The Rose Factor

And who are the best of Philly? Well it could be Pat’s or Gino’s in South Philly or maybe Steve’s Prince of Steaks in the Northeast if you’re looking for a great local cheesesteak. For a great hot roast beef sandwich, I go to Nick’s Roast Beef at 20t and Jackson.

But for the Rose Factor’s Best of Philly, let’s identify the best golfers in the Delaware Valley, the players you’ll be reading about in the papers this year or hearing about on Sports Radio 950 and Comcast Sportsnet. Philadelphia has long been known for producing great amateur golfers, some of the greatest in the history of the game, names like William Hyndman the 3rd, Jay Sigel, O. Gordon Brewer, Jr. and this year’s Walker Cup captain, George “Buddy” Marucci.

In today’s world of tournament golf, you have to look to the youth of the region. They are hitting the ball so far it’s scary. They’ve taken the new technology and really run with it. Drives well over 300 yards are the norm, six-irons from 200 yards, wedges in from 145 or more. All that certainly helps, but the winners always come from those who are best from 100 yards and in.

Last year, no one did that better than GAP Player of the Year Kyle Davis. His short game set him apart at the GAP Amateur at Torresdale-Frankford and in winning the Pa. State Open, the first amateur to win since 1990. With another year of tough college golf under his belt, he’ll be tougher than ever to unseat.

The pool of talented young players under 25 is deep indeed and starts with last year’s Patterson Cup and Silver Cross winner, Steve Arnold from Yardley. Other top players just out of college or working their way through include, former Amateur champ Billy Stewart from Llanerch, Chris Ault from Yardley, Dan Walters from Media Heights, John Michael Pelet from Wyncote and Brandon Detweiler from Lancaster. I also like two other 19-year olds, Conrad Von Borsig from Concord and Nathan Sutherland, both a little raw but with tons of potential.

For my money, you can’t ever count out those heady, experienced players, veterans of years of grinding it out on the local amateur tour. They work hard for a living, but enjoy their spare time, battling it out against the young flatbellies. And they can hit it pretty long too. Some have tried turning pro, the others maybe thought about it. At the top of this list is Pa. Mid Am champ Jim Sullivan, Jr. from Huntingdon Valley. Jim tried the mini tours with some success, but too many missed cuts and four kids set him straight on priorities. He’s now working in the insurance business and happy to be playing amateur golf. Joining Jim in this tough 30-45 bracket are last year’s GAP Am runner up Paul Rogowicz from Yardley, 2-time Am champ Mike Tash from Tavistock and his clubmates Jamie Slonis and Tom Gramigna. Other names you’ll see on a consistent basis are Michael McDermott from Merion, Chet Walsh from Phila CC, Brian Gillespie from St. Davids, Mike Danner from LuLu and Jim Kieserman from Talamore.

It used to be that players in their 40’s and early 50’s were just killing time waiting to make it to the senior tour. Don’t tell that to Vijay Singh, Fred Funk, Corey Pavin and Mark Calcavecchia. Their games are as strong as ever and they are consistently winning, or near the top of the leaderboard. The same is true in the Delaware Valley, where these “old” guys are still kicking butt on the youngsters. At the top of this list is Overbrook’s Chris Lange who, at 52, will be going for his third straight GAP Mid Am title. His win in 2005 gave Chris the GAP Grand Slam, the only player to win all 4 major GAP events.

Finishing second to Chris last year at the Mid Am was Chip Lutz from Ledgerock. At 52, Chip gets better with age and will be the favorite to win GAP’s Marston Cup when it’s held at his home course in August. Last year’s Marston Cup winner was Glenn Smeraglio from Yardley, always a consistent contender in any event he plays. Other “not quite over the hillers” are Roc Irey from Cedarbrook, John Robinson from Commonwealth, Billy McGuiness from Tavistock, Oscar Mestre from Overbrook and Mike Domenick from Phoenixville.

Forget about the walkers, canes and wheelchairs, today’s 55+ senior golfers can beat anyone, anywhere, at anytime, on any given day. Us old guys are staying in shape and maximizing our games with fairways hit, greens in regulation and strong short games. Players like 2006 GAP Senior champ Robin McCool won the Arizona Mid Am last year and three-time Senior Silver Cross winner David Brookreson won the Lynnewood Hall Mid Am in ’06. Competition will again be keen this year in the Senior bracket, with Overbrook’s Andy Thompson and Frank McFadden near the top of the rankings. 2006 GAP Senior Player of the Year, Bill Lawler from Fox Hill, has a full schedule of events booked. My dark horse is GAP President Dan Burton from Bent Creek. I played with him this winter in Florida and he’s really looking good. Others to watch include Mike Dougherty and Craig Scott from HVCC, Super Senior Charley McClaskey, Tom Dicinti from Little Mill and never count out “The Rose Factor”, the body may be falling apart, but the mind is still there. Should be fun.

Last, but never least, are the up and coming stars of the future, our region’s best juniors. Still only 15, current and 2-time GAP Junior Player of the Year, Robert Galbreath, Jr. is still growing, now 5’10” and 205 pounds of muscle and maturing mentally as well. He’s the favorite, but will be tested by the likes of GAP ’06 Junior Champ Matt Raudenbush from Pine Valley, Christmn Cup winner Daniel Charen from Yardley and Harry Hammond Cup winner Bobby Arthur from Riverton. And it won’t be a surprise to anyone if you see winners from the likes of brothers James and Michael Kania from Overbrook, James Tallent from Merion, or Kevin Huntington from Penn Oaks.

A toast to the “Best of Philly”. Winners get a FREE cheesesteak and some fries courtesy of THE ROSE FACTOR.


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