My name is Christopher Roselle and I am the Tournament Director for the Golf Association of Philadelphia…I spent almost six years as an assistant golf professional…My primary responsibility is running all of our junior and non-championship events…The Golf Association of Philadelphia encompasses 142 Member Clubs spread across three states with close to 52,00 active members…I have made it a point to spotlight a different junior player every month as way in which to get to know these amazing athletes better…
Question #1…We’ll toss you a softball to start…Who are you and how did you get started in golf?
My name is Christopher Roselle and I am the Tournament Director for the Golf Association of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Villanova, Pa., I attended St. Joseph Preparatory School for Boys, Philadelphia, Pa. (1991-1995) and played collegiate golf at Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala. (1995-1999). My family has been a member at Overbrook Golf Club, Bryn Mawr, Pa. since the late 1950’s and my father taught me the game at a very young age (probably 4 or 5 years old if I remember correctly). Growing up at Overbrook was also the most ideal place for me to learn the game because the club has a storied history of producing some of the best amateur players in area. So while I learned the fundamentals from my father, I really learned how to play the game competitively from players like Chris Lange, Jimmy Kania, Ray and Andy Thompson, Frank McFadden and Oscar Mestre. If you look through the history books of the Golf Association of Philadelphia these gentleman have their names on all the major trophies we have.
Question #2…You are the Tournament Director of the Golf Association of Philadelphia, correct? Is this a full-time position, a volunteer position or a combination of the two?
The job of Tournament Director is a full-time position with the Golf Association of Philadelphia. I spent almost six years as an assistant golf professional, three years at Bear’s Best Golf Course in Suwanee, Ga. and three years at RiverCrest Golf Club and Preserve in Oaks, Pa. I left the professional side of the business in the fall of 2006. Fortunately for me, the Golf Association of Philadelphia created the position of Tournament Director as I was leaving RiverCrest and I was hired as Tournament Director in the spring of 2007. I have served as the Tournament Director ever since.
Question #3…Now that we have that settled, can you discuss your responsibilities as Tournament Director of the GAP?
My responsibilities as Tournament Director are very broad in scope. My primary responsibility is running all of our junior and non-championship events. I am responsible for establishing times of starting for all of our junior and non-championship events. I also am responsible for course set-ups for these events as well. I set hole locations, mark all hazards and pick yardages from where the competition will be played. I serve as the Official in Charge at a number of these events, where I am responsible for pace of play, scoring and rules officiating.
Since 2008 I have been in charge of our Winter Series, which encompasses four events in March and four events in late October/early November. And since 2010 I have been responsible for the Golf Association of Philadelphia Member Play Days. For both the Winter Series and the Member Play Days I am responsible for selecting host venues, creating times of starting and tournament administration during the events.
Question #4…We’ll go off on a tangent for a moment. How large is the GAP and what towns/cities/states does it encompass?
The Golf Association of Philadelphia encompasses 142 Member Clubs spread across three states with close to 52,00 active members. We have clubs as far west as Lancaster, Pa., as far north as Scranton, Pa., as far east as the Jersey Shore and as far south as Middletown, De. The Golf Association of Philadelphia happens to be the oldest regional/state golf association in the country. We just celebrated our 116th birthday on February 5th.
I grew up playing competitive junior golf in the early to mid 90’s and although junior golf today is on a much grander scale than when I competed, I thought it important for our juniors to understand all that is available to them. In fact, my first every blog post dealt with all the different tournament available to kids today and what might be the best way of setting your schedule for the summer. I have made it a point to spotlight a different junior player every month as way in which to get to know these amazing athletes better. I talk about the Rules of the Game and I hope the kids get a better understanding of how the Rules of Golf are there to help them during their round. I try and highlight their accomplishments both on and off the course because we have quite a few players who are looking to continue their golf careers on the collegiate circuit.
I have come to really enjoy talking about junior golf and I hope golfers both young and old enjoy my perspective. One of the things I did toward the end of last year which I absolutely loved was creating a Dream 18 course comprised of holes in the Golf Association region. It has sparked a lot of interest with our junior players about golf course architecture which I think is a neat thing. When I was playing junior golf I didn’t put much thought into who designed what course and what made for interesting/challenging designs. But today I think it is important for juniors to have a grasp for the history of the game and in the Philadelphia area we are blessed to have so many historical sites done by the games great designers.
Question #6…Back to your job…What is the most challenging aspect of the Tournament Director’s role, that others might not inherently notice?
The most challenging part of my job, which also happens to be the part I find most enjoyable, is the task of setting up the golf course prior to the event. The reason that it is so challenging is that I am responsible for setting up courses for a variety of different skill levels during the season. A good course setup for an accomplish junior player is quite different than a course setup for a senior net player. The great thing about this game is that the playing field is always changing and setting up a golf course so that a majority of the field finds it both challenging and enjoyable at the same time can be quite an undertaking.
Question #7…Continuing with that notion, what are the most memorable moments (one positive, one negative) of your tenure as Tournament Director? Please maintain the anonymity of those involved.
My most memorable moment on the negative side occurred a few years back during one of our junior events. I had to disqualify a player (one of the favorites to win the event no less) for a breach of Rule 6-3 (Time of Starting) because he was more than 5 minutes late for his starting time. I felt terrible about it personally but I had a responsibility to protect the entire field and allowing him to play would have been the wrong thing to do.
On a positive note, my most memorable moment probably came at the 2007 Golf Association of Philadelphia Open Championship. The Golf Association was fortunate to have Merion Golf Club host the event that year and it was the thrill of a lifetime to be in the scoring area behind the 18th green throughout the day as players finished their rounds. Merion GC is one of the most special places on earth and to be able to conduct one of our major championships there was a honor I will never forget. Although, if you ask me this same question later this year I might have a different answer because the Golf Association Open Championship heads to Pine Valley Golf Club on Monday, July 23rd.
Question #8…Getting personal now. Do you belong to a club? How’s your game? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
As I stated earlier, I grew up learning the game as a member of Overbrook Golf Club but I am now a member at Llanerch Country Club, a wonderful Alexander Findlay design (1919) in Havertown, Pa.. Llanerch CC’s claim to fame is that it held the first PGA Championship conducted at stroke-play (1958, Dow Finsterwald, 276).
Currently I carry a 2.8 index but I don’t get much time to play competitively anymore because of the Golf Association’s summer schedule. Because our tournament schedule is so immense, with over 65 events starting in late April and running through the middle of October, most of my golf is played in early April or mid to late October. I am also the proud father of two fantastic sons (Brady, 8 and Aidan, 6) and 1 beautiful daughter (Nora, almost 2) which limits my time on the course in the good way.
The strength of my game has always been the flat stick. My father taught me the game starting at the putting green first and then working my way back to the teeing ground. I was always the shortest hitter off the tee in high school and college but I was always able to compete because I could consistently find a way get the ball in the hole around the greens.
I would have to say that my weakness is accuracy with my driver. People often talk about what happened to the great golf games of Ian Baker-Finch and David Duval and I can honestly say I can relate to what both of those players went through with the longest club in the bag. I don’t like using the “y” word to describe my struggles with the driver but I went through a period of time when hitting the fairways was extremely difficult.
Question #9…What question have you never been asked that you would love to answer? Ask the question and answer it.
“What was it like to play collegiate golf against Bubba Watson?”
As I said earlier, I played collegiate golf at Spring Hill College, which is a small Jesuit college in Mobile, Alabama. The great thing about Spring Hill College is that it has a golf course right on campus and during my four years there we were always ranked in the Top 25 of the NAIA. I was fortunate enough to compete for the NAIA National Championship in 1998, where the finals were contested at Perry Maxwell’s classic Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
It just so happens that Bubba Watson, currently the 21st ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings, played collegiately at Faulkner State Community College, which was one of the schools that Spring Hill routinely played against in tournaments. I had the opportunity to be paired in the same group as him a few times and it was quite the experience. This was back in the late 90’s and he was a very accomplished junior player along the Gulf Coast. I had heard stories about how far he hit the ball back then and it was quite intimidating to be out-driven by over 100 YARDS on a few occasions. But watching him play was also very educational because Bubba never liked to hit the ball straight. He was such a nice guy to play with and even though I was right handed and he left handed I still was able to learn a tremendous amount about my own game just by watching him play. He had the ability to curve the golf ball both directions and when you combine that with his prodigious length, that has made him the most talented player I ever had the pleasure of playing against. One story that I still remember hearing involves him playing a 36 hole event one year where every full shot in Round 1 he played left to right and every full shot in Round 2 he played right to left. I think he shot 70 in the 1st round and 71 in the second.