Coach Halverson and his golfers celebrate their win in the NYSAIS tournament.
Rye Country Day Boys’ Golf
Wildcats Squeak to Victory in NYSAIS Tourney
By Mitch Silver
Golf is a funny sort of team sport. Like high school tennis and squash players, golfers have no one else to depend on but themselves when they’re out on the course. But unlike tennis or squash, you play against that course, not an opponent. At least, not directly. And unlike those other sports, what matters isn’t the number of your players who outscore their players. Rather, it’s the collective score posted by your top five against their top five. One weak round spoils it for everybody.
Which is why, in a tournament like the New York State Association of Independent Schools’ year-end gala, the pressure is on every hole and every stroke all day long. And why the camaraderie on the winning team is so intense: each golfer knows he can only succeed when every other individual does.
Now imagine a tournament with five teams all charging down the back nine with a chance to win. Rye Country Day, Fieldston, Horace Mann, Trinity, and Riverdale traded the lead back and forth, with the Wildcats’ 391prevailing by a single stroke over Fieldston and Horace Mann. The Lions and Eagles tied for second at 392. Jackson Gaynor posted the low round of 75 for locals. Charlie Smilovic shot a 76, Charles Jolly 77, AJ Asness 81, and Sebastian Jolly shot an 82.
A happy Head Coach Leif Halverson said afterwards, “All of our players are capable of putting up great scores on any given day. We’ve had different golfers record the low round at several of our matches.”
By shooting a top-6 NYSAIS round, Gaynor earned his way into the Federation Cup, the New York State Championship for public, private, and parochial school golfers to be held June 9 on the Bethpage Black course that recently hosted the PGA Championship.
“Bethpage is an extremely difficult course, but a great course,” the coach said. “The key is to be patient and not challenge it until you get a good opportunity. Choose the safe play; don’t try to make something out of nothing.” He chuckled. “It is very easy to turn a bogey into a double or worse if you try to push it. If there is wind, then it becomes even harder. The pros struggled in the PGA to shoot par when the weather changed. Playing conservative and within yourself and knowing your capabilities and your weaknesses is the key to scoring well.”
How does the coach expect his golfer to fare? “Jackson is a very good golfer. He has a very natural, fluid stroke. He works very hard on his game in practice, in matches, and with a coach outside of school. Bethpage is an extremely hard course, so he will have his work cut out for him, but I think he’s ready for the challenge.”