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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Farewell to Heritage Hills?

   A few leftovers from the scholastic postseason golf trail ...
   There was talk at the state tournament this week that the PIAA will re-bid the event in the upcoming months.
   I don’t have any great objection to the Heritage Hills Golf Resort, which, in a lot of ways, is the perfect venue from a couple of standpoints having nothing do to with the actual golf course.
   For one thing, it has housing right there, which is a huge plus. While it is probably a bit of a hike for players from the western and northwestern parts of the state, if you’re going to hold a golf tournament in October in Pennsylvania, it’s probably not a bad idea to have it as far south in the state as you can.
   A lot of people loved having the tournament at Penn State, but frost delays were often the rule rather than the exception in the middle of the Allegheny Mountains at that time of year.
   Heritage Hills certainly holds fond memories for Delco. The first year the tournament was held there in 2002, Radnor’s Adam Cohan became the county’s first state golf champion.
   A year later, Cohan and Strath Haven junior Conrad Von Borsig hooked up in a riveting head-to-head duel before ultimately finishing in a tie for second.
   In 2004, Von Borsig capped an outstanding scholastic career with a fifth-place finish.
   In 2006, the first year of statewide team competition, the Radnor boys claimed the state team championship in bone-chilling wind and cold.
   The next year began a parade of Delco excellence in the girls field when Chichester freshman Aurora Kan finished fifth. A year later, Kan was second to Kennett’s Christine Shimel while Radnor’s Jackie Calamaro and Garnet Valley’s Erica Pellegrini finished in a tie for seventh.
   A year later Calamaro earned another state title for Radnor with Kan settling for second place. Finally in 2010, Kan capped her brilliant scholastic career with a PIAA championship.
   If this week’s PIAA Tournament was the last at Heritage Hills, the second-place finish in the team race by the Radnor girls was a fitting conclusion to a decade of Delco success in York County.
   The golf course itself is quirky and has never seemed to be one that a player — even a very good one — does well on in his or her first time around.
   Sun Valley’s Braden Shattuck seemed to suffer from a classic case of first-timeitis at Heritage Hills this week.
   This year’s boys champion, Garrett Browning of West Allegheny, posted a 77 in his opening round a year ago, but followed it up with a 2-under 69 to get himself a medal. It looked like he had figured out Heritage Hills in the process and he came back and built on that knowledge this year.
   Radnor junior Carey Bina might be somebody who wouldn’t mind a return trip to Heritage Hills. The last nine holes he played were the front nine at the Hills Tuesday and the light bulb went on when he dropped a 20-foot putt for eagle on the par-5 second hole. He ended up firing a 2-under 34 on the outgoing nine for a second-round 74 that was a big improvement on an opening-round 81.
   It was not quite good enough, though, for the coveted low Delco honors. That belonged to Shattuck, who had rounds of 78 and 76 for a 154 total that was one shot better than Carey Bina.
The Herrs can
   It was another outstanding postseason for the Council Rock North brother-sister tandem of Zach and Erica Herr.
They repeated their brother-sister championship act of a year ago at the District One Tournament.
  Then little sis Erica, a sophomore, capped her season by winning the state championship. It was the fourth straight year in which a District One player claimed the state crown, following in the footsteps of Kennett’s Shimel, Radnor’s Calamaro and Chichester’s Kan.
   Zach, a junior, was paired with Shattuck in the second round after opening with a 79. He grinded it out with a 2-over 73, the day’s second-best round, to earn a medal. And that was with missing a couple of short putts on his last two holes.
   The low finisher from District One was no surprise as Holy Ghost Prep’s Chris Crawford, who earned a trip to the U.S. Amateur last summer in qualifying at Llanerch C.C. and Rolling Green G.C., finished at 151, a shot ahead of Herr and Central Bucks West’s T.J. Summers. Also in that group at 8-over 152 was defending champion Brandon Matthews of Pittston.
Berman a straight shooter
   As you would expect, the greenskeeping at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill Course, site of Monday’s Bert Linton Inter-Ac League Championship, was immaculate.
   Because of the way the mowers are set to the cut the grass on the fairways, there was a visible line right down the middle.
The tee shots of Haverford School sophomore Cole Berman invariably landed maybe five yards either side of that line. Just in case you’re wondering why he won the tournament with a 3-over-par 75.
   The kid was getting outdriven by 50 yards all day and didn’t make a birdie. And won by three shots.
Jackie’s back
   Speaking of Jackie Calamaro …
   The 2009 PIAA champion and Daily Times Player of the Year had to put the clubs away earlier this year when it was discovered that her painful hip was going to require surgery, a procedure similar to the one Phillies second Chase Utley underwent a couple of offseasons ago.
   Calamaro took a medical redshirt at the University of Illinois last year and spent a long summer rehabbing.
But if you know Jackie Calamaro, you know she wasn’t going to stay down for long.
   Illinois teed it up in the Hoosier Fall Invitational last week at Crooked Stick Golf Club, site of John Daly’s raucous coming-out party at the 1991 PGA Championship.
   Calamaro only competed as an individual with Fighting Illini head coach Renee Stone probably trying to figure out exactly where Calamaro stood in her return from a very serious injury.
   Well, Stone got her answer as Calamaro had rounds of 79, 75 and 75 for a 13-over 229 total that enabled her to finish in a tie for 15th overall. She had the third-best total among the Illinois contingent. Illinois finished third in the team standings and probably would have won had Calamaro’s score been counted.
   Not sure if her strong showing had anything to do with it, but Calamaro also got her first shot at writing an entry on the Chip Shots blog on the Illinois women’s golf website. She sounded pretty excited to be back playing like the two-time Pennsylvania Junior and PIAA champion that she is.
   And even though she was halfway across the country, Calamaro deserves some props for the showing of the Radnor girls in this postseason.
   Calamaro was a junior when Radnor finally had enough players to compete as a girls team. She was a very good player, but some of her younger teammates still had a lot to learn about the game. They learned from one of the best and the payoff came in these last few weeks as Radnor won the District One and PIAA East Region team titles before finishing second this week at Heritage Hills.
   Calamaro was calling and supporting the Radnor girls all the way along their journey and they made it clear that she was providing plenty of motivation in the process.
Achenbach one of the best
   Radnor’s Andy Achenbach cemented his reputation as one of the top scholastic golf coaches in Pennsylvania this season.
Since taking over from John Schulte in 2005, Achenbach has produced a District One and PIAA boys team champion in 2006, a PIAA girls individual champion in Calamaro in 2009 and a state runnerup for the girls in the team chase this season.
  Just getting the girls program off the ground, with help from assistant Steve Burns, is an accomplishment in itself.
   Achenbach also got great leadership from the Bina brothers, senior Kavian and junior Carey, as Radnor won the Central League title and both Binas earned a trip to Heritage Hills.
Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour rolls on
  The Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour took advantage of some nice October weather to get in a couple more events in recent weeks.
  Garnet Valley sophomore Jack Highfill just missed earning a trip to the District One Tournament when he lost out in a playoff for the final berth at the Central League Tournament.
   But he got right back on the course at a Junior Tour stop Oct. 8 at Sussex Pines G.C. in Georgetown, Del. and finished second in the boys 13-to-15 age group with a 79.
   Jackie Calamaro’s youngest brother, Jacob, carded a 49 to top the field of nine-holers at Sussex Pines.
   Highfill competed in the 16-to-18 division Oct. 22 in a Junior Tour stop at The Links G.C. in Marlton, N.J. and finished fifth with an 84.
   Radnor sophomore Austin Dunlap, a district qualifier this season, won the boys 13-to-15 division at The Links with an 81.
   The nine-hole field included a couple of familiar names as Calamaro carded a 52 to finish third, one shot ahead of the little sister of his sister’s scholastic rival Aurora Kan, Caprian Kan, who posted a 53.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Aronimink's Kiddie named PGA's top merchandiser

    Jeffrey Kiddie, the head pro at Aronimink Golf Club, has been named the 2011 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities.
   The 40-year-old Kiddie is the third Philadelphia Section PGA pro to win the award since it was established in 1978. The award recognizes PGA professionals who excel as businerperson/merchandisers in the promotion of golf.
   Kiddie will be recognized at The PGA of America Awards Jan. 26 during the the 59th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Converntion Center's Chapin Theater in Orlando, Fla.
   "I am really proud, happy and honored as this award is a great acknowledgement for both myself and my team," Kiddie said in a PGA of America press release announcing the honor. "We take a lot of time and pride to amke sure our golf shop operation is successful and the whole group at Aronimink deserves a lot of credit for this honor."
   Aronimink was very much in teh spotlight the last two summers as it hosted the AT&T National event, which was on hiatus from Congressional Country Club as that Bethesda, Md. prepared for the 2011 U.S. Open, which turned into the coming-out party for Rory McIlroy.
   The Donald Ross design drew nothing but praise from the touring pros who were seeing it for the first time. Aronimink has also hosted the 1962 PGA Championship, the 1977 U.S. Amateur, the 1997 U.S. Junior Amateur and the 2003 Senior PGA Championship.
   "My peers and I like to share ideas to be as creative and efficient as we can," Kiddie said. "We try hard to do what we do well and I feeel like we treat people great, not just on the retail side, but for regular member and guest play. We work hard at Aronimink to create the right atmosphere -- one that is welcoming and professional."
Strong showing for Kania
   Villanova junior Michael Kania, the two-time Haverford School All-Delco, had a solid showing in the Philadelphia Big 5 Invitational, which concluded Sunday at Plymouth Country Club.
   Kania had a pair of 72s over the 6,600-yard, par-70 Plymouth layout to finish in a tie for sixth at 4-over 144. It was the first top-10 finish this season for the Overbrook G.C. member. It was Kania's second top-20 finish and fourth straight top-30 finish.
   Kania led Villanova to an 11th-place finish out of the 22-team field with a 599 total. The Wildcats finished third among the Big 5 entrants as Penn earned Big 5 bragging rights by finishing in a tie for fourth at 587 and Temple finished in a tie for eighth overall and three shots ahead of Villanova at 596.
   The Wildcats got a boost from senior Bret McGaughey of Laguna Beach, Calif. who finished in a tie for 21st with a 147 total in his first tournament action of the fall.
   Villanova's other scorers were senior Brian Colbert of Cary, Ill. who was 61st at 154, junior Steve Skurla of Wheaton , Ill., who was in 66th with a 155 total and junior Derek Jones of Lower Burrell, Pa. who was in 91st with a 159 total.
   Monsignor Bonner All-Delco Mike Hartsough teed it up for the Saint Joseph's Hawks and struggled a little with rounds of 85 and 86 for a 171 total, but it was to see him get a shot since Hartsough went to Hawk Hill hoping to make the team as a walk-on. The Hawks finished 21st with a 642 total.
Haverford School still going strong
   Haverford School has continued to dominate the new format in the Inter-Ac League, which switched from the spring to the fall this season.
   The format has each school hosting the other schools in mini-tournaments and Germantown Academy was the host Monday at Plymouth Country Club.
   Led by a 34 posted by All-Delco Scott Jaster, the Fords finished with a 239 total, which was matched by Episcopal Academy. Cole Berman added a 37 for the Fords.
   Episcopal was led by Alex Dupre’s 37 and a 38 by Sean Fahey. Malvern Prep sophomore and Newtown Square resident Michael Davis also had a strong individual effort with a 35.
Through four mini-tournaments, Haverford School is in first place with an 18-0-4 mark. Episcopal is second with a 14-3-3 mark and Malvern Prep is third at 13-6-1.
   The top three individuals are Berman (132-6-7), Davis (163-18-6) and Jaster (153-28-7).
   A week earlier, Malvern Prep hosted the third mini-tournament at Applebrook Golf Club.
Led by Berman (37), Timmy Brooks (36) and Jaster (38), Haverford School finished with a 241 total, a number that was again matched by Episcopal.
   The Churchmen were led by Fahey, who was the overall medalist for the day with a 36. Dupre and Jack Dordelman added 38s for Episcopal.
   The final two mini-tournaments are next week, both at Gulph Mills with Penn Charter playing the host Oct. 17 and Haverford School as the host Oct. 20.
   The Inter-Ac Tournament is scheduled for Oct. 24 at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill course.
Thompson's unlikely title
   Ray Thompson, the Overbrook G.C. member and Drexel Hill resident, wasn't even going to tee it up in the Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior Amateur Championship because it was so close to the U.S. Senior Amateur, which he had qualified to play in. 
   But the epic rains of September, including Hurricane Irene, conspired to allow Thompson to not only play in, but win the GAP Senior Amateur crown.
   The original site for the GAP Senior, Whitemarsh Valley C.C., was ravaged by Irene, so the event was pushed back and moved to Whitford C.C.
   With the date change, Thompson teed it up and carded a 3-under 69 at Whitford to take the lead after the opening round of the scheduled 36-hole event.
   More rain left Whitford unplayable and Thompson was declared the winner after 18 holes.
   "It's a little bittersweet," the 59-year-old Thompson told the GAP website. "It's better when you win it over the course of two rounds, but don't get me wrong, I'm glad to win."
   Thompson's performance at Whitford also enabled him to overtake Michael Quinn of Edgmont C.C. by four strokes for the Senior Silver Cross Award.
   "I’m certainly happy that I was able to win the Senior Amateur and the Silver Cross to boot," said Thompson, who captured every Senior title in 200-7 en route to Player fo the Year honors that year. "That’s a nice accomplishment for me.
   "After 2007, I guess my expectations got up and I put a lot of pressure on myself to try and do better. Winning tournaments isn’t easy. You have to get a little luck as well. I went into this season saying that I have to have fun and not put pressure on myself to win every time I tee it up."
   LedgeRock G.C.’s Chip Lutz, winner of the Senior British Amateur last summer, finished second, three shots behind Thompson.
   Frank McFadden, a fellow Overbrook member of Thompson’s, shared third place at 1-over 73. Edgmont’s Quinn shared fifth place with Gary Daniels of Aronimink G.C. at 2-over 74.
   Overbrook’s Chris Lange finished in a tie for seventh at 3-over 75.