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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Area players "boycott" PGA Tour

Written by Bob Oliver on .

The headline says it all. Area players refuse to compete on the PGA Tour! Oh, it's not like they haven't tried, but getting a PGA Tour berth has proven to be harder than even the best players can possibly imagine.  

 

There are a number of outstanding golfers who hail from Bucks County. Yet as strong a group of players as they are, none has developed into a star at the modern upper echelon of golf.

 

Who is the last area player to compete in a PGA Tour event? Mike Laudien, a Bishop Egan and Trenton State graduate. Who was the last area player to regularly compete on the PGA Tour? That would be "Nobody."

 

Washington Crossing's Jon Rusk recently failed to advance past the second stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School, the last hope for a regular berth on the PGA Tour, Nationwide Tour or Champions Tour for a local professional in 2010. Rusk is the most experienced local pro in terms of competing at the highest level of golf, having played two seasons on the Nationwide Tour and competing in 32 events. He made the cut in 10 of those, earning more than $30,000.

 

Getting to "The Show" is just such a hard task. All-World players like Jamie Lovemark, who lost in a playoff at the Frys.com Open this year on the PGA Tour, has no status for next year despite having earned more than $500,000 last year.

 

Rusk is the only area player with extended time on the top pro tours, but others have played here and there.


Bishop Egan High School graduate Gregg Wolff is a club professional in Georgia, but along the way played in 31 Champions, Nationwide and PGA Tour events. On the PGA Tour he earned spots in 18 events, placing 52nd at the 1990 BellSouth Classic and 66th at the 1991 PGA Championship and 1987 Southern Open.

 

Wolff starred at Bucks County Community College before turning pro. In addition to PGA Tour experience he played in 12 Nationwide Tour events over the years and competed in the 2004 Senior United States Open. He's a member of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.

 

Richboro native Duke Delcher played in two PGA Tour Western Opens as well as the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont. He also competed in 23 Nationwide Tour events. Since regaining amateur status he's compiled a national record that includes various championships and a berth on the U.S. Walker Cup team.

 

Sharing third place among area pros competing at golf's highest level is Pennsbury graduate Nick Napoleon, who earned his local spurs in Dennis Milne's program at Trenton Country Club. Napoleon competed in the PGA Tour's 2000 SEI Pennsylvania Classic as well as 25 Nationwide Tour events.

 

Bishop Egan graduate Mike Laudien played in 11 events, including the 1992, 1998 and 2002 PGA Tour's Greater Hartford Open. He also played in the 1998, 2001 and 2006 Buick Classic. Over the years he's competed in six Nationwide Tour events. He currently is a golf professional in New York state.

 

Warrington's Joey Bonargo competed in six Nationwide Tour events while former Ivyland resident Dick Smith played in five Champions Tour events and one PGA Championship. Lower Makefield's Milne played in five Champions Tour events.

 

Neshaminy graduate Bill Walker has played in three Nationwide Tour events while current Jericho National assistant Christian Bartolacci has played in two Nationwide Tour events.

 

Area players have had a taste out of the Holy Grail, but only a taste. The highest levels of golf may be the aspiration of all young golfers, but getting to The Show is one of the hardest tickets to punch in all of sports. Area players just haven't figured out the secret yet.

 

Editor's Note: Sean O'Hair currently lives in West Chester, while Jim Furyk hails from Lancaster, so the Delaware Valley does have two "Tour" players. But closer to home, Bucks County, the shelf is bare.