This week, 158 PGA Professionals will compete in the largest field of the year in pursuit of the John J. Clancy Trophy.
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This event was introduced in 1928 and has produced champions such as Craig Wood, Vic Ghezzi and Peter Oosterhuis. Babe Lichardus, Emery Thomas and Frank Esposito share the record for the most titles with five each.
This year’s host, Crestmont Country Club, marks the fifth time the Donald Ross golf course has held this event.
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PGA Head Professional Bob Downey of Crestmont, who has worked at the facility since 1989, says the conditions of the course get better each year.
“The golf course is challenging from different tee boxes,” Downey said. “It changes from the spring to the fall to the summer. It really plays to its original design.”
When Bill King won the Section Championship in 1993, the last year Crestmont hosted this event, Downey said he was among the best ball-strikers in the Section. The key to winning at Crestmont, Downey added, is someone who will be able to control their distance around the flag.
Bill King in 1993, the year it was last held at Crestmont.
“Crestmont is not that long, but you really have to be on the right positions on the greens,” Downey said. “If you come to Crestmont and you don’t put the ball below the hole, you’re going to have trouble.”
Alex Beach of Baltusrol Golf Club, the two-time defending champion, was a runner-up at the Lincoln Charity Clambake in June and comes into the week ranked No. 4 in the Omega Player of the Year standings.
In 2017, Beach qualified for the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club, marking his first appearance at a major championship. The 29-year-old Assistant PGA Professional at Baltusrol became the first Section Professional to qualify for the PGA Championship since Brett Jones in 2015.
The New Jersey PGA Championship serves as a qualifier for the PGA Professional Championship, which features a field of 312 PGA Professionals from around the country.
The top 20 finishers from the national event automatically book their spot into the PGA Championship.