Gotterup, Ku, Blumenfeld named 2019 Players of the Year
The New Jersey State Golf Association Player of the Year awards for men, women and senior men have been proudly sponsored by Donnelly Construction since the inception of the award. Male and female players are awarded points based upon their finish in local, regional, and national competitions.
The Men's Player of the Year Award, named for six-time Amateur Champion and NJSGA Hall of Famer Robert (Bob) Housen, was first awarded in 2002. Since then, four players have twice won the prestigious award: Chris Nallen (2002, ’03), Jay Blumenfeld (2006, ’09), Brian Komline (2007, ’08) and Mike Stamberger (2011, ’14).
The Women’s and Senior Men’s Player of the Year awards were instituted in 2014. Tara Fleming (2016, ’17) is a two-time winner of the Women’s Player of the Year Award. Blumenfeld has dominated the Senior Men’s Player of the Award, winning four times (2014, ’16, ’17, ’19).
The Robert Housen Men’s Player of the Year - Chris Gotterup, Rumson Country Club
For Chris Gotterup, 2019 was a yearlong statement that proved that hard work pays off.
A junior at Rutgers University, Gotterup grew up a member of Rumson Country Club and graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft. Rob Shutte, the head coach of the Rutgers golf team, knew Gotterup had tremendous talent – and it was only a matter of time until he blossomed. Fortunately for Gotterup, Shutte, and the Rutgers golf team, 2019 was the year.
Springtime for Gotterup was a precursor of good things. He was Rutgers’ low scorer in all six tournaments, and he concluded his college season with three straight top-five finishes. In the Big Ten Championship, he led the individual competition with four holes to play and finished tied for fourth, only two strokes back.
Gotterup’s strong collegiate play set the stage for a summer rarely matched. He finished fourth in the NJSGA Amateur at Neshanic Valley, just two weeks prior to winning the NJSGA Open Championship at Trump National. He fired a blistering final round four-under-par 67, including an eagle on the par-5, 15th hole, en route to a three shot victory. Eleven days later, Gotterup claimed a rare double when he won the Met Amateur Championship at Hudson National.
When Gotterup returned to school this fall, his excellent play continued.
In October, Gotterup, won Notre Dame University’s Fighting Irish Classic in South Bend, Indiana. He finished with a score of 14-under-par 199 (68-63-68) and won by eight strokes. It was the first individual championship of his Rutgers career and his final score of 199 tied for the second lowest in the tournament’s history, spurred by a high of 17 birdies over the three days.
“Being named Player of the Year is very meaningful for me. I am the face of Rutgers golf and now I’ll be the face of New Jersey amateur golf for the next year. It’s just an awesome feeling that I’ve gotten stuff done and won some big tournaments. It’s an honor to be named Player of the Year for 2019.”
“Where it all changed for me was the Big Ten Championship. I came off two good weeks of (college) golf. It was really the first time I was excited to play in an event I thought I had a chance to win. And I had the lead in the final round, but didn’t close it out. I had put in a lot of work, changed the look of my body and practiced a lot to get to that point,” he said.
Women's Player of the Year - Anina Ku, Neshanic Valley Golf Course
Like Gotterup, Ku built on her collegiate success before also garnering two major triumphs that catapulted her to the Women’s Player of the Year title.
Ku, of Neshanic Valley Golf Course, got off to a fast start during the spring season. After leading Harvard University to the league championship, she was named to the All-Ivy League first team as a freshman.
She continued her strong performance through the summer when she won the NJSGA Women’s Amateur Championship in match play, one day before her 19th birthday. Only two weeks later, Ku won her second consecutive NJSGA Women’s Public Links Championship in style, firing a course-record 65 at Heron Glen Golf Course in Ringoes.
“Winning the Women’s Amateur this summer and being named as the NJSGA Player of the Year means so much to me. The victory came after years of strong competition and constant reflection, trying to improve,” said Ku, who was inspired by older successful players such as Alice Chen and Cindy Ha.
“The NJSGA maintains such high quality competition in the state. As a collegiate player, I am so grateful that the NJSGA brings together the best for each event they host.”
This summer, Ku was also fourth in the Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association Stroke-Play Championship. In 2018, she was named a Rolex All-American.
“It was really an eventful summer. Winning the State Amateur was so awesome, I learned so much and had a great time. Then to finish off the summer with my second Public Links Championship made it even more memorable. It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a summer - and it allowed me to come back and be ready to play in school,” she said.
“It is amazing to have won this award, and it is something I will treasure forever,” concluded Ku.
Senior Player of the Year - Jay Blumenfeld, Mountain Ridge Country Club
Men’s Senior Player of the Year Jay Blumenfeld of Mountain Ridge Country Club won the award for an unprecedented fourth time. Previously, he won in 2014, 2016 and 2017, in addition to being named the overall NJSGA Men’s Player of the Year in 2006 and 2009.
Blumenfeld’s highlights for 2019 included a tie for first in the Boff Invitational, a runner-up finish in the Senior Division of the Schiavone Cup at Forsgate, a tie for third in the Senior Division of the Arcola Cup, and a tie for fifth in the NJSGA Senior Amateur Championship.
“I’m lucky to be in good health and to still able to still compete at a high level,” said Blumenfeld, 68, who has undergone operations in his knee, hip and shoulder. “Although I can’t practice as much as I would love to.
“I’m fortunate to get to know the young golfers, and to play with them on the NJSGA Compher Cup and Stoddard Trophy teams. A lot of them, I’ve played with their fathers and in some cases, their grandfathers. This summer, I played with Morten Gotterup and it was nice to see his son, Chris, win the State Open.
Blumenfeld’s tournament success dates back to 1976 when he was runner-up to Robert Kotz of Trenton in the NJSGA Amateur Championship. He twice won the NJSGA Senior Amateur, in 2016 and 2014, and was runner-up in the event in 2013 and 2010. He is also a two-time runner-up in the NJPGA/NJSGA Senior Open, in 2010 and 2008.
“It’s always an honor to win a Player of the Year Award. I’m proud that I can still play at a high level against great competitors in NJSGA championships year in and year out.”