Golf overcomes rocky start and shifts focus towards making sectional tournament

Though the team started off with an 0–2 record, the Little Tigers have clawed back by winning three of their last four games. Their remaining schedule leaves little room for error, as they can only afford to lose one more match and qualify for sectionals.

Harry Skopas ’19 uses an iron to hit out of the rough during a practice at The Bedens Brook Club golf course. The team has a record of 3–3 as of 4/25. photo by <span class="credit credit- "><a href="/credit/"Jack/" title="View all of this person's work">"Jack</a></span>

Harry Skopas ’19 uses an iron to hit out of the rough during a practice at The Bedens Brook Club golf course. The team has a record of 3–3 as of 4/25.
photo by Jack Phelan

The two early losses to West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South and Notre Dame High School combined with the March snowstorm gave the team a rough start. The delay caused by the storm pushed tryouts back and intensified the team’s schedule.

“We lost two very good seniors, two core members of our team. It was also hard that we had to go into two of our hardest matches of the entire year for our first two games this season,” said Harry Skopas ’19.

Despite the initial setbacks, returning varsity members kept sharp during the offseason and returned this season with a roster of players that had built a strong team dynamic.

“We felt in past years we came back rusty, but we’ve been fortunate enough to have one of our varsity members offer us a simulator, so groups from our top six players could stay in shape at the Princeton Country Club. The simulators allow us to practice every part of our game. We could use their indoor simulators in the winters to prevent coming back rusty, which was an issue in the past,” said Co-captain Joseph Phelan ’17.

On the course, competitors play in groups of four: a pair from each competing school. Despite golf being an individual sport, Co-Captain Kelly Qiu and Phelan both stress the importance of having a good partner.

“It’s important for your teammate to be there for you, because golf is a very emotional and mental game. They can help keep your confidence high,” said Qiu.

“A strong team dynamic is all about trust in each other. Trust in your playing partner, and trust in the team. We had trust in our teammates that they’d perform when they needed to, but we’d be understanding if they didn’t, and always look toward next time,” Phelan said.

The team shook off the poor start by training during the lull in their schedule for spring break. There were no official team practices but players took to the courses on their own to iron out weaknesses.

“I think that the short game is a big problem for us. Short game includes chipping and putting; we focus on hitting the longshots like driving, but chipping and putting are incredibly important. We’ve worked on practicing our short game for the future,” Qiu said.

The team is guided by Head Coach Sheryl Severance who is pushing their performance on the course to new heights with her drive to win.

“She is very motivational and she is hard on us when she has to be, but for the most part she is very enthusiastic and encouraging because she knows we can all play better,” Skopas said. “She teaches us how to play the course with the conditions we are under and advises when we go out there.”

“Ms. Severance has never had a season in her 20-something years where she’s had more losses than wins. So one of our mini goals is not to end that streak. And if we do well enough at the sectional tournament, we can even make the state tournament, which is extremely difficult. But we’re not going to get too ahead of ourselves, and right now, we’re putting all our focus into sectionals,” Phelan said.

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