“It’s a very playable but challenging course,” PGA Head Professional Brad Olson said. “I always love playing here because of the subtle breaks of the greens. The wind blows from the northeast and southwest, so you can use every club in your bag.”
Defending champion Grant Sturgeon is ready to retain his title after winning the Greg Norman Collection Match Play Championship at Somerset Hills Country Club in May. Sturgeon, the 39-year-old PGA Head Professional at Arcola Country Club, who now has two New Jersey Section majors, had the lowest round at Rumson last year, shooting a 2-under 69.
“I’ll have some good memories traveling back,” Sturgeon said. “I just love the opportunity to play and compete and have a membership that supports me.”
Rumson has hosted two New Jersey PGA majors, the 2008 Charity Classic and the Clambake as a secondary host in 2017.
The club, which was founded on Nov. 23, 1908, was originally a combination of Meadow Yacht Club, the Rumson Polo Club and the Seabright Golf Club. It was not until 1910 when its course was designed under Herbert Barker. Barker is the architect behind other New Jersey facilities such as Arcola Country Club and Raritan Valley Country Club.
Golf Course Superintendent Ben Stover noted that Rumson, a par-71 that can play up to 6700 yards, didn’t get back on schedule until the middle of April this season. At the Clambake last year, the most difficult hole at Rumson was the par-4 15th, which played to a half-stroke over par.
“During the [NJSGA] Four-Ball [In May], the fescue wasn’t up,” Stover said. “The fescue is up now and it will play a part in the rounds. The greens will be a little bit quicker and a little bit firmer for the Clambake.”
Rumson has made additions beyond its course, with the opening of the Riverhouse in 2014, a waterfront dining and pool area off the Shrewsbury River.
“A lot of the professionals and amateurs that came in [the Riverhouse last year] were saying, ‘I don’t want to play golf, I just want to hang out here,’” Olson said. “That’s kind of the consensus of our members and our guests, they just don’t want to leave.”
There will be 11 former champions in the field this week: Bill Britton (2011, 2013), Frank Esposito (2005-07), Brian Gaffney (2002, 2009), David Glenz (1988, 1996), Bill Hook (2016), Brett Jones (2015), Craig Lindsey (1999), Mark McCormick (2001, 2010), Brent Studer (2003, 2014) , Grant Sturgeon (2017), and Ed Whitman (1981, 2012).