Peter Barron (NJSGA photo)
There are some beautiful and prestigious clubs in New York and New Jersey. Many of them take turns in the host rotation of Metropolitan Golf Association or New Jersey G.A. events.
But hosting annual tournaments on weekends is difficult for these clubs due to the short golf season, so another type of annual event has become popular — the one day 27 or 36 hole medal play championship. Depending on the weather and course setup, these events will really test the best players.
Unfortunately one of the gems of the one-day bunch -- The Hochster Memorial at Quaker Ridge scheduled for June 22 -- was cancelled due to coronavirus, but the Arcola Cup at Arcola Country Club is still on the calendar for July, and the Eagle Oaks Invitational was played today with safety measures in place.
It was a beautiful New Jersey day, and a field of 72 primarily Mid-Amateur players teed it up at Eagle Oaks for their 36-hole Invitational. I spoke to longtime New Jersey Mid-Amateur standout Michael Stamberger about the tournament, which was headed for a three-way playoff.
"It was a little different," said Stamberger. "We were asked to wear masks before entering the clubhouse, and the regular luncheon between rounds turned into box lunches in the carts."
But, according to Stamberger, single rider carts took 1/2 hour off each round. And the Eagle Oaks was one of the first tournaments we know of to implement a suggestion I made in my article Tournament Best Practices for COVID-19 Safety -- they gave each golfer their own sanitized rake to place in their individual cart.
Stamberger posted 74-72 - not his best golf but certainly a respectable top-10 showing that put him in front of many top players, including former Met Amateur champ Matthew Mattare. Mattare shook his morning rust off (an 80) by improving a full 12 shots in the afternoon, with a 3-under 68 in the afternoon.
Jim Dufficy of Tinton Falls, NJ did Mattare three better on the improvement front, posting 81-66 after opening the afternoon with birdies on five of the first seven holes. (Three in a row on Hole Nos. 2-4 and back-to-back on Nos. 6 and 7.) Not giving up after taking a double on the par-3 11th, Dufficy eagled the 17th and parred No. 18 to post the low round of the day, and the biggest round to round improvement - 15 strokes.
We're not sure what was in that box lunch, but Dufficy must have liked it.
The three-way playoff was decided in a hurry, as Peter Barron of Mays Landing, NJ chipped in on No. 18 to defeat Dawson Jones (Howell, NJ) and Eric Lefante (Bedminster, NJ).
Barron is a member of Galloway National who often plays in Philadelphia area events, but wins his fair share in New Jersey as well. His past titles include the 2014 Philadelphia Mid-Am, the 2016 Delaware Open (as an amateur) and the 2017 New Jersey Mid-Am.
Stamberger, who played both rounds with Barron, said that the biggest difference in Barron's morning 73 and his afternoon bogey-free 67 was the driver.
"Peter played great in the afternoon," said Stamberger. "He started driving it dead straight, and much longer than he did in the morning."
Barron also won the tournament in 2015, posting 6-over 148. But the weather that day was nothing like today -- 48 degrees with 20mph wind gusts. That's the difference in an April and June tournament date in New Jersey.
View results for Eagle Oaks Invitational
ABOUT THE Eagle Oaks Invitational
Individual stroke play tournament with Mid-Am
and Senior (55+) divisions. Mid-Amateurs play
holes while the Seniors play 18. Eagle Oaks
Country Club, a Jack Nicklaus and Johnny
design located near the shore in the small
Farmingdale in Monmouth County, New
Metropolitan Golf Association (MGA) Player
may contact the Tournament Committee to
request an invitation.
View Complete Tournament Information