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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Haverford School had two impressive final acts

   I had been searching around for some results from the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association Tournament and from Haverford School-Episcopal Academy Day and finally was able to chat with Fords head coach Gui Costin, who had some interesting stories to tell.
   Very little separated Haverford School and Malvern Prep as they battled it out in the six mini-tournaments for the Inter-Ac League title this fall, which the Fords finally nailed down at the final event. And the team chase at the PAISAA tourney at Brookside Country Club, which adjoins The Hill School in Pottstown, was no different.
   Haverford School senior Jay Losty didn’t play badly this fall, but I suspect his play wasn’t up to what he had hoped for in his final year. But he was still a senior leader on an Inter-Ac championship team and that leadership was on display at Brookside.
   “I caught up to Jay on the 16th hole and I thought Malvern had us by one at that point,” Costin said. “I asked him if he wanted to know what the numbers were and he said he did. Turns out we were up one, but he didn’t know that.
   “He makes bogey at 16, then he makes a great par at 17, a long, uphill par-3. It was getting so dark at that point that the last two groups played the last hole together, so there’s five guys out there, it’s dark and he thinks he needs to make it from the fairway for us to win. He hits it a foot from the hole and makes birdie.”
   When the numbers were added up, Losty’s birdie gave Haverford School the team title, 244-245.
   The teams had four players with the best three scores counting. Haverford School senior Otis Baker had signed for a 78 (Costin said he actually shot 77, but had to go with the 78 he signed for), junior Max Siegfried had an 82 and Losty’s birdie gave him 84 and Haverford School its winning 244 total.
   Losty is headed for Yale and will play squash in college, but those last couple holes at Brookside tells you all you need to know about Jay Losty the golfer.
   Malvern Prep was led by Brendan Bacskai with an 80. Mike Lamond had an 82 and Mike Szipszky had an 83.
   Episcopal, the third-place finisher in the Inter-Ac race, also finished third in the PAISAA tourney with a solid 248 total.
   Haverford School might very well have saved its best for last as the Fords teed it up on Haverford-EA Day Nov. 7, challenging the front nine at Merion Golf Club’s historic East Course on a chilly, blustery day.
   Ryan Bowman and Siegfried carded 4-over 40s on Merion’s front nine to lead the Fords to a 248-264 victory over a very strong Episcopal team.
   The Fords could take their pick from two of the three 41s that rounded out their scoring as Baker, senior Jack McAleese and eighth-grader Peter Garno all came in at that 5-over total.
   “To have five players go 5-over or better on the front nine at Merion in those conditions is pretty impressive,” said Costin, a lifelong member at Merion.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Barkann's 89 at Seaview good for 10th

   I’m a little late with this, but I’ve been sitting on the results from what was billed as the next-to-last Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour stop of the year at the historic Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway Township, N.J. just outside of Atlantic City when it was still pretty warm a couple of weeks ago.
   I was busy putting together an All-Delco tennis team, but also had some time off coming and actually snuck in one last round of golf on a chilly Sunday morning last weekend. I mention it only to plug my go-to place to play for the golfer with little or no  money, Blackwood Golf Club in Douglassville, just over the Berks County line above Pottstown. It’s a legit 6,000-plus yard course that was in great shape last Sunday. It’s eminently walkable. And without a cart to pay for, the greens fee was 15 bucks. Just sayin.
   There wasn’t a huge Delco contingent at Seaview, but Michael Barkann of Newtown  Square finished 10th in the 13-to-15 division with an 89 over the challenging 6,202-yard, par-71 Seaview layout. Hayden Smith of Havertown, one of the youngest players in the division, finished five shots back of Barkann in 11th place with a 94.
   Brian Isztwan of Huntingdon Valley took top honors in the division with a sparkling 1-over 72.
   Upper Darby junior Michael Wolf finished 12th in the 16-to-18 division with a 92. Christopher Drysdale of Yorktown Heights, N.J. matched the 72 put up by Isztwan to finish first in the 16-to-18 age group.
   Not sure if the early arrival of winter in these parts prevented the Junior Tour from getting in one last event, but it sounds like it’s going to warm up this weekend, so we’ll see. Could be worse. Could be Buffalo.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nye's hard work earned him Merchandiser of the Year award

   I got a chance to chat briefly with Scott Nye, the head pro at  Merion Golf Club, when I was there early in the spring of 2013 to speak to Hank Thompson, the USGA’s advance man for the 2013 U.S. Open.
   The Open, which by almost any measure was a smashing success, was about 10 weeks away and preparations were heading into the homestretch. Nye was a very busy man, yet he perked up when I mentioned I had covered a player he had given lessons to as a youngster, Radnor High’s Jackie Calamaro, when she won the PIAA Championship in 2009.
   Nye knew there was a lot of hard work ahead. And in a couple of weeks from now all that hard work will pay off when Nye accepts the Merchandiser of the Year (private facilities) award from the PGA of America in a ceremony Nov. 20, part of the organization’s annual meeting.
   Nye joins a list that includes Aronimink Golf Club head pro Jeff Kiddie, who received the Merchandiser of the Year award in 2011.
   Nye has a solid group at Merion, including head of instruction Mark Sheftic, who has qualified for the PGA Championship three times in the last five years out of the PGA Professional National Championship. Sheftic and Merion assistant pro Robby Bruns will be in the field at next year’s National Club Pro when it is staged at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.
   Nye is in his 14th year as the head pro at Merion. He manages a 950-square-foot golf shop. The 51-year-old  native of Wooster, Ohio and 1985 graduate of the College of Wooster oversees a 30-member staff involved in both inside and outside operations.
   Nye is from a golf family. His father Bob is a PGA professional and coached golf and men’s soccer at the College of Wooster. His two brothers are PGA professionals. Greg is the head coach of the Penn State men’s golf team and Gary is the Director of Golf at Stockfarm Club in Hamilton, Mont.
   The Merion head pro job is not a stepping-stone job. Guys get that job and stay there. I can remember being a fledgling looper there in 1969 in the last couple of years of the reign of Fred Austin, a Scottish gentleman who seemed to have sprung directly from the place where they invented the game. Not long before the 1971 U.S. Open, Austin gave way to Bill Kittleman, who is credited with creating the almost iconic Merion logo that incorporated the wicker basket pins and some of the native grasses that populate the gem of a golf course in the Ardmore section of Haverford Township.
The  Merchandiser of the Year award is proof that Nye is just adding to the legacy that is the head professional at Merion Golf Club.

Sturgeon headed for the Cricket Club

   Speaking of the 2015 Professional National Championship at Philadelphia Cricket Club, Grant Sturgeon, an assistant pro at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., earned a spot in the field at the Cricket Club by winning the PGA Assistant Championship, which concluded Sunday at PGA Golf Club’s Wanamaker Course in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
   Sturgeon, a native of Mamaroneck, was in a three-way tie for the lead after 54 holes, but blew away the field with a final round of 7-under 65 to win the title and the $9,000 winner’s share of the purse by seven shots.
   Heading the Philadelphia Section PGA contingent in Port St. Lucie was Billy Stewart, an assistant at The ACE Club and a product of the junior program at Llanerch Country Club. Stewart, a veteran of nearly a decade on the Florida mini-tours, got off to a fast start with a 5-under 67, but cooled off with rounds of 74, 80 and 71 to finish in a tie for 18th at 4-over 292.
   Rusty Harbold of Lancaster was another shot back of Stewart in a tie for 22nd at 293, Tony Perla, an assistant in George Forster’s Radnor Valley Country Club pro shop, finished in a tie for 43rd at 298, and Gulph Mills Golf Club assistant Josh Rackley finished in a tie for 53rd at 300.

Junior Tour stop is hardly a breeze

   The weather conditions for the Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour’s stop at Olde Homestead Golf Club in New Tripoli were downright brutal last Sunday, but 19 junior golfers challenged the conditions and the 6,060-yard layout.
   D.J. Colleran of Radnor was the only Delco golfer to make the trip and he finished fifth in the 13-to-15 division with a 101. Buddy Hansen IV of Blue Bell won the division in a match of cards with Timothy Chaykosky Jr. of Ambler after both tied for first with 90s, which should give you some idea of how tough the conditions were.
   Andrew Lombardo of Lansdale won the 16-to-18 division in a match of cards after sharing the top spot with Rob Robinson Jr. of Hatfield and Nickolas Mokay of Moscow after all three of them carded 88s.
   Top honors in the 13-to-15 girls division went to Alexandra Voight-Shelly of State College with a 103 and Emily Gilbert of Gilbertsville was the only 16-to-18 competitor to finish her round and won the division with a 98.