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4 months ago
The Year of The Champ

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 BY JEFF FALK

 It’s a year. A whole year. A good year.

 But now Tyler Massar’s time is up. That doesn’t mean his time can’t be extended or that that year can’t be the foundation for the next. But there will never be another year quite like it.

 In some ways, Massar’s new year will begin on Saturday morning at Lebanon Valley golf course’s 6,136-yard, par-71 layout, when he opens the defense of his Lebanon County Amateur championship. Last year at Blue Mountain in Fredericksburg, Massar posted a blistering winning total of 136, or six-under par.

 A star-studded field of local competitors will challenge Massar for his title, when the 61st edition of the championship of local amateur golf unfolds in Myerstown. The 36-hole event will conclude with a final round on Sunday morning.

 “Following in my uncle Billy’s (Massar) footsteps, it’s been a great year,” said Massar. “I got a lot of ‘congrats’ when people found out about it. It was awesome. It’s one of only two tournaments I play as an individual. I like to play because it’s important. It brings out the best in me. I have to focus. I look forward to it every year.”

 “Last year’s Amateur was very similar to this year’s,” said tournament director Justin Arnt. “We’ve got a quality field with big names and past champions. I remember Tyler playing a fantastic round of golf, and Blue Mountain playing tough. There were good players at the top and it was very competitive.

 “I think the same will hold true this year,” added Arnt. “Both golf courses are short with small greens, and it’s all about the placement of your ball. At some holes you’ve got to play defensive.”

 In many ways, last year’s Lebanon County Amateur was Massar’s coming-out party. To become the best, he beat the finest players in the county by playing well.

 “I gained a lot of great experience,” said Massar of his two days in Fredericksburg. “The first day I didn’t play great, but I salvaged the round. It was very competitive golf. Sometimes you just have to trust your game. Thankfully, it went my way.

 “My personal expectations are pretty high,” continued Massar. “Blue Mountain really suited my game, but Lebanon Valley is a little different. It brings a lot of players into the championship talk. I’ve been playing well and my confidence is pretty high. You’ve just got to take it hole-by-hole and control what you can control. Hopefully, at the end I’ll have a chance.”

 Many of the players who pushed Massar are back again this year.

 Jimmy Gardner and Dan Brown had accounted for the four previous County Amateur titles before Massar broke through in 2018. Included among the other contenders are past champions Chris Gebhard, Tony Deraco, John DiGiacomo, Jeff Hoke and ‘Uncle Billy’.

 There is also a strong contingent of competitors who call Lebanon Valley home lurking.

 “I think numbers (of entries) have been down, but the quality of players is still there,” said Massar. “All the guys who play at Lebanon Valley have a big advantage. The greens are going to be quick and you’ve got to keep it in play. It’s going to be competitive.

 “Lebanon Valley is a short course,” Massar continued. “But you can’t spray your driver all over the place. I’m not going to hit driver everywhere. If I shoot 70-70, that’s two good rounds. The par-fives are very get-able and the par-threes are very difficult. And you can’t make too many mistakes.”

 “The players who play at Lebanon Valley have an advantage,” said Arnt. “There are a lot of players who will contend. Course knowledge is going to help.

 “I’ll be quite honest with you, I feel I’m close,” added Arnt. “I’m just off on a couple aspects of my game. I feel like it’s because of not having time to practice. But I still think I have a great shot. Something could click, and I’m there.”

 The Lebanon County Amateur Championship’s field of 30 is off of last year’s by a bit. But all things considered it’s a quality field.

 “I’m happy with 30 players,” said Arnt. “We’d like to have more and we continue to discuss ways to get more players involved. Of the 30, we have 15-20 good caliber guys who could be in contention. That’s why I enjoy it. We keep getting the good players.

 “You have to consider this day and age with golf,” continued Arnt. “People don’t want to pay the money. They don’t want to post a high score. The younger players aren’t there. I think it’s a mixture of things. Golf is an expensive sport.”

 “Last year, there were some younger guys playing,” said Massar. “Young guys are showing up, and they’re competitive. It’s (the number of entries) a bit disappointing. You want the field to be as big as possible.

 “I’m not sure why people don’t choose to play,” Massar continued. “I think people don’t like to play their own ball. I think the best thing is that it’s still competitive. But there are a lot of good competitive players who don’t play.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship

Past Champions
(Year, Player, Score and Course)
 2018 – Tyler Massar, 136, BM
2017 – Dan Brown, 136, FV
2016 – Jim Gardner, 139, PM
2015 – Jim Gardner, 141, LV
2014 – Dan Brown, 140, RO
2013 – Mike Schmidt, Jr., 136, FV
2012 – Tony Deraco, 136 BMV
2011 – Dan Brown, 142, PM
2010 – Ryan Schneiter, MV
2009 — Tim Leeper, 138, LV
2008 — Mike Schmidt Jr., 139, RO
2007 — Andy Gibbons, 140, FV
2006 — Jim Gardner, 104 BMV (27 holes)
2005 — Bill Massar Jr., 139 PM
2004 — Blaine Peffley, 144 BM
2003 — Chris Gebhard, 137 MV
2002 — Joe Faller, 139, FV
2001 — Jon DiGiacomo, 145, RO
2000 — Blaine Peffley, 143, FV
1999 — Roger Karsnitz, 146, MV
1998 — Chad Schulze, 139, FV
1997 — Chad Schulze, 144, MV
1996 — Chris Gebhard, 141, FV
1995 — Bill Massar Jr., 71, MV (18 holes)
1994 — John Gross, 144, MV
1993 — Mike Schmidt, 143, MV
1992 — Jeff Hoke, 148, MV
1991 — Joe Faller, 147, MV
1990 — Dennis Toomey, 145, MV
1989 — Joe Faller, 146, MV
1988 — Bob Page, 146, MV
1987 — Michael Brooks, 149, MV
1986 — John Gross, 147, MV
1985 — Pete Gebhard, 145, MV
1984 — Bob Page, 139, BM
1983 — Roger Karsnitz, 148, FV
1982 — Pete Gebhard, 72, MV (18 holes)
1981 — Stu Ingraham, 140, LV
1980 — Ben Witter, 141, MV
1979 — Tom Lape, 140, BM
1978 — Stu Ingraham, 144, FV
1977 — Russ Ditzler, 145, PM
1976 — Jim Sherman, 138, LV
1975 — Bob Page, 150, MV
1974 — Kye Golembewski, 141, BM
1973 — George Eisley, 147, FV
1972 — Roger Karsnitz, 144, PM
1971 — William Weik, 142, LV
1970 — Paul Ingraham, 157, MV
1969 — Bob Page, 144, BM
1968 — Ron Will, 147, FV
1967 — Bob Page, 139, PM
1966 — William Weik, 143, LV
1965 — Joseph Spesak, 141, BM
1964 — Tom Donnachie Jr., 149, FV
1963 — William Weik, 149, LCC
1962 — Joseph Spesak, 140, LV
1961 — Tom Donnachie Jr., 144, FV
1960 — Joseph Spesak, 145, LCC
1959 — George Moeschlin Jr., 144, LV
Key: RO — Royal Oaks, FV — Fairview, MV — Monroe Valley, BM — Blue Mountain, LV — Lebanon Valley, PM — Pine Meadows, LCC — Lebanon Country Club

 

 

 

 

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