Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2009 Crump Cup at Pine Valley

2009 Crump Cup at Pine Valley

It's mid-September, and for the only weekend of the year, Pine Valley, the greatest golf course in the world, is open to the public.

As one of the most prestigious amateur golf trophies, the Crump Cup has a history that goes back some 85 years, and named after the former Atlantic City Country Club member who designed and built Pine Valley.

This amateur invitational was matched only by the Sonny Frazer Cup by the names of those who played for it and earned it, but when Bally bought the Atlantic City Country Club the Sonny Fraser Cup competition was discontinued.

While George Crump envisioned Pine Valley as a golf club that could be enjoyed by everyone, especially families, Crump died before the course was complete, and an Irish architect was brought in to complete the last few holes. The private golf club that subsequently grew at Pine Valley was somewhat divorced from Crump's vision of a family golf club, and excluded women, children and blacks, and probably Jews too.

Women still aren't allowed to become members, and only a few blacks have been members, and the public is not permitted in the clubhouse, and only on the grounds to walk the course during the Crump Cup competition.

The last time they had a major championship that was open to the public was a Walker Cup, decades ago, and that has not happened again, nor will it, most likely, ever.

But Buddy Marucci, of Villanova, Pa., the Captain of this year's victorious US Walker Cup team, was the runner up in the Senior Division, losing 3 & 2 to Pat Tallent of Vienna, Virginia.

Skip Berkmeyer of Saint Louis won the 85th annual Crump Memorial Tournament at Pine Valley, defeating defending champion Micahel Muehr 2 up in the semifinal match and defeating Gene Elliott of West Des Moines, Iowa, 1 up. Elliot had defeated Michael McCoy, also from West Des Moines, in the semifinal in 19 holes.

According to reports from the scene, Berkmeyer won both matches with a birdie on the final hole.

Like the Crump Cup tournament at Pine Valley, the Sonny Fraser tournament at Atlantic City Country Club was a very special amateur invitational, with many of the participants in one tournament also playing in the other, as they were usually a week apart.

Sonny Fraser was the son of James "Jolly Jim" Fraser, the golf professional at the Seaview Country Club, who when his father died, was taken under the wing of Seaview owner Clarence Geist.

A natural at golf, and growing up on the course, Sonny Fraser was the founder of the Atlantic City Race Course and was a powerful politician, the head of the State Assembly and was going to run for governor when he was stricken by disease. Even after he was diagnosed, Fraser started the tournament, inviting all the best amateur golfers he knew, and won the inagural Cup that bears his name.

Dr. Cary Middlecoff won the following year, while Julus Boros, Eddie Furgal and other famous golfers played and won the tournament over the years.

The Sonny Fraser Memorial Cup was a popular and important amateur tournament that should be revived.

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