GAP Widening In Compher Cup

Chalk up another Compher Cup victory for the Golf Association of Philadelphia, 11.5 to 6.5.

That’s a three-peat for GAP in the annual match against the New Jersey State Golf Association, and six of the past seven, if you’re keeping track. The win, at Philmont Country Club last Wednesday, pushes GAP’s advantage in the 51-year competition to 34-12-4. (The match was rained out in 2005.)


Why is the Cup so lopsided? Two GAP team veterans – captain Andy Achenbach (six appearances) and elder statesman Glenn Smeraglio (11 appearances) – offered a couple of theories.

Smeraglio, for starters, questions whether the Compher Cup is as lopsided as the record suggests. “It looks dominating from the outside, if you are looking strictly at the record,” said Smeraglio, 52, whose singles record stands at 6-5-0. “Typically, we seem to eke it out somehow, but the matches are close.”

Achenbach’s best explanation for the disparate GAP dominance is the early-season preparation by GAP Compher Cuppers for the GAP Team Matches, which kicked off the Sunday before the Compher Cup.

Since most members of the GAP Compher Cup team also play on their home club’s top Division AA in the Team Matches, they tend to work on their game early and show up for the annual GAP-NJGA fray with something closer to their A-game.

“The Team Matches help us get juiced up for competition,” said Achenbach, who improved his Compher Cup singles record 5-0-1.

Makes sense. Both the Compher Cup and the Team Matches employ Ryder Cup-style singles and four-ball match formats.

Many players tend to view the Compher Cup as a reward for doing well the year before, since players are picked based on their Player-of-the-Year points from the previous season. Come October, players will measure their success for 2012 by whether they are tapped to be a member of GAP’s team in the Mason-Dixon Matches against the Middle Atlantic Golf Association.

Achenbach, for one, will keep playing in both matches for as long as he can make the team. “It might sound cheesy but for me, it’s our Walker Cup or Ryder Cup,” he said. “It’s the biggest thing I am going to get invited to. And for all the stuff the association does for us players, it’s an easy decision to represent GAP in any team event they have.”

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After Week 1 of the Team Matches, Little Mill Country Club is off to a good start in defending its title.

In Division AA, the heavyweight division of the Team Matches, Little Mill is one of eight teams spread across four sections to win their opening matches.

Division AA teams at 1-0 are (Section 1) Philadelphia Cricket and Fox Hill; (Section 2) Little Mill and Huntingdon Valley CC; (Section 3) Tavistock CC and Overbrook GC; and (Section 4) Merion GC and Mercer Oaks GC.

Obviously, all of this will change after the results from yesterday’s Week 2 matches are finalized and posted on the GAP website. There is also the fact that Week 1 results are about as telling as the score after two innings of a Phillies game.

The most lopsided match of Week 1 was Merion’s 40-14 rout of Hartefeld National. The slimmest margin of victory was Fox Hill’s 28.5-25.5 defeat of Moselem Springs.

Considering how the miserable weather was across the region, it’s a testament to the show-must-go-on spirit of the competition that not one match was called off because of rain.

After Week 3 of the Team Matches, the top team in each of the four Sections of Division AA will square off in a final day of playoffs on Saturday, May 12, the same day as challenge matches.

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Just a couple of weeks ago, GAP released a new smartphone app. Now, in short order, the association has unveiled a fresh new look for its website, www.gapgolf.org, plus launched a Facebook page.

The website has retained the bold, green colors of old, only with a cleaner, more modern look, and with a few more bells and whistles. GAP executive director Mark Peterson opted for the makeover because the earlier incarnation had become cluttered over time.

“We’d added a new thing here, and a new thing there, until it was just too much,” said Peterson, likening the website to an old house that they’d just kept adding rooms to.

GAP also is kicking off its Facebook page with a poll asking voters to pick which team in the Team Matches they should cover on GAPTV.

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Qualifiers are just around the corner for two of the season’s biggest events.

On May 8, the first of two qualifiers for the Amateur Championship will be held at Tavistock CC. The second qualifier is May 17 at Penn Oaks CC. The Amateur will be June 12-14 and 16 at Huntingdon Valley CC.

GAP also will run two qualifiers for the U.S. Open. The first is May 10 at Trump National-Philadelphia; the second is May 14 at Back Creek GC.

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