The boys golf landscape in Suffolk County, and the East End for that matter, is returning to its pre-pandemic roots, where all teams on the South Fork will return to their respective clubs.
When high school golf picked back up in a condensed early spring season, many local clubs were still closed for the season, which forced all of the teams in League VIII — East Hampton (South Fork Golf Club), Pierson (Noyac Golf Club), Southampton (Southampton Golf Club) and Westhampton Beach (Westhampton Country Club) — to play at the same club, Rock Hill Golf and Country Club in Manorville. Despite no real home-course advantage, it still made for a pretty competitive season. East Hampton went on to run away with the league title, finishing with an undefeated 10-0 record, but Southampton (7-2), Pierson (6-4), Westhampton Beach (6-4), finished just games a part from one another; both Center Moriches and William Floyd went winless.
With all of the teams back at their host clubs, though, the competition should return to what it was like in 2019, although with East Hampton returning basically its entire team from last season, the consensus is that the Bonackers are the front-runner for the league title, and could even vie for a county title.
One thing not returning from 2019, though, is the county team tournament, which the county unveiled two years ago, much to the appreciation of local coaches and golfers. Southampton wound up being runner-ups in that inaugural tournament, but the county has opted to go back to an individual conference tournament to open the postseason, which will have players from both Leagues VII and VIII looking to qualify for the county tournament and then state tournament, which returns after being canceled last season due to the pandemic.
Bonac Boasts Reigning County Champ
James Bradley, who beat out Jack Bruetsch of Center Moriches by three shots to win last year’s Suffolk County individual title, is returning this fall for what will be just his sophomore season. He leads what is still a young and talented group, with juniors J.P. Amaden and Trevor Stachecki also returning along with sophomores Nico-Horan-Puglia and Juan Palacios. Freshman Carter Dickinson joins the team this season and head coach Rich King said he is expected to fill the last remaining starting slot.
Stachecki and Horan-Puglia both reached the second day of the county tournament last season. Stachecki finished in the top 20 to earn All-County honors while Horan-Puglia just missed earning that honor by one shot. King said he likes what he has coming back, and while the consensus from around the league is that his team is the favorite to repeat, he’s not putting that on his team right now.
“I don’t really compare us to other teams,” he said. “I don’t really like to do that because golf isn’t so much a team sport. In golf, I compare the kids to themselves. If they’re a better version of themselves then by default I would say that makes us a better team. If you look at that, being we were league champs last year, and we’re returning a majority of our team, then I would agree, that would put us as the favorites.”
“I just want them to concentrate playing the best golf they can play week in and week out,” King continued. “Golf is different than other sports. Kids are posting their own numbers, they’re not competing against anyone except for the golf course. It’s stroke play so you’re just playing your best ball. Whoever shoots the best at the end of the round is the winner.”
Whalers Remain Largely Intact
Despite losing Tucker Schiavoni to graduation, Pierson/Bridgehampton returns many of its players from last season.
Leading the way will be senior Brendan Burke, who led all six Whalers at counties last season and just missed the cut for making the second day. Seniors Reed Kelsey and Vincent Cavaniola also return along with sophomore Nathan Dee. Bridgehampton junior Jack Boeshore is joining the team along with Pierson sophomores Carter Kleinsmith and Mason Wheeler and freshmen Joey Baum and Adam Drohan.
Pierson head coach Clint Schulman said with three seniors this season, next year’s team will be pretty young, but he likes what he has coming in with a very talented junior varsity team. As for this season, “We’re just hoping to be competitive. If we qualify as a team [for counties] again that would be great.”
Schreck Likes What He Has Returning
Southampton, which has seen its fair share of success the past few seasons, graduated a pair of its top golfers in Steve Kraszewski and Jack McDonnell, but head coach Tim Schreck is confident his team can continue its strong play with what it has returning.
Jack Blackmore, who finished sixth in the county last season, which would have earned him a trip to the state tournament, is returning for his senior season. His younger brother, Liam, now a junior, is also returning, along with seniors Luke Sacconaghi and Brian Emmons. Jack Brown attended St. Anthony’s High School where he played golf the past two years but is back in Southampton for his junior year and should help the team as well.
Berger To Continue To Lead Hurricanes
Zach Berger burst on to the varsity scene as a seventh grader for Westhampton Beach last season and was one of five Hurricanes to reach counties, where he was the only member of the team to make the second day. He’ll retain his number one spot in the lineup this season as an eighth grader, while freshmen Owen Jessup and Charlie Beasley return to their starting roles as well, according to head coach Fred Musumeci.
Senior Danny Naglieri returns to golf after taking last year off and he should be in the fourth spot, while junior Ryan Springer, the son of Larry Springer, head pro at Indian Island Golf Course in Riverhead, joins the team this fall. Juniors Avery Merrihew and Zack Bennett will battle it out for the sixth and final spot.
“We’re still young so we’ll see where we’re at,” Musumeci said. “We play in the toughest league in the county but we have a pretty good nucleus of young players.”
Meehan Takes Over Varsity Program
After retiring as the varsity boys basketball and baseball head coach a few years ago, Pete Meehan returns to the varsity scene as the Baymen’s new boys golf head coach. Meehan, who had coached the junior varsity squad the past seven seasons, was elevated to varsity after previous coach John Foster was named the district’s new athletic director.
Meehan takes over a team that only lost one key player, David Catena, to graduation, so the team is largely intact. That includes Erik Sandstrom, now a sophomore, who was one of three Baymen to reach the county tournament last spring and played well enough to play on the second day.
“He puts a tremendous amount of time in and takes the sport serious,” Meehan said of Sandstrom. “He averaged a 44 last year, but has gotten better. He’s a pretty steady one for us.”
Aidan Kamp, a senior, and Mike Poremba, a sophomore, will be interchangeable at the two and three spots, Meehan said. Junior Jamie Moore, sophomore Rieve Nydegger and senior Andrew Oh should fill in the team’s back half of its lineup. Sophomore Dylan Foley and senior Hayden Bevis fill out the rest of the roster.
Hampton Bays, which went 2-3 in a shortened spring season, will continue to compete in League VII where Mattituck, and Eastport-South Manor to a lesser extent, has reigned supreme in recent seasons and looks to continue to do the same. But after that, the Baymen should be competitive with the rest of the league, which includes Greenport/Southold, Riverhead and Shelter Island.