July 1, 2022
Preparations for the first PGA Tour event held in Delaware are well underway at Wilmington Country Club, site of the 2022 BMW Championship August 16-21. Officials from BMW and the Western Golf Association joined club officials, Governor John Carney, and others in celebrating the tournament’s progress at a Media Day event June 27.
The WGA formerly hosted the Western Open in the Midwest for several decades. For many years it was considered the near equivalent of golf’s majors. BMW became the lead sponsor for the tournament in 2007, when its schedule switched to the last tournament for the FedEx playoffs before the finals held at East Lake in Atlanta, GA.
Ed “Porky” Oliver, a Wilmington native and former caddie at Wilmington CC, won the Western in 1941. His name is engraved on the J. K. Wadley Trophy, a massive silver cup. BMW Championship winners continue to earn it, along with a more modern trophy.
The WGA is perhaps best known for its Evans Scholarship program, which grants college scholarships to caddies at several major universities. It is the BMW Championship’s primary charitable recipient. WGA Vice-Chairman Steven Kolnitas told Media Day guests there were 1,070 Evans Scholars at 21 colleges and universities in 2021, with 315 new scholarships awarded this spring.
Frank Yocum, a former caddie at Wilmington CC from nearby Garnet Valley, PA, discussed his Evans experience as a Penn State freshman majoring in accounting. He highlighted the benefits of persistence, building relationships, and showing respect. Yocum is one of the first Evans Scholars to come from WCC.
Tickets for the event are selling fast, and the organizers also said 2,000 volunteers will help run the event. Those slots are filled, with several Cape Region golfers among them.
The former McDonald’s LPGA Championship at nearby DuPont Country Club drew huge crowds, and another one is expected for the BMW. Tournament officials estimate approximately 140,000 fans will cheer on their favorites in August.
Melissa Reigel, President of Board of Directors of WCC, told me how hot ticket sales are going. “Because of our location, and the incredible golf fans we have in the area, both in Delaware and the region, we are hoping for widespread participation in hospitality and ticket sales. Since hospitality and ticket sales were opened up, we’ve been ahead of schedule by at least 25 to 30%,” she said.
The Country Club’s South Course will be the venue, a stern test originally designed by Robert Trent Jones. It has hosted several USGA Championships, including the U.S. Amateur in 1971, both Junior Amateurs in 1978, and the 2003 Mid-Amateur.
The club hired golf architect Andrew Green to handle renovations for the tournament, which included recovering from a freak tornado in August 2020. The storm took out over 300 trees and damaged every bunker on the club’s North and South Courses. The new features blend in well with the prior design.
The South Course also hosted the DIAA State Golf Championships four times since 1974. Cape Henlopen’s Tyler Whitman won his second state championship there in 2003.
The Vikings finished in seventh place in the 2015 team competition at WCC. Matthew Zehner was a sophomore on that squad and built up a fine record at Cape through his senior year in 2017.
Zehner went to Penn State, obtained professional golf management and PGA credentials, and is now an assistant golf pro at WCC. Chatting with him was a nice local bonus on Media Day.
For more information about tickets, go to bmwchampionship.com.
Next week’s column will discuss what it’s like to play the South Course and what the pros will face.
Local club competition results
The Kings Creek CC Ladies 9-Hole group played an Odds Out Evens In game June 28.
Carolyn Horn won first place gross in the first flight. Chris Emery won first place net, with Sandy Neverett in second. Dot Filbert finished third.
Darci Whitehead won first place gross in the second flight. Yona Zucker won first place net, with Lesley Corydon taking second. Prabhat Karapurkar finished third.
Lisa Gercenstein won first place gross in the third flight, with Debbie D’Orazio taking first place net. Stephanie Roash finished second and Beth Cohen took third.
Terry Barrera won first place gross in the fourth flight. Patty Quercetti won first place net. Brenda Schilli took second and Noreen Buzerak finished third.
The Mulligan’s Pointe Ladies 18-Hole group played a best 2 balls of 4 game June 28. Peg Garrick, Retta Rose Frampton, Chris Allison, and Donna Dolce won first place. Maxine Ansbach, Karen Feuchtenberger, Jackie Stiles Chunata, and Susan Shockley finished second.
The Kings Creek CC Ladies 18-Hole group played a team game June 23, won by Jean Chlastawa, Cynthia Lowe, Melanie Pereira, and Joanne Yurik.
The Kings Creek CC Ladies 9-Hole group played a team 2, 1, 1, game June 21. Two best net scores are used on par 3s, with one best net score used on the par 4s and par 5s.
Betsi Fakler, Carey McDaniel, Beth Cohen, and Debbie D’Orazio won first place. Tara Coates, Terry Boston, and blind draws Darci Whitehead and Juanita Wilson took second. Chris Emery, Judy Rayner, Tish Brey, and Ruthann Santry finished third.