Spring Brook Country Club Set to Host 101st NJSGA Open Championship
Hole No. 9 at Spring Brook CC
MORRISTOWN, N.J. - The 101st New Jersey State Golf Association Open Championship will be played July 19-21 at Spring Brook Country Club in Morristown. As part of the club’s yearlong celebration of its milestone 100th anniversary, it will be the sixth time that Spring Brook has hosted the NJSGA’s flagship competition.
Last year’s Open Champion at Knickerbocker Country Club, amateur Mark Costanza, and the 120th NJSGA Amateur Champion presented by Provident Bank, Michael Brown, headline a talented field of New Jersey pros and amateurs.
Spring Brook, founded by a group of Morristown businessmen in June of 1921, was developed on Spring Brook Farm, a 750-acre piece of land owned by Robert Dumont Foote. Originally designed by Walter Travis and more recently influenced by Hal Purdy and Ken Dye, the 6,600-yard par-70 sits just two miles south of the Morristown Green. It last hosted the NJSGA Open Championship in 2010.
Spring Brook’s front nine is relatively open, highlighted by a pair of reachable par-5s and capped with Armstrong Pond’s initial test, the par 3 9th hole. The pond remains in play at No. 10 and No. 11, also par 3s. This trio of holes around the pond is known at the club as “The Gauntlet,” and it proves to be a signature stretch in every player’s round. Most of the back nine at SBCC is played across Spring Brook Road and is narrower and more tree-lined than the opening nine.
“The par 3s, No. 9, 10, and 11, have proved to be a key stretch that if you can walk away with three pars, you’ll be very, very happy,” said Tony Santillo, the Head Professional at Spring Brook. “Your round at Spring Brook can be made or broken by the three par 3s in a row. They go in three different directions, and the wind can be in your face on all the holes, which is kind of the key.”
A relatively shorter course that puts a premium on driving accuracy and stellar iron play, the golf course’s sturdiest defense may be its greens. Nuanced with subtle breaks, golfers will have to hit close approach shots and ride a hot putter to shoot low scores.
“The big key is making putts. The greens are tricky. A lot of local knowledge; there are a lot of breaks that look one way and break the other,” said Santillo, who will compete in the Open Championship as well, “To shoot low scores, you’re going to have to put the ball close to the hole and make some putts.”
Last year’s Open Championship at Knickerbocker featured a five-way race to the finish, with Hamilton Farm Golf Club’s Mark Costanza outlasting Canoe Brook Country Club’s Tony Perla in a three-hole playoff. Costanza and Perla both played their final 36 holes at 11-under par to finish tied atop the leaderboard at -10. Knickerbocker’s Ethan Ng and Upper Montclair’s Tyler Hall tied for third at -9, while Knickerbocker’s Bill Hook finished alone in fifth at 8-under par. Costanza, Perla, Hall, and Hook are all in the field at Spring Brook. Brian Gaffney, the champion of the 2010 Open at Spring Brook, is also in the field.
Overall, the field is made up of 53 professionals and 51 amateur golfers. Several more former Open champions are in the 2021 field, which includes Marc Issler (2018), Tyler Hall (2015, 16), Frank Esposito, Jr. (2013, 1999), Ed Whitman (2004, 1991, 95, 96), Gregory Farrow (2003) and Steve Sieg (1989).
Michael Brown, champion of the 120th NJSGA Amateur presented by Provident Bank, finished tied for sixth in last year’s event at Knickerbocker. Brown currently holds simultaneous state amateur titles in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and will be looking to add another trophy to his shelf at Spring Brook. Peter Kozubal, who won the 2021 NJSGA/NJPGA Senior Open in June, is also in the field. Including Costanza and Gaffney, there are seven former NJSGA Open champions in the field.
Spring Brook has hosted numerous New Jersey State Golf Association events over the years, including the Open Championship in 1955, 1958, 1965, 1973, and 2010, the Amateur Championship in 1991 and 2004, and most recently, the Women’s Amateur Championship in 2014.
Coverage of the 101st NJSGA Open Championship 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.