroke Play Championship Aug. 24 at Fox Hill Country Club (par 71, 6,555 yards).
The Wyoming Valley Country Club member carded a 1-under-par 70, the day’s lone subpar score, to take the Open Division title. He edged Honesdale Golf Club’s Eric Williams by a stroke.
“I’ve played Fox Hill a lot. Quite honestly, I used that experience to the best that I could while playing in competition,” Weiscarger, 60, of Wilkes Barre, Pa., said. “My style of game is that I don’t take too many risks. If I have a good putting day, I feel like I have an opportunity to win. That day I did putt well.”
A total of 28 putts suggests a solid day on the greens — none more decisive than a testy three-footer on No. 18 (par 4, 377 yards). A drive into the left rough prompted creative shotmaking in order to carve out a par.
“Those who know Fox Hill know that at the corner, approximately 120 yards out, there’s a tree that blocks your way,” Weiscarger said. “I had 131 yards to a front right hole location. I had 12 feet of airtime from the overhanging branches to the ground. I could hit it low under the tree. I choked up on a 6-iron, took a half swing, hit it off the toe of the club and tried to fade it in. It landed on the front of the green — 20 feet away.”
That conversion served as an encore to Weiscarger’s curtain call on the previous hole (par 4, 384 yards).
“I ended up being aggressive on my second shot. I knew there was a danger if I was to miss to the right of the green, but I decided to take a wedge, hit it as hard as I can and go right at the flag,” he said. “Fortunately, I hit a tremendous wedge that landed on the green, took one bounce and stopped six inches below the cup. No. 17 is traditionally a dangerous putting green because of the slope and the speed.”
No danger when it’s a tap-in birdie.
Weiscarger is a frequent Anthracite competitor, with three Men’s Coal Scuttle individual titles to his credit. Although he is eligible to compete in the Senior Division, it never adds up for the accountant.
“I try to stay as competitive as I can,” Weiscarger said. “Obviously, the tees are back farther. It’s a challenge from everywhere, but honestly, I like to play the tees far back because I do get invited to play in member-guest, three-day tournaments in our area. They always play the championship tees. I don’t want to get in the habit of playing closer and lose my ability to compete from the back tees. That’s why I do it.”
A putter awakening allowed Robert Andrejko to rise again in the Anthracite ranks.
The Scranton Municipal Golf Course member carded an even-par 71 to claim the event’s Senior Division (par 71, 6,136 yards) title. A reliable tool of late paid dividends at Fox Hill.
“I was putting poorly all year, and I just started putting better,” Andrejko, 59, of Jessup, Pa., said. “I didn’t do anything different. I just started to make putts and got the confidence back. That’s one thing I didn’t have: confidence. I’d get over a putt and wonder what side I was going to miss it on. The last three or four rounds, I feel like I can make any putt.
“I putted well and hit the ball well, which usually goes together. I’ve just been playing well the last couple of rounds. It was a good day.”
The par 3, 163-yard No. 7 nearly made it a bad day. Andrejko lost sight of his 8-iron shot off the tee.
“I thought I hit the ball over the green. We were looking all over for it. I was ready to go to back to the tee,” he said. “It was actually left of the green, and I got up-and-down for a par there. That was a big momentum change.”
Add Nos. 9 (par 4, 362 yards) and 11 (par 3, 124 yards) to the momentum category. On the former, Andrejko pulled his drive into left tree-line, forcing a low liner onto the green. He ran a 35-footer for birdie four feet past the cup and snuck in the slippery downhiller for par. Andrejko pushed an 8-iron on No. 11, but escaped unscathed after making a six-footer for 3.
Anthracite success isn’t foreign to Andrejko. He earned the organization’s Senior Player of the Year honor four of the last six years.
“I’ve missed one event in the last five years. I’ve had pretty good success,” Andrejko, who worked for the department of corrections, said.
Anthracite Golf Association
The Anthracite Golf Association merged with the Golf Association of Philadelphia in 2018. Anthracite, an organization founded in 1951, promotes golf in the Northeastern Pennsylvania region. At the height of its growth, Anthracite included 46 Member Clubs in 18 counties.
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 260 Full Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across Eastern Pennsylvania and parts of 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.