ichael R. Brown, Jr. was
still a newcomer to the Golf
Association of Philadelphia
circuit in 2010 when he
earned his first William Hyndman, III Player of
the Year. He was fresh off reinstatement and
admittedly a bit naïve to his surroundings.
Winning wasn’t everything back then; it was
the only thing.
Today, at age 45, a more subdued and
tenured Brown understands golf is fickle. So
when the Lu Lu Country Club member survived a grueling 2018 season to find the POY
grail again, the placid Brown can do nothing
“I think at this age it’s a little more fulfilling,”
said Brown, who totaled 646.25 POY points.
“In 2010, I was new to amateur golf again. I
didn’t know many of the guys and didn’t know
how difficult it would be to win in Phila-
delphia. After being around all those great
players for the past 10 years, I now appreciate
how difficult it is to win in this area. That
made this victory more satisfying.”
Brown needed a Top- 5 finish in the final
points event of the year, the Middle Atlantic
Amateur Championship (which dates back to
1902), to eclipse Matt Mattare. Mattare, the
2017 Player of the Year from Saucon Valley
Country Club, held a 34.5-point advantage,
but wasn’t competing. Brown, cognizant of
the POY situation, finished the 72 holes in 3
over to tie for fourth. That included a third-round 3-under 69. He earned 50 points for
“I was nervous from the first shot to the last
shot. There wasn’t a time when that wasn’t on
my mind,” said Brown, of Maple Shade, N.J.
“To be that close and not win [the Player of
the Year] would have been a tough thing for
me to swallow. I’d have been devastated if it
went the other way.”
Brown lettered at Indiana University of
Pennsylvania for four years after graduating
from Cheltenham High School. He earned his
degree in marketing from IUP in 1995, moved
to Florida to get his golf game in shape and
turned professional in 1998. After living the
life of a mini-tour pro, which included a couple
years on PGA TOUR Canada, Brown found
himself $30,000 in debt and exited.
He regained his amateur status in 2007
and started his GAP career in 2008.
“In retrospect, I built a great foundation
for a future in amateur golf,” said Brown. “In
2005, I was devasted. In 2018, looking back,
it may have been the best thing for me.”
Brown hopped into the 2018 Player of the
Year race in PGA TOUR style.
In the 116th Joseph H. Patterson Cup at
Gulph Mills Golf Club – the Association’s stroke
play championship – he opened with a 72,
five shots behind the leaders. He started
Round 2 holding his head above water before
surging into the lead with a birdie-birdie-bird-ie-birdie-bogey-eagle stretch on holes 7-12.
Five more pars and a birdie on No. 18 (par 5,
460 yards) secured Brown his first Patterson
Cup and 250 POY points. He also tied for
second in the Silver Cross Award (aggregate
four-round score of BMW Amateur Champion-
ship (two rounds)/Patterson Cup (two rounds)
and with that finish earned 100 points.
“When I was younger it was hard for me to
understand I wasn’t going to win every time,”
said Brown. “I realize now that’s golf. It does
bring me a little peace that if I don’t win it
doesn’t mean I didn’t play well. It makes it pos-
sible to enjoy the game a lot more. Previously,
I would beat myself up. I enjoy the game now
more than I ever had.”
Other point accumulations from Brown this
year came in the BMW Philadelphia Amateur,
where he advanced to the Round of 16 as well
as strong finishes in the New Jersey State Golf
Association Amateur and Mid-Amateur.
Brown’s 2010 POY run had some similarities
to this year. That season he needed to make
match play of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, the last event, to finish on top. He did.
This summer’s Patterson Cup victory put
Brown on the precipice of GAP history. Brown
is a BMW Philadelphia Amateur victory away
from a career grand slam. He won the 2009
Middle-Amateur Championship and 2010
Open Championship. Only Chris Lange of
Overbrook Golf Club has turned that feat.
“That is what I want to do next,” said Brown.
Brown, who owns a Philly Pretzel Factory
shop in Cherry Hill, N.J. and writes insurance as
well, lost some form the last few years, but stabilized his game with new swing coach Scott
Yurgolevicz, Lu Lu’s teaching professional.
“I studied under the Leadbetter theory for
15 years. Specifically, the Leadbetter had me
cupping my left wrist [on take away]. Scott
has me bowing my left wrist. It gets the back-
swing and downswing plane closer together,”
said Brown. “The second half of the summer
I’ve felt some things I haven’t felt in 15 years as
far as ball striking is concerned.”
Consider that a warning — GAP Majors just
got a little saltier. m
Michael R. Brown, Jr.
LU LU COUNTRY CLUB
BY MARTIN D. EMENO, JR.
Brown salting pretzels
at his Philly Pretzel