Gordon Brewer’s Quiet Legacy

I was kicking around column ideas with my editor at Global Golf Post a few days ago when I mentioned that the GAP tournament underway at the moment was the Brewer Cup, named in honor of O. Gordon Brewer.

“Who was he?” asked my editor, who lives in St. Petersburg, Fla.


“Not was … is,” I told him. “Gordon Brewer is still very much alive and kickin’. In fact, he probably played in the tournament.”

I checked and sure enough, Brewer was in the field of last week’s Brewer Cup, GAP’s annual match-play championship for Seniors and Super-Seniors. This year, Brewer, 75, was gracious enough not to win the tournament named for him, as he did (Super-Senior division) in the inaugural Brewer Cup, in 2008.

Winners of fifth Brewer Cup, at LedgeRock GC, were a couple of familiar veterans: Thomas Bartolacci Jr. of Saucon Valley CC and, in the Super-Senior Division, Mike Rose of Talamore CC. Congratulations to both of them.

But back to O. Gordon Brewer for another well-deserved moment in the spotlight. On the national golf stage, Brewer is known for several reasons. Among those who run in the most exclusive golf circles, Brewer commands a certain respect and deference for his tenure as president of Pine Valley GC, from 1998 to 2010.

As a player, he made it into a mind-boggling 42 USGA national championships, capping his competitive career with two victories in the U.S. Senior Amateur (1994, ’96). In 2002, Brewer the captained the U.S. team in the World Amateur Team Championships, and in 2009, the USGA tapped him for the Bob Jones Award, in recognition for the “principles of competition and sportsmanship.”

Brewer also was caught up in a bit of golfing controversy. He was a member of the USGA’s Executive Committee – in fact, he was chairman of the Implements and Balls Committee – during the late 1990s, when the game’s ruling body was clashing bitterly and publicly with the leading equipment manufacturers about how far high-tech drivers could hit the ball. Remember the term “spring-like effect?”

Back then, Gordon Brewer was the USGA’s man out front.

How ironic, then, that in March, Brewer’s son, Chip, was named CEO of Callaway Golf, the very company that produced the ERC II driver and led the fight against the USGA’s so-called “line in the sand” to protect the integrity of the game. Anyway, these days and those battles are far behind.

Locally, of course, Brewer is known for his long career as a competitor, which includes two GAP Amateur titles and two GAP Senior Amateur titles, not to mention his slew of club championships at Pine Valley and his wins in Pine Valley’s annual invitational tournament, the Crump Cup.

In 2011, Brewer was inducted into the GAP Hall of Fame, an elite fraternity to say the least. Oddly, perhaps, he earned that recognition without ever having served as president of GAP or even as a member of its Executive Committee.

Brewer’s presence was felt and appreciated around the GAP headquarters, however. Without notice or fanfare, he devoted enormous time and effort as a member of the board of the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship from 1981 to 1993, serving as chairman from 1988 to ’92.

Other footnotes include his term as president of the Pennsylvania Golf Association (in 1975) and a member of the board of the PGA of America, from 2001 to 2003.

All this from a guy who never touched a golf club until he was 19 years old. Growing up in Winston-Salem, N.C., Brewer played baseball and basketball (at Guilford College), until one day he found his way a local driving range. After a bucket or two, the owner of the range invited Brewer to join him for a round at the local muni. Brewer did and immediately he was hooked.

Although he is long gone from his native North Carolina, Brewer still speaks softly, slowly and with a with a hint of Tar Heel. Although he is thoughtful, opinionated and resolute, Brewer is quiet and unassuming, ill at ease as the center of attention. You get the sense he happily could go unnoticed in the center of a cocktail party.

On Friday, I called one of the guys at GAP to ask how, exactly, the Brewer Cup came to be called the Brewer Cup. Back in 2008, he said, they were trying to come up with a name for the new Senior match-play championship they were starting.

“Mr. Brewer just sort of embodied everything,” I was told. “Competitiveness, sportsmanship, dedication to GAP and the game.”

Made sense to me.

——-

As of Friday, GAP had sold 1,100 tickets to the Philadelphia Open Championship, set for July 23 at Pine Valley.

GAP is prepared to sell 2,500 tickets to the championship, which is returning to Pine Valley for the first time since 2002. Realistically, they expect to sell about 1,500 tickets.

Tickets cost $10 and are available only on the GAP website; details about purchasing tickets and parking also are there. All proceeds will go to the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Fund.

If you’re looking for a commemorative item, Open Championship hats, with a Pine Valley logo on the side, will be on sale at the event.

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