intendent [Don McClure] and his staff do a
tremendous job at keeping things up to speed.
It’s consistently at a level that the best players
in the area can compete on, and we take pride
in that,” said Glen Van Istendal.
“You need to be able to hit all types of shots
here. Whether it’s a cut, draw or fade, you need
to be able to shape shots. Each nine here is
different, so you never get sick of playing, no
matter how many rounds you’ve got under
your belt,” said Tom Hyland, a veteran on the
GAP Senior circuit.
Because of the responsible parties above,
playing talent flocks to Marlton, N.J. One glance
at the grill room’s walls is all one needs to recognize the accolades Little Mill members have
racked up over the years. Golf Association of
Philadelphia stalwarts, such as Michael Hyland,
who was victorious in this year’s Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway
Golf at Llanerch Country Club, grew up and
“To paint a picture, I’ve won three GAP Ma-
jors and have only won Little Mill’s Club Cham-
pionship three times,” said Michael Hyland,
who also took home the 2000 and 2011 BMW
Philadelphia Amateur titles. “I’ve been playing
here all my life, and that just shows me how
good we have it.”
Victories in the 2011 and 2012 BMW GAP
Team Matches set the club up for years to
come. Jersey’s finest began to realize Little Mill
possessed the environment they were seeking.
Success in both individual and team championships followed suit, including the historic year
of 2016. (see sidebar)
f f f
JUNIOR GOLF PROGRAMS are where
it all starts for Little Mill’s future champions.
Inexpensive memberships for younger players
allow easy access for those looking to get into
the game at an early age.
“I learned to love the game here. I’ve been
a member here since I was 13 years old,” said
Tom Hyland. “Back then, there were so many
great players that I looked up to, and it was my
goal to one day be asked to play with them.
Once I got my chance, I was playing 36 holes,
both Saturdays and Sundays. I’ve played close
to every public and private golf course in the
Philadelphia region, and there is just something
unique about Little Mill that keeps me coming
back for more golf.”
“Little Mill raised me. I grew up being
dropped off at the course, every single day,
when I was 7 years old. It was the best place
for me to learn the game, and the Junior golf
is incredible,” said Michael Hyland, 39, of
Medford, N.J. “The club and all the talent we
have here taught me how to compete early on.
I honestly can point to that and say it was what
helped me become the player I am today.”
That competitive environment, coupled
with the daily showdowns one can face by just
stepping up to the first tee, is a major contrib-
uting factor to the club’s good standing. The
expansion of membership offerings has golfers
flocking to the course, whether that be daily
(full membership) or only five times a season
(limited house memberships).
“Four years ago, I joined the club because it
seemed like the perfect fit for me,” said James
Gillespie, 44, of Turnersville, N.J., a GAP Major
regular. “The guys are all laid back, and with 27
holes, the course separates itself from others.”
“We’ve seen an increase of players at the
club. George and his team have done a great
job of coming up with different packages for us
to offer,” said Van Istendal. “We want people to
play our championship golf course. That’s why
the course is here in the first place.”
Food and beverage still pull members in as
well, as the dining and grill rooms serve as a
focal gathering point pre and post-round.
It is, after all, a country club by name.
However, the club doesn’t share all the qualities
of one. There is no swimming pool. There are
no bocce courts. There’s no secret that the golf
course’s dance floors and fairway lanes are
what keep propelling Little Mill forward.
But after 50 years of proven success, that
model doesn’t seem to be changing anytime
“There have been times where we thought
we may have to sell. There have been tough
times, just like every other club,” said Van
Istendal. “But at the end of the day, Little Mill
prevailed through it all, and now, the arrow is
pointing nowhere but up. We can’t wait to see
where the next 50 years take us.” m
Filling up its trophy cabinet
The last decade has been kind to Little Mill’s trophy cabinet. On the flip side, Little Mill hasn’t been
kind to its playing competitors’ chances during that stretch.
The club’s team breakthrough came in 2011 and 2012, when Little Mill took back-to-back BM W GAP
Team Matches victories – the club’s first titles in its history.
“We’ve only been around for 50
years, and the amount of success
we’ve racked up really shows
that we’ve got something special
here,” said Tom Hyland, 62, of
Medford, N.J. “Those first two
wins got things going for us.”
The monumental year was 2016
for Little Mill’s talented tee sheet.
It all began in mid-May with the
club’s third overall victory in the BMW GAP Team Matches, one that will be remembered fondly forever. It was a stunning conclusion to the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s grandest event, as the
underdog Little Mill edged powerful defending champion Philadelphia Cricket Club by four points to
claim the coveted top spot. Little Mill posted 60. 5 points to Philadelphia Cricket Club’s 56. 5 points,
followed by Huntingdon Valley Country Club ( 51. 5) and Llanerch Country Club ( 47. 5).
In June, at Hidden Creek Golf Club, Little Mill’s Team Championship lineup (pictured above)
posted 24. 5 points to defeat Lu Lu Country Club ( 24), Commonwealth National Golf Club ( 17. 5)
and Tavistock Country Club ( 6) in the 97th edition of the event. It was the first Team Championship
title for the South Jersey bashers.
“That one was a special one for me,” said Michael Hyland. “Being named captain was something I
always wanted to be honored with. Standing up in front of the room, giving a speech in front of the
best players in GAP, was a moment I’ll never forget.”
The final act of the year to remember was a triumph in the Senior Club Team Challenge Matches Playoff, where Little Mill ( 48 points) defeated teams from Bellewood Country Club ( 38), Commonwealth
National Golf Club ( 34) and Yardley Country Club ( 24) to win the 16-team inter-club competition.
With that, the club competition sweep was complete.