The Rye Neck golf team is on fire this season. The Panthers have only lost twice in league play this season, with an overall record of 11-6. The team’s virtue is in its familiar – and familial – nature on and off the course.
By Kevin LaManna
The Rye Neck golf team is on fire this season. The Panthers have only lost twice in league play this season, with an overall record of 11-6.
The team’s virtue is in its familiar – and familial – nature on and off the course.
Michael Spiegel and his twin sister Whitney Spiegel are tri-captains along with Zubayr Fentas. They provide the core leadership for a team that has evolved into a force to be reckoned with, according to Coach Mark Canno. Teammates Luke Murphy and Ryan Morningstar also are having phenomenal golf seasons, Canno said.
“We all help each other out,’’ said Michael Spiegel. “If one player is having trouble with his short game we all work on putts together. If another of us has never played a given course before, we offer support and tips that have served us well.”
Whitney Spiegel applauded her coach and brother in explaining their runaway success as a team this year: “Coach has done such a great job encouraging new kids to come out, and this year we even have a fair number of players without any competitive experience.”
Whitney scored a season best 42 against Westlake at Elmwood Country Club. Regarding her pairing with her brother in a recent match, Whitney said, “Playing with Mike has been really special and a lot of fun.”
Coach Canno said the family dynamics of the golf team makes it a fierce competitor on the fairway.
“This year’s been really incredibly exciting,” Canno said. “It’s great to see the kids having so much fun, and so edifying to see these young golfers coaching each other as much as I coach them.”
In Canno’s eighth year as head coach, the Panthers have defeated three teams twice this season: Westlake, Ossining, and Croton. Rye Neck has beaten Valhalla three times on the links; its league record was 10-2.
The Panthers suffered a tough defeat April 30, losing to league rival Briarcliff and non-league powerhouse Horace Greeley at Sleepy Hollow Country Club. The good news was Whitney Spiegel golfed her best match ever, scoring a 41, just one stroke behind her twin brother, Michael, who scored a 40.
“This is one of my best teams,” Canno said, and the most consistent team he’s ever coached.
Rye Neck’s other losses came against Mamaroneck, John Jay, and Hastings (by a mere two strokes).
Coach Canno said the players have maintained their poise and excelled despite being exposed to so many different courses. Their home course is Hampshire, but Rye Neck already has played on Elmwood, Sleepy Hollow, and Whippoorwill country clubs this season.