Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

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July 2007 - Mark Miller

Written by Bob Oliver on .

From rags to riches overnight. That could be a quick summary of Mark Miller’s game in a one week span this summer.
The 21-year-old was in the midst of a whirlwind series of tournament play when he nerves started to fray. A few poor shots later and the Yardley Country Club member was totally frustrated with his game.

It went from being a strong B game to a C…good, but not good enough, starting down hill in the Pennsylvania State Amateur and into the middle of the YCC men’s club championship.

Several holes into his semifinal match with Steve Arnold exhaustion then frustration set in, prompting Miller to do the unthinkable: concede his match early and head home for rest. “I was playing alright, the match was close, but as I stood over a shot my mind wasn’t totally there, I had burnt myself out,” explained Miller. “Steve understood, he could tell my mind was not totally in the game.”

Miller spent the rest of that day and the next away from golf. No playing, mo practice, no walking the course. He did, though, remember a drill that had helped him in the past. . "I thought back to when my game was at a higher level, and then remembered a drill my coach gave me. It involves taking practice swings with flashlights and watching the plane of my swing. After an hour or so it all clicked."

He arrived for his tee time at the Philadelphia Open Championship at historic Merion (East) in a rejuvenated state of mind and hauling his A Game. With his head in the game his swing followed, and with little fanfare he became the first amateur from Bucks County to win the Golf Association of Philadelphia's Open Championship.

The Yardley Country Club member and Bucks County Community College student from Levittown was a picture of perfection at Merion, defeating 71 players with rounds of 71 and 69 for an even-par 140 total. That gave him a one-shot win over Sunnybrook assistant professional Mark Sheftic.

The victory propelled Miller to Player of the Month honors from www.golfbuckscounty.com.

His game plan was simple. “It was to basically hit fairways and greens and try to make some putts, it was as simple as that,” said Miller. “You have to keep the ball in play at Merion, and I was fortunate enough to do that for most of the 36 holes.”

Miller balanced seven birdies against seven bogeys at the course which has hosted 17 United States Golf Association championship events. A course which USGA executive director David Fay calls a “wonderful test of golf.”

Miller's quest nearly came to an early end when he accidentally stepped on his ball while searching in the long rough guarding a bunker on the 14th hole during the 2nd round. He incurred a one-shot penalty, but retained his wits and made bogey. “I was peeved, but somehow I shook it off,” said Miller, who saw his 3-shot advantage shrink by 1 after the penalty and by 1 more when he jerked a tap-in putt on 16. But he sank a pressure-packed 14-footer on 17 for par then played the famed 18th hole perfect to secure the win.

"I knew where I was most of the day, kicked myself for giving back a couple shots but am proud of the way I handled adversity," said Miller.
Coming back from a burnout to play well is one thing, winning one of the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s major championships is another huge step in the growth of his game.