When Somerset Hills Country Club welcomes the Greg Norman Collection Match Play Championship presented by Morell Studios, Golf Max and supported by the PGA Tour, 64 PGA Professionals will contest for a chance to have their name etched into the Jack Mitchell Trophy.
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Somerset Hills will become the fifth site to host the Match Play Championship multiple times since 1987 (2012, 2018). Located in Bernardsville, Somerset Hills has hosted several championships for the Section, including the Head Professional Championship in 2002 and 2007, Pro President Championship in 1999, Senior Open in 1996 and Pro Lady Championship in 1989.
“It is such a unique piece of property,” Ryan Tuxhorn, Golf Course Superintendent at Somerset Hills said. “I want everyone to enjoy their round and feel like it was difficult, but it was fair.”
An A.W. Tillinghast course, the front nine at Somerset Hills still has traces of history from a century ago. Part of the front nine is laid out over a former race track.
“It was really a social and equestrian type place,” Joseph said. “The golf course was in a different location, but it was in 1917 when the first golf shots were hit here.”
With the winter extending a few weeks past schedule, several courses in the Section have been playing catch up. Somerset Hills reopened for the season on April 12, and although the apple orchards are late to bloom, Joseph says the course will be ready to test Section Professionals during the week of the event.
Joseph will be competing in the major event for the first time since joining the Section in 2016.
“The membership’s very supportive of me playing,” Joseph said.
The top 32 PGA Professionals from the OMEGA Player of the Year standings were exempt from qualifying into the Match Play Championship.
The last two years, however, have been won by a qualifier. David Reasoner of The Ridgewood Country Club won as the No. 54 seed at Morris County Golf Club last year, while Dan Kinn of Acushnet Company won as the No. 34 seed at Arcola Country Club in 2016.
“It was a bit of a surreal moment,” Reasoner said after winning the Match Play Championship.
Reasoner will attempt to become the first PGA Professional to win back-to-back Match Play Championships since Frank Esposito did in 2006 and 2007.
“Almost every single hole differs from other holes on the course,” Tuxhorn said. “There’s no general theme. You really have to think about every shot.”