Essex Fells Country Club to Host 120th NJSGA Amateur Presented by Provident Bank
EFCC Hole No. 6
ESSEX FELLS, N.J. - The 120th New Jersey State Golf Association Amateur Championship Presented by Provident Bank will be played July 6-8 at Essex Fells Country Club. Last year’s champion at Arcola Country Club, Austin Devereux, on the heels of a banner senior season at Rider University, will look to defend his title.
A staple in northern New Jersey for nearly 125 years, Essex Fells has hosted several NJSGA events throughout its history. It first hosted the NJSGA Open Championship in 1946, and in 1953, it hosted its first NJSGA Amateur Championship. The 2021 edition will be the club’s first time hosting the Amateur since 1963.
“The course at Essex Fells is in better shape year after year,” said Brian Gaffney, the Head Golf Professional at EFCC. “I think it will play firm and fast, but I hope it offers opportunities for someone who is on their game to shoot some low scores.”
Essex Fells is a tight, classically-designed, par-70 that plays just over 6,500 yards. The course’s biggest defenses are the tricky green complexes and slight changes in elevation.
“At Essex Fells, we have a few holes that are challenging and plenty of holes that give opportunities to make some birdies,” Gaffney described. “The challenging holes [on the front nine] are the last two holes. No. 8 is a 458-yard par 4 over a rise, with a green that is downhill and doesn’t allow the ball to stop on the green. It’s a very challenging green, along with its length. The ninth hole’s elevation is almost 15 paces up from about 150 yards, so the landing angle into the ninth green is a little bit flatter, and oftentimes, when the greens are faster, the ball will roll through the back of the green, leaving an impossible chip. It’s a great short hole with a lot of challenges.”
The second nine at Essex Fells is toughened by a string of long, difficult par-4s at No. 14, No. 15, and No. 16. “No. 14 is an uphill, slight right-to-left with an incredible green complex that feeds the ball right-to-left and back-to-front,” Gaffney detailed. “The 15th hole is 455 yards, and there’s a fantastic oak tree on the left that blocks the left side of the fairway, but there is a creek down the right side. The 16th hole has a great tee shot because there is a wide landing area, but that wide landing area leaves a longer shot uphill into the green from probably 200-plus yards. You have to decide if you want to hit your tee shot far enough up the hill where the fairway pinches in and leave yourself a shorter shot, or play the safe tee shot and have a longer second shot.”
The field consists of 105 players, including 28 exempt players. The other 77 gained entry through one of five qualifying sites throughout New Jersey: North Jersey Country Club, Quail Brook Golf Course, Rock Spring Golf Club, Royce Brook Golf Club - West, and Stanton Ridge Golf and Country Club. The Edwin M. Wild Trophy is at stake.
Last year, Austin Devereux played the final 36 holes at 7-under par to post -6 and claim a two-stroke victory over Dean Greyserman. Mark Costanza finished third at -3, while Brendan Hansen and Ryan Lee tied for fourth place at -2. Hansen and Chris Dejohn, who shared the 54-hole lead at Arcola, are both in this year’s field.
The field features one other former amateur champion in two-time winner Michael Stamberger (2014, 13).
Liam Pasternak and Peter Kozubal are highlighted as two 2021 NJSGA Champions competing at Essex Fells. Pasternak, the youngest player in the field at 14 years old, earned a spot in the field via an exemption from the NJSGA tournament committee following his victory at the Boys Championship on June 24, becoming the event's first back-to-back champion since 1998. Pasternak secured his second title by seven strokes. Kozubal, the 33rd NJSGA/NJPGA Senior Open Champion, became the first amateur to win the NJSGA/NJPGA Senior Open Championship since 2010.
What will it take to come out on top at Essex Fells?
“The person that has a chance to win respects the holes. Even though they may be short, you have to be respectful of the pace of the green and which side of the green you put the ball on,” Gaffney said. “The person that wins will obviously hit their tee shots in the fairway, avoiding some of the thicker rough, but, the holes that seem so easy, be respectful of the layout of that green complex. If you do that and play smart, you’ve got a big advantage over the field.”
The championship will begin on Tuesday, July 6 with 18 holes of stroke play. The event will continue Wednesday with 18 more holes of stroke play. The top-40 and ties at that point will advance to Thursday, where 36 more holes will be played to determine a champion. Coverage of the 120th NJSGA Amateur Championship presented by Provident Bank will be available at NJSGA.org, where live scoring, news, and recaps will be featured throughout the week. Fans and players can also follow the organization on its social media outlets at Facebook.com/njsga1900, @NJSGA1900 on Twitter and @njsga1900 on Instagram.