by Tom Utescher
At the Inter-Ac League’s Bert Linton Individual Golf Championships last Thursday, it was a case of familial déjà vu for event host Penn Charter.
On the Quakers’ home course at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club, freshman Patrick Isztwan won the 2017 league crown with a five-over-par score of 75 (37 out/38 in). Three years earlier, Isztwan’s brother Brian was a freshman when he won the individual championship tourney at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill Course.
The elder Isztwan didn’t have one of his better rounds last Thursday (39/49 – 88), but overall his senior season has been quite successful. Just three days earlier, in the last of the league’s six team outings, he secured the regular-season Inter-Ac crown by shooting a one-under 34 in an event hosted by Episcopal Academy at Merion’s West Course. He crafted an average score of 36.0 for the season as a whole.
Wrapping up its fourth tournament victory at Merion, Haverford School won the team title for 2017. Penn Charter and Episcopal tied at Merion West, and earlier each school had won one of the Inter-Ac events. With slightly better placings overall, Episcopal finished second in the team rankings ahead of PC, and after that came Malvern Prep, Germantown Academy and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
At Huntingdon Valley last Thursday, scores were somewhat inflated since the recent stretch of nice weather, while enjoyable overall, had left the greens quite dry – and fast. Nevertheless, the younger Isztwan’s efforts landed him one stroke ahead of the runner-up from Haverford, sophomore Charlie Baker.
“At Merion on Monday,” he related, “I didn’t get the ball where it needed to be, but here [at HVCC] I knew where I needed to hit the ball and I succeeded in doing it.”
He lives close to the Huntingdon Valley course, and that means a 40-minute commute to Penn Charter for the new league champ and his older brother.
Patrick entered the school as a seventh-grader, and as he came of age for varsity competition in golf, he recalls, “My brother told me that I was definitely good enough to play varsity, so that helped me feel comfortable. It’s great to always have him around; when I’m struggling a bit he’s there to help.”
At the Bert Linton event (named after the longtime Penn Charter teacher and golf coach), Malvern Prep golfers performed better than they did in the team outings. With scores of 77, Friars senior Matt Davis and junior John Updike matched cards to determine the winner of the third-place trophy; it went to the Villanova-bound Davis. Malvern also had two other 11th-graders turn in scores of 78 and 79. In all, four different players came to the clubhouse with a 79.
The lone Springside Chestnut Hill player who qualified for the individual tourney, sophomore Justin Dougherty, took advantage of the opportunity by producing a round of 81 (40/41), which put him in the top 10. Germantown Academy’s qualifier, junior Nick Schnur, took 45 strokes out and 42 in for an 87.
In the Penn Charter contingent, the Isztwan brothers were accompanied by seniors Noah Schwartz (41/45 – 86) and Dante DiStefano (46/53 – 99).
Brian Isztwan plans to play golf in college, and said he’s close to making a decision in that regard.
Younger brother Patrick related that while he’s always been an accomplished short game player, recently he’s made major strides in other areas.
“I’m definitely hitting the ball a lot farther than last year,” he said. “I’ve grown six inches since then. I’m also playing more consistently and I’m feeling my swing a lot more.
“Putting has always come easiest to me,” he went on. “I’ve always had to work on my swing and getting the ball to go where I want it to go.”
Patrick and Brian’s parents both play golf recreationally, so there’s always one activity that everyone can enjoy on family vacations. After the short ride home from the tournament on Thursday there would be no awkward moments around the dinner table, since each brother was making an addition to the Isztwan trophy case.