From what Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz is telling me right now, I’m not sure the BMW Golf Association of Philadelphia Team Matches Playoff is going to come off Saturday, but the four-team battle never fails to produce some drama and some great golf – whenever it is played.
The champion of the top tier of the Team Matches is Division AA and the playoff will pit four teams that won their respective sections over the last three weekends. Each of the four clubs will send three players to each club with singles and better-ball points on the line in each foursome.
Appropriately, this year’s Playoff will include teams from all over the tri-state area, from defending champion Little Mill Country Club in South Jersey to Glenmaura National Golf Club in the Scranton area to two of Montgomery County’s two most recognized names, the William Flynn design at Huntingdon Valley Country Club and the A.W. Tillinghast classic that is Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Wissahickon Course. The Cricket Club is one of the four founding clubs of the Golf Association of Philadelphia.
The favorite, as it has been the last few years, will be the Cricket Club, which is coming off a smashing 45-9 win over Aronimink Golf Club to complete a 3-0 run through Section 1.
“The goal was to get back to the Playoff and ultimately the goal is to win it,” Cricket Club captain Kevin Kelly told the GAP website. “We had some guys just play fantastic (Sunday). Aronimink has such a stable of good players. Quite frankly, we were surprised at the score.”
Everybody in these matches has good players, but the Cricket Club no doubt benefited from the return from the college wars of Georgetown junior Cole Berman, the 2015 BMW Philadelphia Amateur champion who was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Big East Championship.
I’m not going to pretend to completely understand the scoring on these things, but Berman was sent to Aronimink and swept his singles and better-ball points. The Cricket Club’s group that stayed at home also got strong showings from 2009 BMW Philadelphia Amateur champion Conrad Von Borsig and John Brennan, who qualified for match play at last summer’s U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Stonewall.
That’s just the highlights. The Cricket Club has talent up and down its lineup.
Such is the level of competition that Glenmaura advanced out of Section 2, despite dropping a 27.5-26.5 decision to Llanerch Country Club in Sunday’s final regular-season match. The goal, though, is to get as many points as possible and Glenmaura did that Sunday. That, combined with the points it piled up in the first two weeks, was enough to send it into the Playoff Final.
“We’re aware of the track records of success, the players on the teams,” Glenmaura captain Matthew Dougherty told the GAP website. “We’re aware of how strong these teams are and how deep they are across the board.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to go play good golf. You have to treat it as a medal-play event and put the ball in the hole as if you were posting a score out there. If you don’t shoot a good number out there, you’re going to likely lose. All you can do is put it in the hole and see what happens.”
Little Mill capped a 3-0 run through Section 3 with a 38.5-15.5 victory over LedgeRock Golf Club. Playing at home, Vince Kwon and Joe Roeder got 7.5 out of a possible 9 points against the LedgeRock pair of Chip Lutz, named by Global Golf Post as its 2016 top male amateur golfer in the world, and Josh Krumholz.
Huntingdon Valley completed a 3-0 run through Section 4 with a 43-11 win over the Cricket Club’s second team – yes, the Cricket Club’s stable of good players is that deep that it fields two teams playing in the top tier.
Drexel golf coach Ben Feld and Huntingdon Valley captain Dan Pinciotti Jr. went to the Cricket Club and picked up 8 of a possible 9 points while the pair of Ben Smith and Doug Gregor were back at Huntingdon Valley taking all 9 points up for grabs in their matchup.
Huntingdon Valley has won the BMW Team Matches a record 32 times. It certainly has the talent to add one more title to that record Saturday.