Lancaster’s Sprecher sparkles in Frank H. Chapman (Net)
POTTSTOWN, Pa. — When W. Garth Sprecher saw Bellewood Country Club listed as the site for the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s 74th Frank H. Chapman Memorial (Net), there was “no question” he wanted to participate.
He thoroughly enjoys the track, and on Wednesday, Sprecher turned that happiness into hardware. The Lancaster Country Club member posted 41 points to top the 55-player field on the par 71, 5,814-yard layout.
“The golf course was just a fun one to play,” Sprecher, 62, of Lancaster, Pa., said. “It was in incredible shape and just set up well for the players. I felt very relaxed out there. It had been 10 years since I played it, and I remembered it as a wonderful course. As soon as I saw it again, I knew why I liked it so much.”
Eight pars heading out served as yet another reminder of Sprecher’s affinity for Bellewood. His lone blemish occurred on No. 3 (par 4, 309 yards), where Sprecher caught the left greenside bunker with a 9-iron from 120 yards. He unintentionally visited the opposing bunker on his third stroke, splashed out to six feet and missed the bogey putt. The par 5, 471-yard No. 7 almost made up for the miscue. Sprecher reached the green in two strokes with a 5-wood from 220 yards, only to log three putts from 25 feet.
On his inward tour, Sprecher carded a net birdie on the par 4, 381-yard 15th hole. Standing 160 yards from the flagstick with a lie above his feet, Sprecher overdrew a 6-iron to a bank near the back of the green. He knocked a chip four feet past the jar and converted the comebacker.
“To miss the green and make 4 there, I was really pleased,” he said.
Back-to-back pars on his final two holes allowed Sprecher to edge Penn Oaks Golf Club’s Robert Edmiston The Springhaven Club’s James Reger and Stonewall’s Scott Ryan by a stroke. The victory is a highlight in an otherwise difficult season.
“My golf game has been horrible,” Sprecher, a member of the Association’s Executive Committee, said. “In two years, my handicap’s gone from an eight to a 14. I’ve had some disc issues in my back and some hip issues with arthritis. On a day like today, it just didn’t bother me. I felt a little twinge on one shot, and that was it. And when I can finish my swing, I can play closer to my former skill level.”
Frank H. Chapman, a Whitemarsh Valley Country Club member, served as the Association’s secretary-treasurer for 23 years. He died on June 7, 1955 at the age of 88. The Net tournament is held in his honor.
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 143 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. 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.