|Trever Mertz is one of four Schuylkill Country Club newcomers.|
Former Golden Oaks members find new BMW GTM life at Schuylkill
Imagine arriving at the turnstile of the world’s premier roller coaster, only to realize that your ticket is no longer in your pocket.
| Week Two recap | Week Two results | Schedule |
Those who represented Golden Oaks Golf Club in the BMW GAP Team Matches know the feeling. The club’s first team ascended the ranks and finally earned a Division AA spot in 2015. Golden Oaks defeated Mercer Oaks Golf Course, 31–23, in a Challenge Match.
“Last year was epic,” Philip Rothermel, 25, of Kutztown, Pa., said. “We had a great team and a great group of guys that could all really play. It was something we had all been working toward for a couple of years leading up to that point. In 2014, we had challenged Tavistock (Country Club) and lost by two points. We kind of wanted to get revenge and get to AA, which is a pretty big accomplishment. We wanted to prove to Philly that we were this little club from Fleetwood that could get it around.”
That opportunity never came to fruition. Golden Oaks underwent new ownership, Raspberry Golf Management, in January. Officials subsequently informed the Golf Association of Philadelphia that the club wouldn’t be a member in 2016, thus rendering Golden Oaks ineligible for the BMW GAP Team Matches.
“It’s kind of depressing because for us in Berks County, Golden Oaks was one of the meeting points for the guys who were west and east. It was a nice, easy place for us to play,” Ryan Kline, 23, of Kutztown, Pa., said.
Close friends since childhood, Kline and Rothermel, along with teammates Trever Mertz and Jared Palubinski, left Golden Oaks and joined Schuylkill Country Club. The shift — 30 miles between both sites notwithstanding — satisfied a collective desire to remain competitive on the BMW GAP Team Matches front.
“It was a thrill to reach AA [with Golden Oaks] and a real shame that we had to forfeit our standing in the ranks, but we’re hoping to get back there with a new squad,” Mertz, 31, of Kutztown, Pa., said. “It’s been very competitive. We get good weekday matches to promote strong play. It’s a very competitive atmosphere, similar to what we had at Golden Oaks. I don’t think we’re quite as deep right now as we were at Golden Oaks, but I think with a couple of additions, we’ll be on that AA path.”
“I definitely wanted to stay a part of the GAP. It has to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, associations in the country in my opinion,” Rothermel, who works for Allstate, said. “It was a type of ‘Under 40’ membership that gave us access to a pretty good rate and allowed a couple of guys to move up to Schuylkill. It’s a great Donald Ross course that most people in Philadelphia don’t know about.”
Section 14 is certainly taking notice of Schuylkill and its Golden Oaks’ transplants in 2016. The club’s first team boasts a 2–0 record and 69.5 points. Through two weeks, Kline and Palubinski rank fourth with 9.5 points total points. Rothermel posted 2.5 singles points in his lone appearance. Mertz ranks fifth on the Schuylkill team with 7.5 points.
“We fit in right away,” Palubinski, 25, of Hamburg, Pa., said. “Ten of our 12 guys are under 32 [years of age] so it makes it fun. We really like Schuylkill. We tee off at 4:30 after work and can play our own little game. We’ll play as many holes as we can until it’s dark.”
“The older membership is very accommodating as well. It really seems like they want to have a competitive GAP team. We’re open to the idea of sitting some players who have normally played in the past,” Mertz, who works for East Penn Manufacturing, said. “I don’t think you always see that.”
Course differences helped the Schuylkill newcomers sharpen their respective games for the BMW GAP Team Matches.
“Schuylkill has very undulating greens, kind of like Moselem (Springs Golf Club). That always challenges you on the short putts and makes you focus on everything,” Kline, who works for Sittler Golf Center, a facility owned and operated by his parents, said. “It’s a big change because Golden Oaks is wide open with big greens. You could strike the ball and putt not as well, but still score well. At Schuylkill, I’ve posted a couple of 77s this year just from putting alone.”
“The green complexes at Schuylkill are very challenging. You can’t really get above the flagstick,” Palubinski, a caddie at Saucon Valley Country Club, added. “Schuylkill’s improved my accuracy off the tee. It’s a little tighter and you have to be able to work the ball both left-to-right, right-to-left. I think I’ve gotten better with that this year.”
In Week Three, Schuylkill will square off against Meadia Heights Golf Club (0–2).
“We’re going to give them our best and hopefully we can get a win and a challenge next week. We’re not taking them lightly,” Palubinski said.
“I think we’re going to try and make another run to the top,” Rothermel said. “It may take a little longer this time.”
Should be worth the wait. If Schuylkill keeps the ticket in its pocket.
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 153 Full Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. 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.