Westhampton Beach boys golf head coach Fred Musumeci was walking up the 18th hole of Westhampton Country Club with his top two players, Cole Federico and Mackenzie Kim, on October 29, an off day in between the Section XI Individual Championships, which were played at Rock Hill Golf and Country Club in Manorville. They were about to finish their practice round when one of the players said, “Well, I guess this is our last practice together.” Musumeci turned, looked at both of his players and said, “We’re going to be practicing this spring.”
He was right.
Federico and Kim, both seniors, qualified for the New York State Championships, which are played at the end of May, for the first time in their careers. Each took a different path to get there. Federico played very strong in his second day and finished with an overall round of 75 to finish fifth in the county. The top nine in the county advance to states, and as it has happened over the past couple of years, there was a four-way tie for the final three spots.
Kim, Pierson senior Henry Brooks, a Ward Melville player and a Commack player all had to play a one-hole playoff. Kim didn’t hit the greatest ball off the tee but it took what Musumeci said was a lucky bounce, landing in front of one of the big rocks on the course.
He was able to play for par, as was Brooks, who was no stranger to having to win a playoff to go to states. He did it just last season.
“Except this one he was definitely more relaxed in, I think because he knew one of the kids playing in Mackenzie Kim, and because there were three spots open, not just one like last year,” Pierson head coach Clint Schulman explained.
Brooks is the only player in Pierson boys golf history, which is over a half century old, to ever qualify for the state meet, and he’s done it twice in a row now.
“It’s an amazing achievement. I’m really proud of him,” Schulman said. “I don’t know if it was something he really considered was possible his freshman or sophomore years, that he was as good as he really is.”
With Federico, Kim and Brooks all qualifying for states, a third of the county’s golfers heading upstate hail from League VIII.
“Cole was just locked in,” Musumeci said. “He chipped in for birdie on the ninth hole from under a tree. It was an amazing shot from 30 yards out, one bounce and in. They [Kim and Federico] were just locked in and focused. It was amazing to watch.”
East Hampton’s James Bradley and Southampton’s Jack McDonnell and Chris Kreymborg all made the cut to play on the second day, which meant they earned All-County honors. McDonnell and Kreymborg are Southampton’s first All-County golfers since Christian Oakley in 2017. Their head coach, Tim Schreck, said he thought they played well overall.
“Both of them felt like walking off the course they could have done better, but I think that’s always the case,” he said. “They had shot much better at the conference tournament, which was also at Rock Hill, Jack especially. In conference he shot a 79, but ended up with an 84 and 82 at counties, so he was hoping to play a little better. I think the front nine caught both Jack and Chris. They both played much better on back. But I think they played well. The competition was tough and just making it to states alone is very difficult.”
Hurricanes Coady Sumwalt, Bennett Parli and Matthew Meyer all competed on the first day of counties but didn’t make the cut of 86 to move on to the second day. Aiden Kamp of Hampton Bays, and Jack Blackmore, Daniel Silverberg and Steve Kraszewski of
Southampton all missed the cut as well. Blackmore and Silverberg each finished with 87s, one shot over the cut, as did East Hampton’s Nico Horan-Puglia.
Schreck mentioned that this season, maybe more than ever, the magnitude of one shot and how much it can sway entire outcomes, came into play.
“We were one stroke from being undefeated, one stroke from having four guys going to final day of individual counties and being All-County, and only a shot or two decided Sebonack. It’s crazy what one shot in golf can decide,” he said.
The individual county tournament brought the conclusion to what may have been the longest season of high school golf on record. The county team tournament added a whole new aspect to the sport, adding, for teams such as county finalists Southampton and Ward Melville, five extra matches, nearly a whole additional half of a season. Schreck, heading up those county finalist Mariners, said the new team tournament was fun in many ways, but there may need to be some tweaks going forward.
“There was some school time lost, and the kids might be happy with that, but the teachers are not. The grades may not be reflective of that,” he joked. “When you win all of those extra matches it’s bound to be fun, but what it did to our regular season, condensing it into four weeks, it took a toll on the kids. I think the season is marathon already, even more so this year, so it really was a test of will and endurance. In the middle of October we had been on the bus four times a week. I think the tournament is fun and it’s good, and we had good weather so it worked out, but it took its toll by condensing the regular season the way it did.
“I think there is going to be a lot of conversation going forward on if we should have this same format or if it needs to be tweaked,” Schreck added. “Maybe not as many teams qualify. Maybe 16 will work instead of 24. Again, it worked out and it was successful and it was fun, but I do think it’s going to be tweaked and worked on over the next few seasons and I think every school probably has its own thoughts and feelings toward it, so we’ll see what the consensus is.”