|Kyle Vance of the GAP Junior Players Club was one of four Team Philadelphia representatives.|
Team Philadelphia enjoys Williamson experience
BETHLEHEM, Pa.–Once every decade, the prestigious Williamson Cup makes it way to the Philadelphia area. This year, the Golf Association of Philadelphia held the rare honor of hosting the 52nd installment at Saucon Valley Country Club (Weyhill Course) in Bethlehem, Pa.
Tournament recap |
Team Scorecards |
Individuals Scorecards |
Video recap |
Evan Brown of Hartefeld National; Jack Melville of Lu Lu Country Club; Max Siegfried of Aronimink Golf Club and Kyle Vance of the GAP Junior Players Club represented Team GAP.
The foursome finished in a tie for third place with the Pennsylvania State Golf Association. Both teams posted a two-round total of 456.
The Williamson Cup is regarded as one of the nation’s most prestigious Junior golf events. It features 40 junior players from 10 state and regional golf associations in 36 holes of stroke play. The low three scores of each four-man team in each round count toward the team total.
As is tradition, and one of the main focuses of the event, each player is paired with a host family to provide a relaxed environment off the course. Siegfried and Vance were paired with the Warner family, whose patriarch, Andrew, is a former Saucon Valley president. Melville and Brown were hosted by the Ryan family.
“[It was] a great experience and the family was great people and really nice,” said Vance, 16, of Audubon, Pa. “We actually played basketball with the son [Drew] last night and it was a really fun experience.”
All of the players’ activities off the golf course are chaperoned by host families, who also assist in transporting them to the course. To build relationships with individuals from other parts of the country, or world, has been a crucial goal over the years of the Williamson Cup Matches.
“It definitely completes the tournament,” said Melville, 17, of Maple Glen, Pa. “Really nice people, the Ryans, offering up their house. They’re really close to the course, so we could wake up later.”
The GAP players arrived at the course early Wednesday morning with a mindset of winning the event for the first time since 2000. The team gathered before the first round for some words of inspiration.
“Not a pep talk, but we said, ‘Let’s get it done and let’s get the win here,’ ” said Vance. “We tried to go low in the first round, but it didn’t really work out.”
After the morning wave, the GAP stood in third place. The level of competition became evident from the beginning, but that didn’t stop the players from displaying the gentlemen demeanor that lies as a backbone of the event.
“It’s really fun, everyone is really nice,” said Melville. “But you can tell it’s competitive, everyone wants to win. It adds a nice edge to it, which I like.”
The GAP players, while paired in different groups, didn’t pass up on the opportunity to check up on their fellow teammates during their rounds. Players are often familiar with opposing teams through various Junior leagues and tours, as well.
“Every four or five holes I’d see a teammate and ask how they were doing and checking up on them,” said Vance, who fired rounds of 72 and 74 to finish as the low Team Philadelphia representative. “Brent [Ito] and I were tied after the first [round] so that was competition right there and I knew Mark [Goetz] from another tournament. We’re all friends when we’re out there, but it’s still competition.”
The course proved to be another tough opponent for the GAP players, with conditions changing between rounds.
“[In] the afternoon round, the greens got a lot faster,” said Melville, who carded rounds of 81 and 77. “We think they rolled the greens between rounds because the hole areas were really beat up.”
Siegfried, 17, of Villanova, Pa., shot rounds of 75 and 79, while Brown, 16, of Chadds Ford, Pa., carded a 79 and 81. Although the outcome was not as expected, the lasting effects of competing in the tournament will provide memories and friendships for years to come.
“I definitely tried as hard as I could and tried my best,” said Melville. “I’m a little disappointed to let my team down, but it was really a great experience overall.”
“It was so much fun,” said Vance. “With the teammates I had, I’m all friends with them, so it was really a fun blast.”
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 151 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.