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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Tour cupboard half full or half empty?

Written by Bob Oliver on .

Sometimes the glass is half empty, sometimes it's half full.


When it comes to the highest level of professional golf visiting Delaware Valley fairways, the glass has been pretty empty.


The last regularly scheduled PGA Tour event that made its way onto the schedule was the 2000 SEI Pennsylvania Golf Classis held at Waynesborough Country Club. Chris DiMarco won that championship, kick-starting a stellar decade of play.


Prior to that you have to go back to the IVB Philadelphia Golf Classic at Whitemarsh Valley. The list of IVB champions included such name players as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Hubert Green and Tom Kite.  In the 1940s and 1950s Torresdale-Frankford, Llanerch and Cobbs Creek hosted Tour events.


The Senior PGA Tour, now Champions Tour, filled the men's tour gap for years, as various events were played at Chester Valley, While Manor and the TPC at Jasna Polana. Winners included Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Chi Chi Rodriquez and the Delaware Valley's own Jay Sigel.


The LPGA was a huge success in the area, with the ShopRite Classic being held at the Seaview Golf Resort and Greate Bay down the shore and the McDonalds' Kids Classic and later McDonald's LPGA Championship being played at the DuPont Country Club for years. Juli Inkster, Laura Davies, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak and Beth Daniel claimed titles over the years.


Over the last couple years, though, the cupboard has been bare. The LPGA Championship moved to Bulle Rock near Baltimore, quarrels with the LPGA saw the ShopRite end and the PGA Tour...well, it does its best to ignore the Philadelphia marketplace.


At least the area can count on the United States Golf Association. The USGA held its Women's U.S. Open at Saucon Valley last summer, and will hold the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion (East) in Ardmore.


"We love the Delaware Valley and we are excited at having Merion host the 2013 U.S. Open," David Fay of the USGA told me recently. "It's a historic course, and don't let its length fool you, it has teeth. Length isn't the prime decision maker when you consider a great, challenging golf course."


The AT&T National, which has been played the last couple years at Congressional near Washington, D.C., is being played this summer at Aronimink in Newtown Square. Of course, doesn't it figure that the featured player, defending champion and (former) host of the event, Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, has been all over the tabloids and will likely not defend his championship.


But at least the PGA Tour will have a one-year presence in the Delaware Valley July 1-4. Great players battling Aronimink.


And June 18-20 will see the LPGA return to Seaview for the new ShopRite LPGA Classic.


So, at least for 2010, the many of the best players in the world will visit the Delaware Valley.


"I have fond memories of the Philadelphis area," Jack Nicklaus told me several years ago. "Merion, Whitemarsh, you name it. Lots of great memories, lots of wonderful courses."


Still, having a little taste of superb golfers visiting is better than none. While it's a far cry from when Sam Snead was winning a Tour title (1941 Henry Hurst Invitational) at Torresdale-Frankford, at least it's a start. Here's hoping the next decade is better than the last in terms of the best golfers in the world visiting our area.