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Sept. 30, 2015

Philadelphia Challenge Matches celebrates 25th anniversary

  The Philadelphia Challenge Matches turns 25 this year, and the Golf Association of Philadelphia hopes to make the anniversary even more celebratory with a victory on Oct. 1 at Applebrook Golf Club.

| History | Player records |

  The event pits the Association against counterparts from the Philadelphia Section of the PGA. Both organizations field teams of 12. Two of the 12 players on each squad must be of Senior age (55 or older). The format is a four-ball stroke play match running concurrently with an individual match.

  A conversation between Robin McCool, an amateur out of Saucon Valley Country Club, and Ed Dougherty, a professional based at Edgmont Country Club, following the 1991 GAP Open Championship at Merion Golf Club (East) served as the Philadelphia Challenge Matches’ genesis.

  “We’re sitting there during the awards ceremony and he said, ‘Look at that scoreboard. The Top 6 players — three are amateurs and three are pros. Wouldn’t it be great if we got together and had a match?’” McCool said. “I thought it was an interesting idea.”

  McCool, who worked as a PING representative for the area at the time, took action on Dougherty’s suggestion. He approached PING to sponsor an event featuring competitors from GAP and the Philadelphia Section of the PGA — one similar to the longstanding Bob Goldwater Cup in Arizona.

  “I took it upon myself to bring everybody together,” McCool said.

  The inaugural PING Challenge Cup Matches took place on Sept. 26, 1991 at Rolling Green Golf Club. PING sponsored the event for eight years, footing half the bill and McCool the other half. Philadelphia Golfer magazine assumed a sponsorship role until 2006.

  The Philadelphia Section of the PGA leads the Philadelphia Challenge Matches series, 18-2-4.

  In 2014, the Golf Association of Philadelphia named McCool, who’s made 12 appearances in the event, a team captain in perpetuity.

  “It’s amazing and exciting that here we are 25 years later and it’s still a very popular event,” he said. “The original purpose for me was to bring all of the pros that I did business with on a daily basis and all of the amateurs who I competed against on a daily basis in tournaments, these two great groups of people that I was acquainted with, together. It was my objective to establish and foster better personal relationships going forward between [the GAP and Philadelphia Section]. It’s extremely fulfilling to see it has remained a very popular event on the schedule.”

  Below is a look at this year’s GAP team.

Amateurs

Michael R. Brown, Jr., Links Golf Club
Sixth appearance (2008-11, 2013)

2015 accomplishments: Advanced to U.S. Open Sectional qualifying … qualified for the U.S. Amateur with rounds of 70 (Old York Road Country Club) and 71 (Cedarbrook Country Club) … tied for 17th in the 111th Open Championship at Philadelphia Cricket Club (Wissahickon) … tied for 10th in the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s 102nd Amateur Championship presented by Allegheny Health Network at Country Club of Scranton …tied for 14th in the 113th Joseph H. Patterson Cup at Chester Valley Golf Club … posted a Top 10 finish in the 99th PAGA Open Championship at Rolling Green Golf Club; carded rounds of 69, 68 and 72 … ranked 12th in the William Hyndman, III Player of the Year standings.


Ryan Gelrod, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Second appearance (2006)

2015 accomplishments: Tied for 15th in the 32nd Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf at St. Davids Golf Club … advanced to the Round of 16 in the 115th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship at Llanerch Country Club; fell to Benjamin Smith of Huntingdon Valley Country Club, 2&1 … teamed with Marc Mandel to capture the 44th Four-Ball Stroke Play Championship at Fieldstone Golf Club; carded a 9-under-par 62, which tied for the lowest score, in relation to par, in event history … ranked 33rd in the William Hyndman, III POY standings.


Brian Gillespie, St. Davids Golf Club
Ninth appearance (2001-07, 2012)

2015 accomplishments: Posted a Top 10 finish in the 32nd Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf … qualified for match play in the 115th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship; lost to eventual semifinalist Christopher Fuga of Overbrook Golf Club, 2-up, in the Round of 32 … carded an even-par 72 to win the Marston Cup at LedgeRock Golf Club … ranked 31st in the William Hyndman, III POY standings.


Justin Hare, Five Ponds Golf Club
First appearance

2015 accomplishments: Quarterfinalist in the 115th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship; lost to eventual champion Cole Berman of Philadelphia Cricket Club, 6&5 … finished tied for third in the 113th Joseph H. Patterson Cup; carded rounds of 71 and 68 … tied for sixth in the Silver Cross Award standings with a 288 total … ranked ninth in the William Hyndman, III POY standings.


Michael Hyland, Little Mill Country Club
Fourth appearance (2001, 2011-12)

2015 accomplishments: Advanced to the Round of 16 in the 115th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship; lost to Chris Lange, Jr. of Overbrook Golf Club, 2&1 … qualified for the U.S. Amateur … tied for fifth in the 113th Joseph H. Patterson Cup; carded rounds of 65 and 75 … won the New Jersey State Golf Association’s Mid-Amateur Championship; defeated Matthew Finger of DuPont Country Club, 3&2, in the Final … tied for eighth in the Silver Cross Award standings with a 289 total … ranked seventh in the William Hyndman, III POY standings.


Michael Johnson, Talamore Country Club
First appearance

2015 accomplishments: Advanced to U.S. Sectional qualifying … placed 10th in the 113th Joseph H. Patterson Cup; carded rounds of 69 and 74 … ranked 26th in the William Hyndman, III POY standings.


Chris Lange, Jr., Overbrook Golf Club
Second appearance (2010)

2015 accomplishments: Quarterfinalist in the 115th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship; lost to Christopher Fuga, 6&5 … tied for 14th in the 113th Joseph H. Patterson Cup; carded rounds of 74 and 71 … finished tied for sixth in the Silver Cross Award standings with a 288 total … ranked 13th in the William Hyndman, III POY standings.


Scott McLaughlin, Commonwealth National Golf Club
Second appearance (2011)

2015 accomplishments: Tied for ninth in the 32nd Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf … tied for 17th in the 111th Open Championship … posted a Top 10 finish in the PAGA Amateur Championship presented by Allegheny Health Network … tied for 11th in the 113th Joseph H. Patterson Cup … ranked 21st in the William Hyndman, III POY standings.


Scott McNeil, Bala Golf Club
Fourth appearance (2011-12, 2014)

2015 accomplishments: Won the 32nd Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf; carded rounds of 68 and 75 … medalist in a U.S. Open Local Qualifier at Trump National Golf Club — Philadelphia; carded a 4-under-par 68 … qualified for match play in the 115th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship; lost to Christopher Crawford of Spring Mill Country Club, 1-up, in the Round of 32 … placed seventh in the 113th Joseph H. Patterson Cup; carded rounds of 74 and 67 … won the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s 22nd Middle-Amateur Championship Allegheny Health Network; carded rounds of 67 and 72 … ranked fourth in the William Hyndman, III POY standings.


Benjamin Smith, Huntingdon Valley Country Club
Fourth appearance (2012-14)

2015 accomplishments: Tied for fifth in the 113th Joseph H. Patterson Cup; carded rounds of 73 and 67 … posted a Top 10 finish in the 32nd Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf; carded a pair of 74s … semifinalist in the 115th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship; lost to eventual runner-up Michael Davis of Aronimink Golf Club, 1-up … placed third in the Silver Cross Award standings with a 282 total … ranked fifth in the William Hyndman, III POY standings.


Seniors

Raymond Thompson, Overbrook Golf Club
Fourth appearance (2007, 2013-14)

2015 accomplishments: Tied for third in the 81st Francis B. Warner Cup (Gross) at Little Mill Country Club … runner-up in the Frank H. Chapman Memorial Cup (Gross) at Berkshire Country Club; carded a 1-over-par 72 … teamed with Glenn Smeraglio of Mercer Oaks Golf Course to finish tied for fourth in the 56th Senior Four-Ball Stroke Play at North Hills Country Club … qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur at Hidden Creek Golf Club … tied for 11th in the 45th Senior Amateur Championship at Union League Golf Club at Torresdale … placed third in the Senior Silver Cross Award standings with a 298 total … ranked fifth in the Senior POY standings.


David West, Whitford Country Club
Second appearance (2008)

2015 accomplishments: Runner-up in the 45th Senior Amateur Championship; carded rounds of 70 and 72 … placed second in the Senior Silver Cross Award standings with a 296 total … tied for sixth in the 32nd Middle-Amateur Championship at St. Davids Golf Club … tied for fourth in the Frank H. Chapman Memorial Cup (Gross) … qualified for match play in the 115th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship; lost to Michael McDermott of Merion Golf Club in 20 holes … ranked first in the Senior POY standings.

Golf Association of Philadelphia
  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 150 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.

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