Team GAP seeks fourth straight Compher Cup title
Fore: a term used to warn others that a golf ball is heading in their direction.
Four: a number the Golf Association of Philadelphia strives to shout April 24. Thatâ€™s when it opposes the New Jersey State Golf Association in the 52nd Compher Cup at Galloway National Golf Club.
Team GAP seeks its fourth straight title and sixth in the last seven years. Itâ€™s comprised of the following players: Joe April, Philadelphia Cricket Club; John Brennan, Philadelphia Cricket; Stephen Dressel, St. Davids Golf Club; Robert Galbreath, Jr. Philmont Country Club; Michael R. Brown, Philadelphia Publinks GA; Andrew Mason, Huntingdon Valley Country Club; Brian McDermott, Llanerch Country Club; Scott McNeil, Philadelphia Publinks GA; Jeff Osberg, Llanerch; Grant Skyllas, Moselem Springs Golf Club, Glenn Smeraglio of Mercer Oaks Golf Course and P. Chet Walsh of Philadelphia Country Club, who will serve as team captain.
The Compher Cup isnâ€™t foreign to Walsh; heâ€™s competed on 11 occasions over the last four decades, his last appearance coming in 2004.
â€śIt makes you feel good that youâ€™re selected to play on any of the honorary teams. I think itâ€™s a goal that a lot of people set each season â€” to play well enough to be considered for it,â€ť Walsh, 48, of Wayne, Pa., said.
A strong 2012 campaign allowed Walsh to throw his name into the consideration basket. He qualified for match play in the Amateur Championship, finished tied for third in a shortened Patterson Cup and captured The Marston Cup in a sudden-death playoff.
â€śWhen you look back at last year, I definitely played better than I had in awhile,â€ť Walsh said. â€śI spent the better part of 14 years trying to hit it both ways when required. I finally made that decision to go back to hooking the ball. Itâ€™s the way Iâ€™ve played my whole life. I know what the golf ballâ€™s doing for the most part. I guess you could say I tried to dumb it down and play one way.â€ť
That improvement, coupled with history, may favor Walsh and the GAP team. Walsh holds a sturdy 7-3-1 record in the Compherâ€™s singles portion. In 2003, he captained a victorious GAP squad in the Mason-Dixon Matches, which pit the Association against the Middle Atlantic Golf Association, at Galloway National.
â€śItâ€™s a fun match play course,â€ť Walsh said. â€śAnything can happen, especially with the rookies. On paper, youâ€™d have to say New Jersey would be favored because theyâ€™ve played their [NJSGA] Mid-Am there quite a few times. That doesnâ€™t mean our Philadelphia guys havenâ€™t played there enough; I just think on paper, youâ€™d say their more familiar with the golf course.â€ť
Walsh is one of six GAP players with Compher experience; the other half of the 2013 roster features rookies such as Dressel a semifinalist in the 2012 Amateur Championship at Huntingdon Valley.
â€śItâ€™s certainly an honor to be selected,â€ť Dressel, 24, of Wayne, Pa., said. â€śIâ€™m definitely looking forward to the event â€” playing a very tough golf course from my understanding in Galloway. It will be nice to play in a team atmosphere.â€ť
To date, the Golf Association of Philadelphia leads the series, 34â€“12â€“4. The Compher Cup Matches started, but were rained out, in 2005.
In the Compher Cup, each association fields a 12-man team with players simultaneously competing in a singles match and four-ball match. A total of 18 points is available. Matches that end in a tie result in a half point for the team.
Fred Compher, a former New Jersey State Golf Association president, conceived the neighborhood matches after leaving his post in 1959. Compher donated a silver trophy that year earmarked for such a rivalry.
In 1961, association representatives Bob Jacobson of New Jersey and Richard Ollmah of GAP completed the details. In 1962, the first Compher Cup matches took place. That year, the NJSGA side forged a 5â€“1 lead in the morning foursomesâ€™ competitions and held serve in the afternoon singles matches for an 11.5-6.5 victory.
After the New Jersey victory, Compher, who was known at the time as the most successful NJSGA president in its history, presented the trophy â€śto promote golf between the groups.â€ť
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 Philadelphiaâ€™s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphiaâ€™s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.