Co-champions crowned in Father & Son (Younger) at Bellewood
POTTSTOWN, Pa. — Two teams shared the spotlight — a steamy one albeit — in the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s 61st Father & Son (Younger) Monday at a sweltering Bellewood Country Club (par 71, 6,306 yards).
Philadelphia Country Club’s Will and William Keane, Jr. and Wilmington Country Club’s Colman and Randy Mitchell carded 1-over-par 72s to become co-champions. The event’s format is selective drive/alternate shot.
Both teams used consistency and persistency to counter oppressive humidity Monday. Temperatures reached 100 degrees and suffocated swings throughout the day.
The Keane team, which played in the morning, survived with strategy, style (matching outfits an annual must) and skill.
“We were fortunate that when one of us was in trouble, the other one wasn’t,” Will, 49, said. “Out here, if you have uphill putts, you could be pretty aggressive. The beauty of it was even the putts that we were putting defensively, when we had comebackers, they were uphill. If you have a downhiller out here, that ages you pretty quickly. There wasn’t a lot of gray hairs made.”
“We had a good chemistry. I think that’s the key,” William, Jr., 17, an incoming junior at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, added. “We knew where to leave shots and eliminated the big number.”
A kick-in birdie on the par 4, 363-yard 13th hole kickstarted the Newtown Square, Pa. residents. William, Jr. landed a wedge from 105 yards on the downslope, watched it release accordingly and heard his playing partners shout as it grazed the flagstick. Will also cleaned up a team birdie on No. 11 (par 4, 359 yards) after his son knocked a 6-iron 170 yards to 15 feet. The elder Keane also raved about his teammate’s approach on No. 4 (par 4, 406 yards): a pitching wedge from 130 yards to eight feet.
“He hit the ball straight up in the air. It came down like a butterfly with no feet. It landed super soft,” Will said.
Mother Nature finally gassed the Keane team on its last hole (No. 9, par 4, 427 yards). Sweat and fatigue swarmed their swings. Will, Jr. left a 7-iron from 165 yards short of the putting surface — “a decent miss” that gave his dad the chip/putt option. Will elected to attacked a back-center hole location with a putter. Will, Jr. couldn’t convert a mid-range look to save par.
In years past, it’s been a tale of two nines for the Keane team: subpar start, sluggish finish, slow start, solid finish. Maturity — individually and collectively — made the difference Monday.
“The thought down the stretch was, ‘Just hit it smooth. Not hard, but smooth,’” Will, Jr. said.
“He’s gotten dramatically better as a partner. He doesn’t let the bad shot get under his skin,” Will, a clinical analyst Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, added. “It’s been a pleasure to watch the maturation process. There’s nothing more thrilling than watching your son grow, not only as a player, but also emotionally. It’s a proud moment for me as a dad.”
Pride is written all over Randy Mitchell’s face when it comes to the Father & Son (Younger).
“This is my favorite event on the calendar,” Randy, 57, said. “We had a great time as always. He hasn’t touched a club in more than a month so we weren’t expecting this.”
“I’m not playing a lot of golf. I’ve been working at the beach,” Colman, 16, added. “Today was really fun, especially being out here with my dad.”
Colman is working as a busboy at Grotto’s Pizza in Rehoboth Beach, Del. He did, as Randy readily admitted, the grunt work Monday, striping drives and burying putts to keep the Wilmington, Del. residents in contention.
Three straight birdies on the front nine best exemplify his handiwork. Colman’s boom drives gave Randy wedges inside 50 yards. He returned the favor by leaving Colman, an incoming junior at Salesianum School, with birdie putts of five and four feet on Nos. 3 (par 4, 344 yards) and 4 (par 4, 406 yards), respectively. Colman dropped a 20-footer in the side door on No. 5 (par 4, 411 yards) following Randy’s pitching wedge from 128 yards.
That birdie trio avenged a double bogey on No. 2 (par 5, 490 yards), where the Mitchell team took an unplayable from the fescue. Both players missed the No. 6 (par 3, 140 yards) green; Randy, the 2016 GAP Senior Amateur Champion, missed a two-footer for par on the next hole (par 5, 503 yards), and the duo turned in 1 over as a result.
The Mitchell team, which won the event’s Junior-Junior title in 2015, channeled its championship mettle to match the Keanes. Colman’s driver, a weapon of wonder on this day, placed Randy in the front bunker for the team’s second shot on No. 13 (par 4, 363 yards). He played the green’s front-to-back slope accordingly, splashing out to 15 feet. Colman cleaned up the birdie putt. A three-putt on the next hole (par 3, 159 yards) ultimately meant a co-champion designation.
Colman and Randy previously earned that status in 2012 (Junior-Junior Division). Randy and his son Davis hold four Father & Son titles (2010-11, 2013-14) as well.
Applause erupted for their co-champions in the event’s Junior-Junior Division (par 71, 5,707 yards).
“The boys get together and play golf together quite a bit. [The Thomas’] were watching us for the last four or five holes,” Nicholas, 45, of West Chester, Pa., said. “It put a little extra pressure on us, in a supportive way.”
The families met through Benjamin and Win’s participation in the Philadelphia Junior Tour. Coincidentally, the kids offered identical responses when asked to reflect upon their respective experiences at Bellewood.
“It was a fun day. The course was nice,” Win, 13, of Unionville, Pa., said. “I felt like we left some shots.”
“It was fun but we obviously left a few shots out there,” Benjamin, 13, an Applecross Country Club member, added. “It was fun playing with my dad.”
The Thomas team laments a double bogey on the par 4, 346-yard 16th hole. A heavy wedge by Bill, 56, left Win, an incoming eighth grader at Upland Country Day School, with a difficult lie in the front bunker. Stuck in the Saggers’ crawl is a five-footer for birdie on No. 17 (par 3, 155 yards) that rotated 360-degrees on the cup. The team’s birdie on the 18th hole — a 10-footer by Benjamin, an incoming eighth grader at SS. Philip & James School, following a 109-yard gap wedge by dad — eased the pain.
“We complimented each other really well,” Nicholas, 45, said. “I got the ball in play off the tee. He hit nice irons in. We were able to make a few putts.”
“The spirit of the event is what it’s all about,” Bill added. “It’s an opportunity for dads to share in competition with their sons. The format is quite fun.”
The Father & Son (Younger) tournament is for those father and son teams with sons 17 years of age and under.
Golf Association of Philadelphia