FRONT AND CENTER in the Valley Forge Invitational’s promotional poster was Emily Gimpel – a projected hometown hero and unofficial ambassador of the vent. The Whitemarsh Valley Country Club member generated plenty of buzz before she struck her first tee shot. The attention didn’t faze Gimpel.
“I’m just really excited that we had a Symetra Tour event in the Philadelphia area.
It’s a great place for golf,” Gimpel, 25, of Lafayette Hill, Pa., said. “The atmosphere was
awesome. I felt honored to be a part of it and to represent the Symetra Tour.”
Raven’s Claw Golf Club welcomed the Valley Forge Invitational May 24-26. Gimpel
rebounded from an opening 78 with a 1-under-par 70, but ultimately missed the cut by
six strokes. Louise Ridderstrom of Sweden won the event with rounds of 69, 65 and 63.
“I was pretty disappointed with how I played the first day. I put a lot of pressure on
myself just to play well in front of family,” Gimpel said. “I was pretty bummed out honest-
ly, but happy to finish with a 1 under on the second day. I felt much more relaxed. I was
disappointed overall but happy and thankful to be a part of such a great tournament.”
In advance of the Valley Forge Invitational – and the tournament season overall,
Gimpel began sessions with John Bierkan, Aronimink Golf Club’s teaching professional.
The two met in Florida in November 2017, with Gimpel driving nearly three hours for
“He worked a lot on my swing mechanics during the offseason, hoping to improve
some of my statistics that I thought needed improvement,” Gimpel said. “I wanted to
pick up some distance off the tee. My greens in regulation were lower than I would
have liked. John’ has helped me take my swing mechanics to the next level.”
“She’s one of the hardest-working students I’ve ever had honestly, and I’m not just
saying that. It’s incredible,” Bierkan, 40, of Wayne, Pa., said. “The day after our first
lesson, she texted me and said, ‘I worked hard at it. I practiced for nine hours.’”
THE HOMECOMING PICTURE WAS expansive for Gimpel. Raven’s Claw architect
Ed Shearon is a Whitemarsh Valley member. Head professional Jim Bromley once
helmed the Whitemarsh pro shop.
“Mr. Shearon is a member of Whitemarsh as well. He’s been a good friend of mine
since I was little,” Gimpel said. “Mr. Bromley was the head professional at Whitemarsh
when I was growing up. It’s really neat to see how many people I’ve known from golf in
the Philadelphia area coming together to help bring the Symetra Tour here.”
“What has struck me and everybody who has seen her grow up at Whitemarsh is
the dedication, discipline and love of the game of golf that she exhibits. She’s dedicated
to being the best player she can be,” Shearon, 63, of Lower Gwynedd, Pa., added.
Gimpel grew up within walking distance of Whitemarsh Valley. Her father, John, is an
avid golfer and Whitemarsh member. Golf seemed like a given.
“I used to want to tag along with my dad to the course. He got me into it,” Gimpel
said. “I fell in love with the game.”
Gimpel, a Mount Saint Joseph Academy alum, played golf collegiately at the College
of William & Mary for a year before transferring to the University of Maryland. A kinesiol-
ogy major, Gimpel graduated in 2014 and delved into the world of LPGA Q-School. She
officially turned professional in January 2015 and gained status on the Symetra Tour.
“Last year was a bit of a challenge after having good status [on the Symetra Tour]
my first two years out of college,” Gimpel said. “I had to play in a lot of state opens and
Monday qualifiers, which is still good because the constant challenge out there is to
play well. You have to always bring it.”
Gimpel reelevated her Symetra status for 2018 by advancing to Stage II of LPGA and
Symetra Qualifying School. Her travel itinerary, as a result, is packed; a stop at home for
the Valley Forge Invitational served as a welcome break.
“Having 22 events on the Symetra Tour plus [LPGA Tour] Qualifying School means a lot
of weeks on the road,” Gimpel said. “To be able to have an event where I can sleep in my
own bed, not worry about where to stay or how to get there, was really nice. It’s just really
special to have my family and friends come watch and see what I do on a regular basis.
I’m very blessed with a wonderful support system. I’m fortunate to be a part of it.” m
SYMETRA TOUR’S VALLEY FORGE INVITATIONAL
A MEANINGFUL HOMECOMING FOR GIMPEL
Symetra Tour member
Emily Gimpel, who grew
up at Whitemarsh Valley
Country Club, returned
to the area for the Valley
Forge Invitational at
BY TONY REGINA