East Hampton High School’s golf coach, Claude Beudert, wasn’t sure when the fall began that his squad, which last spring won county and Long Island titles, would repeat as the League VIII champion.
For one, Zach Grossman, the former number-one and the county’s individual champion, and John Nolan, the former number-two, had left for college — Grossman to Skidmore and Nolan to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — and two, a potential starter had decided to play boys volleyball rather than golf.
When Beudert questioned Ian Lynch, this fall’s number-one, about the defection, “He said, ‘Don’t worry, coach, we’re okay.’ ”
And indeed the junior Ivy League hopeful was right. East Hampton’s 6.5-2.5 win over Southampton at the Southampton Golf Club on Oct. 12 assured the Bonackers of yet another league championship — their 8th straight and the team’s 12th in the past 14 years.
“It’s pretty satisfying,” Beudert said in recounting the exciting tilt, which was all even after the first five pairings had been played, leaving it all on the shoulders of East Hampton’s sixth man, Andrew Winthrop.
“Ian shot a one-under-par 33 on Southampton’s front nine, the best score we’ve had in the 25 years I’ve been coaching, including Zach,” East Hampton’s coach said. “Ian beat their number-one, Scott Ricca, by four strokes, and Cameron [Yusko] beat Peter Barnaby by three, so we were up by seven after those two had played.”
“John Pizzo shot a 40 at three, but lost to their seventh grader, Christian Oakley, who shot a 36. So, we were only up by three then. At four, Evan Scheuch beat Matt Griffiths by three, so it was all even at that point,” Beudert said. “Jimmy McMullan and Nick Acquino halved their match at five, each shooting 41, leaving it all up to Andrew, who had no idea the match was hanging on him. As it turned out, Andrew beat his guy by five shots, with a personal-record 38, which couldn’t have come at a better time.”
“In individual matches, we won 3.5 and they won 2.5, and then, by substituting Andrew’s round for Matt’s, we won the three points you’re awarded for the lower aggregate score, 192 strokes to 197.”
Asked if his players had jumped up and down afterward, Beudert said, “No, but they were about as excited as a golf team can be. . . . When on the bus ride home I reminded Ian of what he’d said at the beginning of the season, he just smiled.”
Quite a bit of preparation had gone into the match at Southampton, Beudert said. During the previous weekend, he and Lee Minetree had walked Southampton’s nine, whose traps and greens had been altered somewhat since East Hampton last played there. Together, they drew up a book with helpful hints having to do with “yardage, conditions, uphill, downhill, and the greens.”
“The day before the match, Jason Jeffries, one of the assistants at Maidstone, worked with our guys on their putting, chipping, and ball-stroking, and then, too, it was nice for us that we’d played a couple of away matches before the one at Southampton. . . . You can become so familiar with your home course that you become complaisant.”
“Barry [Raebeck, Southampton’s coach] was gracious, though I know he’s competitive. It was a case of our winning rather than them losing. When the bell rang, we answered it. To have averaged 38 per man in that competitive situation was great.”
“Last year, a league championship was a given. This year . . . we had a bull’s-eye on our back. Winning a league championship this year wasn’t easy. Though our four returnees and the others who stepped up worked hard and showed a lot of character. John Pizzo wore the shorts he’d worn at Bethpage when we won the county championship last spring. I brought that white tee I’d picked up there as a talisman. I’ve had it in my pocket every day!”
The 9-0 team as of earlier this week had two matches yet to play, with Pierson at the Noyac Golf and Country Club on Tuesday, and at home at the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett yesterday with Shelter Island, a nonleague opponent.
And the spring tournament? “That can wait,” said Beudert. “For now we’re enjoying our league championship.”