Open Championship History
108th Open Championship visits Pine Valley Golf Club
What happens when the nation’s No. 1 golf course welcomes a Golf Association of Philadelphia Major? Find out July 23 as the exalted Pine Valley Golf Club opens its gates to the organization’s 108th Open Championship.
Seventy-two of the region’s top amateurs and professionals will descend upon the prestigious property, hoping to depart with a Major title in addition to a batch of lifelong memories.
“I’m optimistic that if I play smart, I can hopefully do pretty well,” defending champion Andrew Mason of Huntingdon Valley Country Club said. “I think the key is not looking around the whole time and realizing where you are.”
This marks only the fourth time that the Open Championship will grace Pine Valley’s grandeur. In 1923, Clarence Hackney, a professional from Atlantic City Country Club, prevailed by a whopping 13 strokes — the event’s largest margin of victory on record. Pine Valley staged even more excitement and drama in 1941. After posting a 147 total, Joseph “Bud” Lewis received congratulations and handshakes from friends, who assured the longtime Manufacturers Golf & Country Club head professional that he won. However, Terl Johnson, a professional from Plymouth Country Club, carded a 68 in the final round to edge Lewis by a stroke.
Open Championship drama at Pine Valley resurfaced a decade ago, when John Appleget, now a teaching professional out of Wildwood Golf & Country Club, bested John DiMarco, Laurel Creek Country Club’s head professional, in an 18-hole playoff by four strokes. Both players finished a demanding test tied at 4-over-par 144.
“It was the biggest thing I ever won,” Appleget, 47, of Dorothy, N.J., said. “It was just a neat day. At that golf course when we played, it was a case of whoever played well would win.”
One would expect the dramatics to continue at the South Jersey sanctuary, where scoring will prove difficult. Last year, Mason, 23, was the only player who break par in a stellar seven-stroke victory on his home course. The Huntingdon Valley, Pa. resident also captured the Patterson Cup and Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Amateur Championship en route to William Hyndman, III Player of the Year honors. He enters Pine Valley with credentials that naturally chisel Mason as a favorite among the amateur crop.
“I tried to play in a lot of bigger events this year and haven’t done too well, not because I don’t think I’m good enough to be there. I just haven’t played well,” Mason said. “It's been kind of frustrating. Last year was a confidence booster. I knew that I can play well and I think that raises expectations. While that’s a good thing, sometimes you need to temper those expectations. I’m going to be accepting a mediocre shot more often.”
Joining Mason as previous Open titleholders in this year’s field are Stu Ingraham of M Golf Driving Range (1994), Brian Kelly of Bucknell Golf Club (2000, 2003), David Quinn of Links Golf Club (2006) and Rich Steinmetz of Spring Ford Country Club (2009). Appleget returns to a place where he earned his only Open triumph.
“I would have high expectations, but I had my left knee operated on two months ago,” he said. “It’s a long day, walking 36 holes. I hope to be able to do it.”
Among the amateurs vying for the 2012 Open crown are John Brennan of Philadelphia Cricket Club, the reigning Middle-Amateur Champion; Michael Brown of Philadelphia Publinks GA, the 2010 Open Champion; Michael McDermott of Merion Golf Club, five-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year and James Kania, Jr. of Overbrook Golf Club, the 2009 William Hyndman, III Player of the Year.
The Golf Association of Philadelphia serves as the sole administrator of the Open Championship. In 2007, it increased the field size from 60 to 72 players.
Forty-one players secured a spot in the field by qualifying at Bellewood Golf Club, Indian Valley Country Club, Whitford Country Club or Woodcrest Country Club. The remaining 31 earned exemptions based on previous results. There are 42 amateurs and 30 professionals in the field.
Participants include professionals who are members in good standing of the Philadelphia Section PGA, head professionals of GAP Member Clubs and amateurs who are members of member clubs and carry a handicap index of 7.0 or less.
The $50,000 Philadelphia Open purse, for professionals, is the most lucrative in Golf Association of Philadelphia history with the winner receiving a record check of $10,000.
In the event’s history, only eight individual amateurs have won the Open. Mason’s win last year was just the 14th time an amateur has finished on top of the leaderboard. Jay Sigel finished first six times, William Hyndman, III twice and the other handful once each.
Those wishing to attend the 108th Open Championship must purchase tickets in advance. Cost is $10. Tickets are limited and only available online at the Golf Association of Philadelphia store. All proceeds benefit the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust.
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 145 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.