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HEISER: Bon Air Country Club promises to offer daunting challenge for York County Amateur

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
Amy Kennedy, right, shakes hands with Tori Ross after last year's York County Amateur at Out Door Country Club. Kennedy beat Ross in a playoff for the women's crown. Kennedy is set to defend her title in this year's county amateur, set for Saturday and Sunday at Bon Air Country Club.
  • Bon Air Country Club will play host to the York County Amateur this weekend.
  • The 36-hole stroke-play event is set for Saturday and Sunday.
  • The par-71 Bon Air layout plays just more than 6,700 yards from the tips.

Bombers beware.

Bon Air Country Club will not be easily overpowered this weekend when the area's top golfers descend on the course nestled in the hills near Susquehannock High School.

The man and the woman who emerge as the York County Amateur champions will likely find that placement, not power, will be a key to victory.

The ability to read the small, tricky greens and wield a hot flat stick will also likely prove pivotal.  

Finally, the southern York County course will reward intelligent course management, because poor decisions will be punished severely, especially on the dangerous, hilly and tight back nine. 

From the tips, the par-71 Bon Air layout measures just more than 6,700 yards. That's not long by today's standards. Don't let that number fool you. Bon Air should prove to be a serious challenge for the county's top amateurs.

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Because of that, York County Amateur Golf Association executive director Dave Bennett believes any men's player who can finish the two-round, stroke-play event on Saturday and Sunday at under par will have a chance to win. Bennett should know, He's a Bon Air member and has been involved in the YCAGA for years.

"It’s in excellent condition," Bennett said of Bon Air. "The little heat spell we had recently presented some problems, but the new greens guy (at Bon Air) is doing a helluva job."

Bennett said the course's own version of "Amen Corner" — a treacherous span of three difficult par-4 holes from No. 10 through No. 12 — should especially make the golfers wary.

Kendel Abrams has the second-lowest handicap among the female entrants in the 2020 York County Amateur.

Women's field: The 2019 women's champion is set to defend her crown. Amy Kennedy won last year's title at Out Door Country Club in a playoff over Tori Ross, who is now an assistant pro at Hanover Country Club and can't play in the 2020 amateur event.

Joe Parrini, Amy Kennedy win playoffs to capture York County amateur golf championships

Kennedy is undoubtedly the strong favorite to add another piece of hardware to her bulging trophy case. She's owns the lowest handicap (2.3) in the nine-woman championship flight. Seven of the other eight women in the championship flight, however, also own single-digit handicaps, led by former Susquehannock High standout Kendel Abrams (4.0), Rebecca Ream (4.7), Jocelyn Abel (4.9) and Louise Gebhart (5.0).

This the second consecutive year that the YCAGA will feature a women's champion for its most prestigious event.

Bennett said he was a "little disappointed" in the small women's field, despite getting a strong "push" from Kennedy and York County golf legend Connie Shorb, who is not competing in this year's event.

"I think maybe Bon Air scares some of 'em," Bennett said. 

Because of the small number of female players, there won't be a women's cut. All of the female players will compete on both Saturday and Sunday. Bennett said the women's tees for the event will likely play from 5,300 to 5,600 yards.

Bob Ruby will look to win his second York County Amateur men's title this weekend at Bon Air Country Club. Ruby was second in last year's county amateur, falling to Joe Parrini in a playoff.

Men's field: It looks like there will be a new men's county amateur champion.

The defending champion, former Central York High School standout Joe Parrini, who won last year's event at ODCC in a playoff over Bob Ruby, was not entered in the 2020 event as of Tuesday morning.

There are some other big names missing from the men's event, including six-time champion Bill Brenner, three-time champion Scott Knouse, three-time champion Matt Henry and former champion Cary Walton. Bennett said Brenner is dealing with some neck issues.

That doesn't mean, however, that the 63-player men's field will lack talent. Fifteen of the men's players boast plus handicaps, according to the YCAGA tee list, meaning they are better than scratch golfers. That group is led by a listed plus-6.6 handicap by Maureese Jones.

Axel Hartman is looking to win his second York County Amateur men's title. He won the championship in 2015.

Jones is just one of several strong young players in the field, including 2015 champion Axel Hartman, a former West York High standout, who has a plus-4.4 handicap.

That influx of young golfers is encouraging for Bennett.

"If you look at all of the past champions, they are getting up there in age," Bennett said. "Now we’re starting to see some younger players come back out."

Some other under-35 players to watch this weekend are former York Catholic star Andrew Forjan (plus-1.9), former York Suburban star Dan Whiteley (plus-2.0), former Littlestown star Devin Peart (plus-1.8), former York Catholic star Jonathan Giambalvo (plus-0.4), former Dover standout Logan Snyder (plus-1.3) and current Dover player Trevor Snyder (plus-0.5).

Ruby, with a plus-2.3 handicap, will look to earn his second county amateur title after winning in 2007 and nearly winning last year.

T.J. Ostrom is looking to earn his sixth York County Amateur men's championship.

T.J. Ostrom (plus-2.2) will look to tie Brenner by capturing his sixth county amateur.

Other recent county amateur champs in the men's field are 2018 champion Brett Berkheimer (plus-2.5) and 2017 champion Raymond Sheedy (2.7), 

There will be a men's cut after Saturday's action, with the top-32 players, and ties, advancing to Sunday's final round.

OTHER GOLF NOTES

State match play at CCY: Before the county amateur is held this weekend, another York County course is currently playing host to another big-time event.

The Country Club of York is holding the Pennsylvania Golf Association's R. Jay Sigel Amateur Match Play Championship. 

The 17th annual event started Monday with stroke-play qualifying followed by match-play action on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sixteen players made the match-play field.

Some York County players competed in the stroke-play qualifier but didn't make the match-play field. CCY's Brandon Knaub (a former York County Amateur champion) missed making the match-play cut by just one shot, shooting a 1-under-par 71. Royal Manchester's Forjan shot 72, Hanover Country Club's Karl Frisk shot 75, CCY's Parrini shot 76 and Out Door's Cole Wagner shot 80.

Rick Stimmel of Diamond Run Golf Club led all qualifiers with a 64, one shot ahead of Mark Goetz of Hannastown Golf Club. In all, a dozen players shot in the 60s during qualifying.

Brooks Robinson Classic: Some former Baltimore Orioles are lending their time and golf skills to a good cause.

The York Revolution announced Tuesday that former Orioles Al Bumbry, Ross Grimsley, Dave Johnson, Steve Johnson and Joe Orsulak will participate in the 2020 Brooks Robinson Golf Classic at Royal Manchester Golf Links on Monday, July 27.

Sponsored by Shipley Energy and named for Hall of Fame third baseman and York Revolution co-owner Brooks Robinson, the event is the Revolution’s annual fundraiser for the York City Little League and the York County YMCA.

Foursomes, slots for individual golfers and sponsorships are available by contacting Tylor Toll at ttoll@yorkrevolution.com or (717) 801-4492.

The former Orioles will each assist in the scramble-format tournament by playing holes with each foursome on the course, giving all participants the opportunity to meet the former pros.

Jackson Township man has ace: Jackson Township's Jeff Hertz had a hole-in-one recently at Quail Valley Golf Course near Littlestown in Adams County.

Hertz used a 5-hybrid to ace the 150-yard 17th hole. It was witnessed by Andy Folmer and Ken Weirman.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.