RINGOES, NJ- One of the New Jersey State Golf Association’s most historic championships is scheduled for July 25-27, as The Ridge in Back Brook hosts the 102nd New Jersey Open Championship presented by Donnelly Industries.
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The 54-hole major stroke play championship will be played Monday through Wednesday at the 7,143-yard par-71 venue. The starting field consists of 57 amateur players and 53 professional competitors, who are either exempt or qualified at one of five statewide sectional qualifying sites. After the completion of 36 holes, the field is reduced to the top 40 scorers plus ties for the final round.
In 2021, Tyler Hall lifted the CW Badenhausen Trophy for the third time in his career. The three-time champion claimed victory at Spring Brook Country Club, redemption for his runner-up finish at the New Jersey Amateur Championship at Spring Brook in 2004.
“What a great place,” Hall said of The Ridge in Back Brook. “It’s one of those special places in New Jersey and the Northeast.”
Hall is seeking his fourth title, a feat only three other individuals in Babe Lichardus, David Glenz and Ed Whitman have accomplished.
“Growing up in the state of New Jersey, the State Open was the crown jewel, the one we were all looking for,” Hall said. “I’m so proud to be on this (trophy). I would love the chance to try and knock down one of my mentors, my idols, Dave Glenz. A guy like Ed Whitman, I looked up to my entire golfing career. Babe Luchardus, he gave me my first chipping lesson when I was little and told me how to hold the chipper with my right fingers.
Hall, a teaching professional at Upper Montclair Country Club is part of NJSGA’s ‘Featured’ group, which will highlight their 1st and 10th holes in their first round on Facebook Live. Follow @NJSGA1900 on Facebook to follow. The three-time champion with 2020 Open champion Mark Costanza and Grant Sturgeon, an NJPGA Clambake champion and a former Met Open champion will start at 8:44 a.m. from No. 1.
“I don’t feel the pressure,” Hall said. “I’m happy to be here and to know that my name will go down in history on this trophy. If I’m lucky enough to retire for a week and beat some of the young guys, then hey, that’s one thing. pretty cool to hope for.
With Hall and Costanza, former New Jersey Open champions to Marc Issler (2018), Frank Esposito (1999, 2013), four-time champion and NJSGA Hall of Famer Ed Whitman (1995, ’94, 2004 ), Brian Gaffney (2010), Gregory Farrow (2003) and Steve Sieg (1989) join the estate.
Other notable competitors on the course include 2022 New Jersey Amateur Champion Will Celiberti. En route to lifting the Edwin M. Wild Trophy, Celiberti tied the Rockaway River Country Club course record, compiling a whopping eight birdies on the path to a flawless 8-under par 64. The Ridgewood resident survived a three-hole playoff. against Will Huang of the Springdale Golf Club.
For the first time ever, a pair of women Ami Gianchandani and Rylee Plitz will compete at the New Jersey Open.
“In over 100 years, there has never been a woman participating in the championship proper,” said NJSGA executive director Kevin Purcell. “It will be a great opportunity for us to have the golfer on the big stage at our Open and we are looking forward to it.”
Gianchandani and Plitz earned their place in the Open through byes. Plitz, head golf professional at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood, received the bye after winning the 2021 New Jersey PGA Section Women’s Professional Championship. Gianchandani, an incoming senior at Yale University, won the 2021 New Jersey Women’s Amateur Championship to earn her spot at the Open. Gianchandani is no stranger to The Ridge. In April, the Watchung native finished third in the Ivy League Championship, hosted by The Ridge.
“It says a lot about how far women’s soccer has come, especially in New Jersey,” Gianchandani said. “Growing up I had maybe two or three role models in the state who were really good golfers who would go on to play in college and become pros, but now I look at my peers and there are eight or nine of us who are in college. Now in high school and in junior tournaments, there are so many more girls and they are so much better than a lot of us back then. It shows how far women’s golf in New Jersey has come and how far it needs to go. This will be the first time you have a woman in the event, but certainly not the last.
The Ridge at Back Brook’s new chief golf professional, Andrew Gordon, will be looking to hoist the CW Badenhausen Champions Trophy on his home turf.
Qualifying medalists include amateur Davis Weil of Ridgewood Country Club (at Roxiticus Golf Club), amateur William Huang of Springdale Golf Club (at Knoll Country Club – West), amateur Arav Patel of Forsgate Country Club (at Laurel Creek Country Club), Keith Prokop, Assistant Golf Professional at White Beeches Golf & Country Club (at White Beeches), and Jaimie Pierson, Head Golf Professional at Baltusrol (at Knob Hill Golf Club).
The Ridge at Back Brook offers a true championship-caliber golf course that is consistently maintained in top condition as well as a world-class practice facility. The state-of-the-art facility is a hidden gem, located in Ringoes, and will provide the state’s top players with a true test of golf.
“A golfer playing at The Ridge will be tested and required to use every club in their bag and the golfer who controls their emotions for all three days and knows when to attack the flags will be the winner,” Joel Moore, owner of The Ridge claimed. “There are no tricks, it’s all in front of you, there are no blind shots. It really is a wonderful championship venue.
Moore built the famous course in 2002 with the sole purpose of building a championship-level venue. Moore hired Tom Fazio to design the course on the 300+ acre property, which features red rock outcrops, streams, ponds and elevation changes throughout the course.
“The terrain is so unique to The Ridge. There are 18 totally different holes of golf here,” Moore said. “The focus is not only on the design of the holes, but also on our greens. Anyone who knows The Ridge knows that our greens are as good or better than anyone else’s.
According to Moore, when Mother Nature cooperates, the greens are true, firm and fast, but fair. From July 25-27, professional and amateur golfers on the course will need to be precise where they hit their ball on the greens. To do this, competitors must find fairways and avoid the depths of the rough.
“The fairways are typical Fazio fairways, wide and fair, but you have to hit them because if you play all day with our fast and undulating greens, many of which are protected by bunkers, you are not going to have a your best days,” Moore added.
Since 2002, the landscape of The Ridge has changed from time to time. In 2021, Hurricane Ida passed through, destroying the 8th hole green and bunkers as well as the 11th hole pedestrian bridge. After the wreckage, Moore did her due diligence, immediately bringing in her designer to revitalize the property. At No. 8 the green has been extended and a pair of bunkers have been remodeled and relocated. Additionally, a higher rock wall to prevent further flood damage was built to protect the green.
Despite the misfortune that Hurricane Ida brought to The Ridge, the course came out stronger. “Since we had to fix it, the question was, by how much? We just thought we’d make it a better golf hole after playing it for the past 18 years. I can’t wait for everyone to play it.
“In addition, several years ago we added an 18-hole putting course on a 35,000 square foot green, where many Open participants will practice their putting.”
“There are a variety of holes scattered across the 18 holes that will test your skills, but many golfers say that if you get through hole 3 in good shape you are on your way to a good round, ” explained Moore. “After that you have to deal with some par-3s, which are protected by ponds or streams, some strong par-4s in holes 3, 4 and 9 at the front, and then the holes 13 and 16 rear nine. .
In 2004, New Jersey Golf Magazine named The Ridge the second best private course in New Jersey. In 2013 and 2016, Golf Styles Magazine named The Ridge New Jersey’s Favorite Private Course and New Jersey’s Best Private Course, respectively. In 2010, the Golf World Readers’ Choice Awards voted The Ridge the 8th Best Private Course in America.
The Ridge is no stranger to major championships, having hosted the Philadelphia Open, NJPGA Professional Championship, AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic, and US Open Qualifiers in the past. Most recently, The Ridge hosted the 2022 Ivy League Women’s Golf Championship.
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