RINGOES, N.J. - One of the New Jersey State Golf Association’s most historic championships is set for July 25-27, as The Ridge at Back Brook plays host to the 102nd New Jersey Open Championship presented by Donnelly Industries.

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The 54-hole stroke play major championship is set for Monday through Wednesday on the par-71, 7,143-yard venue. The starting field consists of 57 amateur players and 53 professional competitors, who are either exempt or qualified at one of five state-wide sectional qualifying sites. After the completion of 36 holes, the field is cut to the low 40 scorers plus ties for the final round.

In 2021, Tyler Hall hoisted the C.W. Badenhausen Trophy for the third time in his career. The three-time champion earned the victory at Spring Brook Country Club, redemption for his runner-up finish at the New Jersey Amateur Championship at Spring Brook in 2004.

“What an awesome venue,” Hall said of The Ridge at Back Brook. “It’s one of those special places in New Jersey and the Northeast.”

Hall is seeking his fourth title, a feat only three other individuals in Babe Lichardus, David Glenz and Ed Whitman have accomplished.

“Growing up in the state of New Jersey, the State Open was the crown jewel, the one we all looked for,” Hall expressed. “I’m so very proud to be on that (trophy). I’d love a chance to try to run down one of my mentors, my idols, Dave Glenz. A guy like Ed Whitman I’ve looked up to my whole golfing career. Babe Luchardus, he gave me my first chipping lesson when I was a little kid and told me how to hold the ‘chipper’ with my right fingers.”

Hall, a teaching professional at Upper Montclair Country Club is a part of the NJSGA’s ‘Featured’ Group, which will highlight their 1st and 10th holes in their first round on Facebook Live. Follow @NJSGA1900 on Facebook to follow along. The three-time champion along with 2020 Open Champion Mark Costanza and Grant Sturgeon, an NJPGA Clambake Champion and a former Met Open Champion will tee off at 8:44 a.m. off No. 1.

“I don’t feel the pressure,” said Hall. “I’m happy to just be on there and know that my name will go down in history on that trophy. If I get a chance to pull out a week and beat some of the young guys, then hey, that’s a pretty cool thing to look forward to.”

Along with Hall and Costanza, former New Jersey Open Champions in Marc Issler (2018), Frank Esposito (1999, 2013), four-time champion and NJSGA Hall of Famer Ed Whitman (1995, ’94, 2004), Brian Gaffney (2010), Gregory Farrow (2003) and Steve Sieg (1989) join the field.

Other notable competitors in the field includes 2022 New Jersey Amateur Champion Will Celiberti. En route to hoisting the Edwin M. Wild trophy, Celiberti matched the Rockaway River Country Club course record, compiling a whopping eight birdies on the way to a blemish-free 8-under par 64. The Ridgewood resident survived a three-hole aggregate playoff against Will Huang of Springdale Golf Club.

For the first time ever, a pair of females in Ami Gianchandani and Rylee Plitz will be competing in the New Jersey Open.

“In over 100 years, there’s never been a female participant in the championship proper,” said NJSGA Executive Director Kevin Purcell. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to have the female golfer on the big stage of our Open and we’re looking forward to it.”

Gianchandani and Plitz earned their way into the Open by way of exemptions. Plitz, head golf professional at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood received the exemption after winning the 2021 New Jersey PGA Section Women’s Professional Championship. Gianchandani, an incoming senior at Yale University won the 2021 New Jersey Women’s Amateur Championship to earn her spot in the Open. Gianchandani is no stranger to The Ridge. In April, the Watchung native finished in third at the Ivy League Championship, which was hosted by The Ridge.

“It speaks a lot to how far the women’s game has come, especially in New Jersey,” said Gianchandani. “Growing up I had maybe two or three role models in the state who were really good female golfers who would go on to play in college and go on to be pros, but now I’m looking around at my peers and there’s eight or nine of us who are in college. Now in high school and the junior tournament fields there’s so many more girls and they are so much better than a lot of us were at the time. It speaks to how much women’s golf in New Jersey has come along and how much farther it has to go. This is going to be the first time that you’re going to have a female in the event, but certainly not the last.”

The Ridge at Back Brook’s newly appointed head golf professional, Andrew Gordon will look to hoist the C.W. Badenhausen Champions Trophy on his home turf.

Qualifying medalists include amateur Davis Weil of The Ridgewood Country Club (at Roxiticus Golf Club), amateur William Huang of Springdale Golf Club (at Knoll Country Club - West), amateur Arav Patel of Forsgate Country Club (at Laurel Creek Country Club), Keith Prokop, assistant golf professional at White Beeches Golf & Country Club (at White Beeches), and Jaimie Pierson, head golf professional at Baltusrol (at Knob Hill Golf Club).

The Ridge at Back Brook provides a true championship-caliber golf course that is consistently maintained in great condition along with a world class practice facility. The state-of-the-art facility is a hidden gem, located in Ringoes, and will offer the top players in the state a true test of golf.

“A golfer playing The Ridge will be tested and will have to use every club in their bag and the golfer who controls their emotions over the three days and knows when to attack the flags will be the winner,” Joel Moore, owner of the Ridge claimed. “There’s no tricks, everything is in front of you, there’s no blind shots. It’s really a wonderful championship venue.”

Moore built the renowned course in 2002 with the sole intention to construct a championship-level venue. Moore hired Tom Fazio to design the course on the 300-plus acre property, which includes red rock outcroppings, streams, ponds and elevation changes throughout the course.

“The land is so unique at The Ridge. There are 18 totally different golf holes here,” said Moore. “The focus is not only on the design of the holes, but also on our greens. Anyone who’s familiar with The Ridge knows that our greens are as good or better than anyone else’s.”

According to Moore, when Mother Nature cooperates, the greens are true, firm and fast, but they’re fair. From July 25-27, both professional and amateur golfers in the field will have to be precise where they hit their ball onto the greens. In order to do so, competitors must find fairways and avoid the depths of the rough.

“The fairways are typical Fazio fairways, wide and fair, but you have to hit them because if you’re playing out of the rough all day with our quick and undulating greens, many of which are protected by bunkers, you’re not going to have one of your better days," added Moore.

Since 2002, the landscape at The Ridge has changed from time to time. In 2021, Hurricane Ida rolled through, destroying the green and bunkers on the 8th hole as well as the walking bridge on the 11th hole. Following the wreckage, Moore did his due diligence, immediately bringing in his designer to revitalize the property. On No. 8, the green was enlarged and a pair of bunkers were reshaped and relocated. In addition, a taller boulder wall to avoid any further flooding damage was built to protect the green.

Despite the misfortune Hurricane Ida brought to The Ridge, the course came out stronger. “Since we had to fix it, the question was, to what degree? We just thought we’d make it a better golf hole after having played it for the last 18 years. I’m looking forward to everyone playing it.”

“In addition, several years ago we added an 18-hole putting course on a 35,000 square-foot green, which is where many of the Open participants will practice their putting.”

“There are a variety of holes that are scattered throughout the 18 holes that will test your ability, but a lot of golfers say that if you get through hole No. 3 in good shape, you’re on pace to have a good round,” explained Moore. “After that, you have to deal with a couple of the par-3s, which are protected by ponds or streams, some strong par-4s in holes 3, 4 and 9 on the front and then holes 13 and 16 on the back nine.

In 2004, New Jersey Golf Magazine named The Ridge the second-best private course in New Jersey. In 2013 and 2016, Golf Styles Magazine named the Ridge New Jersey’s Favorite Private Course and Best Private Course in New Jersey, respectively. In 2010, Golf World Readers’ Choice Awards voted The Ridge the 8th Best Private Course in America.

The Ridge is no stranger to big-time championships, having hosted the Philadelphia Open, the NJPGA Professional Championship, the AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic and U.S. Open qualifiers in the past. Most recently, The Ridge hosted the 2022 Ivy League Women’s Golf Championship.

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