The 111thNew Jersey State Golf Association Amateur Championship returns to the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield for the first time in 14 years when it hosts a field of 103 golfers beginning today.

The field features six former champions, two sets of fathers and sons, two sets of brothers, the 2011 amateur Player of the Year, and the current New Jersey scholastic champion. It will be the eighth State Amateur held at Baltusrol, one more than the seven U.S. Opens contested there.

VIEW photos today from Baltusrol

Last year’s champion, David Sanders (Mount Laurel resident) of Laurel Creek, is not in the field, having turned professional.

Pairings for 111th NJSGA Amateur:

The six former champions are recent State Mid-Amateur winner Brian Komline (Bridgewater) of Black Oak (2010), Michael Deo (Berkeley Heights) of Black Oak (2009), Tom Gramigna (Haddonfield) of Tavistock (2008), Allan Small (Florham Park) of Fairmount (2004), Lee Richardson (Wayne) of Darlington (1999) and Michael Hyland (Marlton) of Little Mill (1998), who won at Baltusrol, the last time the event was played there.

Hyland will be joined by his father, Tom Hyland of Little Mill. One other father-son duo is Neal and Keith Schuman (Upper Saddle River) of Alpine. The field also includes two sets of brothers, Cory and Pat Wilson (Andover) of Panther Valley, and Ethan and Jerry Wall (Brielle) of Manasquan River. The 2011 Amateur Player of the Year Mike Stamberger (Brielle) of Spring Lake, 2012 scholastic champion Peter Kim (Metuchen) of Royce Brook, Baltusrol club champion Nick Desai (West Orange) and NJSGA Pre-Senior champion Cyrus Whitney of Hackensack are also entered.

The other stars of the show are the dual Tillinghast-designed courses. Each course will be played upon twice in the three-day, 72-hole event, with a 36-hole final for the golfers who survive the 36-hole cut. The Upper Course is a par-72, 7,002-yard venue while the Lower Course is, a par-72, 7,015-yard layout.On Tuesday, June 3, the Upper Course will be utilized. On Wednesday, June 4, the Lower Course will be played. Both courses are in play for the 36-hole final on Thursday, June 4.

State Amateurs have been conducted at Baltusrol in 1903, 1907, 1913, 1925, 1941, 1979 and 1998.

Mike Hyland of South Jersey’s Little Mill was 19 and had never seen – and barely heard of Baltusrol – when the sophomore at UNC-Charlotte teed it up the first day en route to his two-shot victory in 1998. On the final day, he came in with a five-shot lead and proceeded to ace the par-3 seventh hole of Baltusrol’s Upper Course that put him up seven strokes. He was so enthused, he then bogeyed his next four holes but managed to hang on for his two-stroke triumph.

“I’m extremely excited. I can’t wait to get to Baltusrol because I have a ton of memories there,” said Hyland, who was a semifinalist in the recent State Mid-Amateur at Galloway National. “I was so lucky to get to Baltusrol, because I was the last qualifier with an 83 on a terribly windy day at Stone Harbor.

“I’m a very long hitter and Baltusrol is a huge golf course. You’ve got to have a great short game there. It’s hard to hit the greens because many times you’re hitting a longer iron into them. I also have to practice my putting because those greens will be fast.”

Hyland, a two-time Philadelphia Amateur champion who has played in one PGA Tour event, two U.S. Amateurs and three U.S. Mid-Amateurs, had a third-place performance in May at the Kelly Cup in Burbank, Calif.

Komline’s NJSGA Mid-Amateur championship on May 3 enabled him to become the first player to win all four of the state majors – the State Open, State Amateur, State Mid-Amateur and State Public Links. He was only the fifth amateur to win state Open and Amateur titles. His State Amateur championship came two years ago at the Montclair Golf Club in a three-hole playoff over Pat Wilson of Panther Valley.

“I didn’t play the last time it was at Baltusrol in ’98. I was still pretty new to golf,’ said Komline, 38. “But I do know that on the Upper Course, the first six holes are tough to get through in par. They can easily ruin your golf card. And you want to stay away from big numbers on the Lower Course. You can easily find trouble there. The green complexes at Baltusrol can be severe. You want to place your ball in the right spot.

“The two golf courses there are both in the Top 50 in the country. One thing you have to remember is that the State Amateur is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You have to keep the ball in play and build momentum and you can build momentum by just making pars.

“There is a mystique about Baltusrol. It’s such a staple of the golf scene for the whole country. From the time you drive up to the clubhouse to the practice facilities. It’s just such a special, special place. We’re lucky to have it for our State Amateur,” Komline added.

“I want to take advantage of it while I’m out there.”

Allan Small, the reigning State Senior Amateur and 2004 State Amateur champion, stated: “I played the course recently and it was soft and long and that would favor the younger, stronger long hitters. But if it firms up and becomes fast and hard, then another set of golfers, older guys like myself, Jay Blumenfeld (Mountain Ridge) and Ron Vannelli (Metuchen) have a chance.

“The golf course is in spectacular condition. There are all new tees on the Upper Course. When I worked there in 1970, it used to be fun. Now, it’s a beast like the other one (Lower Course).“I think it’s great that we’ll be playing both courses.

"For guys who don’t know Baltusrol, it’s more challenging, because now you have to get to know two courses. It will be a long, hard day when they play the final over both courses. Conditioning will be a factor. If a golfer is young, strong and can control the golf ball, he would stand an excellent chance to win out there.”

Small, 60, is off to a fine start in 2012. He was third in the Met Senior Amateur, reached the quarterfinals of the State Mid-Amateur and was 14thin the NJSGA/NJPGA Senior Open.

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