55th Compher Cup staged for Metedeconk National
After a 9â€“9 split decision in last yearâ€™s Compher Cup, the Golf Association of Philadelphia will look to retain the eventâ€™s hardware in the 55th playing of the honorary team event, set for April 27 at Metedeconk National Golf Club in Jackson, N.J.
In result of the tie between the GAP and New Jersey State Golf Association, the trophy remained in Philadelphia due to GAP coming out on top in 2014 at Aronimink Golf Club, 9.5â€“8.5. Before last year, the GAP had been victorious in four out of the previous five Compher Cup competitions.
This year, the following players will represent the GAP: John Brennan (7th appearance), Michael Carr (3rd), Ben Cooley (1st), Justin Hare (1st), Bill Jeremiah (2nd), Chris Lange, Jr. (2nd), Scott McLaughlin (1st), Scott McNeil (3rd), Patrick Ross (1st), Glenn Smeraglio (15th), Ben Smith (1st), and David West (2nd).
Paul â€śBuckyâ€ť Erhardt of Cavaliers Country Club has been selected as this yearâ€™s honorary team captain. Erhardt will be responsible for pairings and the selection of one player to the team roster. During his amateur career, the Philadelphia-area golf legend captured three Silver Cross Awards in a three-decade span (1968, 1978 and 1981). He qualified for match play in 11 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championships and made the Associationâ€™s Compher Cup and Mason-Dixon teams a sensational 15 straight seasons.
â€śIâ€™m a little bit overwhelmed. Golf has always been a huge part of my life. I always looked at these Matches as the beginning of the season, where the association teams get to play on wonderful golf courses,â€ť said Erhardt, 76, of Newark, Del.
â€śI want these guys to enjoy the courses, enjoy the company, and meet some of the great players around the area. Both associations do a wonderful job in presenting this competition,â€ť said Erhardt, who competed in 18 Compher Cups and 38 honorary team events overall. â€śThe competitive spirit will fall in naturally, but being able to get together with both associations is special. Itâ€™s beginning of the year, so most importantly, itâ€™s a great way to kick off the season.â€ť
Erhardt has been dealt a roster with plenty of experience and talent. Philadelphia Cricket Clubâ€™s John Brennan, the 2012 Middle-Amateur Champion, may prove to be a vital asset to the teamâ€™s preparation. He was victorious in the 2008 Metedeconk Invitational, where his winning prize included a year-long membership to the club.
â€śThe club was great to me, always getting me in games and treating me like a true member,â€ť said Brennan, 37, of Audubon, Pa.
Metedeconk National prides themselves on being a â€śgolfing oasisâ€ť, serving as an escape from both Philadelphia and New York City. Nestled in the upper region of the New Jersey Pinelands, atop one of the highest spots in central New Jersey, the first-class track was designed by the famed architects Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and Roger Rulewich. From the championship tees, Metedeconk National has a rating of 75.4 and a slope index of 146 with a par of 72.
â€śItâ€™s a beautiful facility with 27 holes of championship golf," said Brennan. "I probably went every other weekend, and I couldnâ€™t get enough so Iâ€™d say I took advantage of it a lot. I mean, how could you not?â€ť
Five players on the roster (Cooley, Hare, McLaughlin, Ross and Smith) will be making their Compher Cup debut this year. With so much young talent on this yearâ€™s team, veteran players like Lu Lu Country Clubâ€™s Glenn Smeraglio and Applecross Country Clubâ€™s David West will serve in leadership roles.
â€śWe have so many great amateur and senior players in the region that being asked to play says you are doing the right things to progress your game,â€ť said West, 56, of Exton, Pa. â€śBeing selected to represent GAP in any honorary team event is always such an extremely rewarding experience.â€ť
In the Compher Cup, each association fields a 12-man team. Players simultaneously compete 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.
The Golf Association of Philadelphia leads the overall series, 35â€“13â€“5. The Compher Cup Matches started, but were rained out, in 2005.
Fred Compher, a former NJSGA 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 New Jerseyâ€™s 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
Golf Association of Philadelphia