Eight clubs earned their way into the playoffs for the 2016 Hoffman Cup by garnering the most points in their groups. In head-to-head matches with three other clubs, Mendham GTC, Black Oak GC, Baltusrol GC, Plainfield CC, Metedeconk National GC, Knickerbocker CC, Spring Brook CC and Montclair GC emerged to earn a spot the Hoffman Cup Semifinals, which will be played Saturday, May 7.
The four semifinal winners advance to the finals on Sunday, May 15, at Mountain Ridge Country Club in North Caldwell.
A weekend of exciting matches saw one stunning upset and a few close calls. The most surprising result was Mendham's 8-4 victory over defending champ Arcola CC, considered by many as the finest team to ever win the Cup. Just last year, Arcola dominated both its group play and the finals on the way to its title. Mendham played as though it didn't realize it was supposed to lose, led by a three-point performance by co-captain Steve Zychowski and partner Steve Bosacki at Arcola, and four points at home.
Two teams considered the cream of the field made it through to the playoffs, but in a decidedly different manner. Black Oak handled a challenge by neighbor Hamilton Farm GC with a 9-3 victory. Baltusrol had a decidedly different experience against formidable Fairmount CC, losing 8.5-3.5 against the first-ever Hoffman Cup champ, but holding on for a narrow 2.5 point Group win. This match play loss is Baltusrol's worst ever, and will no doubt be used as incentive for fine play next weekend.
Knickerbocker took on a head-to-head challenge by a strong Upper Montclair squad with a solid win to secure first place in its Group. Lower seeds Metedeconk and Spring Brook had less exciting paths to the playoffs, with solid wins in each of their matches. Montclair did what it has done more than any Hoffman Cup team -- win -- in a tight match against a spirited Rockaway River squad. 2016 finalist Plainfield captured its third straight trip to the playoffs with a solid 8-4 win over a strong Hackensack.
The Semifinals -- and some great matches -- are set for this Saturday, May 7:
Group A winner, Mendham GTC vs. Group H winner, Montclair GC
Group B winner, Black Oak GC vs. Group G winner, Spring Brook CC
Group C winner, Baltusrol GC vs. Group F winner, Knickerbocker CC
Group D winner, Plainfield CC vs. Group E winner, Metedeconk National GC