for 100 years, The Crump Cup was played in Pine ValleyHowever, the tournament and the host club remain a mystery to many. The course, although maintaining its number one ranking for decades, is unknown to most people, even more so since the tradition of allowing spectators to play Sunday Crump Cup final matches was suspended.
But for those invited to play in the George A. Crump Memorial Tournament, it’s a cherished opportunity to go behind the curtain and experience a place many will never see, in a tournament with a set of traditions and playing conditions that make it different. Any other event on the amateur schedule. The tournament is September 22-25.
Here are 10 things you might not know about the best amateur golf tournament:
1. The Championship Dinner takes place after two rounds of strike play qualifying rounds to determine the five arcs to play the match (three 16-man amateur midfield brackets and two 8-man senior brackets). Since only those in the First Division stand a chance in the overall tournament, one of the past Crump Cup traditions has been to honor these 16 players by sitting together at a wide table facing the rest of the players. On this table, Pine Valley flags were placed all around, with each player given a flag corresponding to their match play seed (eg the third seed receives a flag from the third hole) and the next day’s opponents seated next to each other for dinner.
2. There is a short 10-hole course in Pine Valley that is sometimes used for consolation competitions for those not playing a match. Eight of the ten holes on the short track are exact copies of the approach shots on the main track.
3. There are probably fewer Eagles made in the Crump Cup than at any other major tournament. the reason? It is almost fashionable to have an eagle. There are only two 5 values on the course, both span over 600 yards, and both require an aerial approach. Two of 4 equivalents, the eighth and twelfth, are sometimes technically drivable, but the goals are so small that they never occur. So getting close to the holes is pretty much the only way to put two circles on the card.
4. There is none outside of Pine Valley, and all structures in the path are considered through the green. So if a competitor finds his ball behind, in or on top of one of these structures, he will not feel comfortable. Carlton Forrester found this out in the 2012 Crump Cup, when his second shot at four long distances found the club’s roof, which catapulted him to a world class level.
5. The training facility is located across from the property from the clubhouse, so the warm-up before the tour requires a scenic drive of about a mile, driving between slots 9 and 5/6, through the seventh fairway and through the timbers. Like many courses built in the early 1900s, Pine Valley did not have a dedicated training area, and so the club eventually built one (which, not surprisingly, is world-class) where the land is.
6. Unlike most other majors in the middle and senior amateur category, the Crump Cup moves its dates every year. A major consideration is avoiding conflict with the American amateurs, and so for the past 20 years we’ve seen the tournament start as early as September 9 and end as late as October 3.
7. The rules of golf don’t apply as they relate to bunker pitchers in the Crump Cup, because Pine Valley doesn’t have fortification pistons. So if a player finds themselves in one of the many sandy areas of the Pine Valley, which range from tiny crevices to sprawling wastelands, they are in real danger from which no escape is guaranteed. This is part of the reason why players who find the infamous “Devil’s A**hole” bunker on the 10th hole, during the qualifying playoffs, replay rather than risk taking a shot from a deep hole and seeing the ball roll backwards or worse.
8. While the method for securing an invite to the Crump Cup is more opaque (don’t ask for one, and there are no open apps or qualifiers; they’ll find you if they want to invite you), the way to get-invite is more straightforward. Absence from playing a match for two years in a row is usually a one-way ticket out of Pine Valley, as is the rare, unheard of inappropriate behavior. The Crump Cup is a men’s tournament, and the players do their best on and off the field.
9. Cans are required during the Crump Cup, and on the field where 15 feet above or below the hole can make a 2 or 3 shot difference, the Pine Valley canister is invaluable. The round in the Crump Cup is filled with frightening dangers, challenging reads and strategic decisions (many players put in a 5 par-3 and win the hole), and success is always a team effort.
10. The tournament’s name, George Arthur Crump, did not make it to opening day. Crump was the visionary behind Pine Valley and put everything he had into designing the course that would become the #1 course in the world. He lived on the property year-round, initially in a tent and then on a bungalow erected near the current site of the Fifth Hole. He consulted with some of the great golf course architects of the time, including Harry Colt, George C. Thomas, Walter Travis, and A. But Crump died tragically in 1918, a year before the full 18 holes were completed. The George A. Crump Memorial Tournament began in his honor in 1922, and 100 years later he was inducted into the New Jersey Golf Hall of Fame.