The best golf team in East Hampton High School history was feted by the officers of the South Fork Country Club one evening recently as the sun was beginning to set beyond the back nine.
South Fork has been the Bonackers’ home course for years now, and Alex Walter, the Amagansett club’s president, told the gathering of players, parents, and club directors, including John Keeshan, John Claflin, Pat Bistrian, Jim McMullan, Larry Cantwell, and Tom Maas, the club’s general manager, that he had never heard a complaint concerning the young golfers’ conduct, only compliments.
What this year’s team — a good one made great by the reappearance here last summer of Zach Grossman, who had spent three years in Charleston, S.C. — had done was, said Walter, “unprecedented.”
Claude Beudert, who has coached the sport for the past 25 years, had to agree. And the team, said Walter, who couldn’t resist a little ribbing, had done it “despite their coach.” He could only conclude that the parents deserved the credit.
Again, Beudert said, he had to agree.
To recapitulate: Bonac’s team went 10-0 in league play, 12-0 over all, won Suffolk County and Long Island championships, each for the first time, shot a record 187 (a 37.4 average per player) in the home match with Pierson, won the conference’s sportsmanship award, and was an all-state academic team with a 93 average.
Moreover, in the past five years the team (without Grossman in three of them) posted a record of 52-4, and won the League VIII title in all five of those years. Beudert-coached teams now have won league championships in 12 of the past 13 years.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” said Walter. “We’re so very proud of you — you are what they’re talking about when they say ‘student-athlete.’ You’ve represented our club so well. You’re always going to remember this.”
Winning the county and Long Island championships was all the more remarkable inasmuch as those tournaments are played in the spring while East Hampton’s golf season, unlike the UpIsland schools, is in the fall. Obviously, the long layover didn’t hurt, even though a number of the golfers played other sports in the interim.
Ian Lynch, a sophomore who made all-state (as did Grossman), worked on his game pretty much exclusively. Grossman was on the varsity boys basketball team in the winter and worked on his golf game in the spring, deciding ultimately not to play tennis as he had originally planned. Cameron Yusko, John Pizzo, and Jim McMullan played baseball in the spring and John Nolan played lacrosse.
Zach’s father, Jon, said that his son’s short game had benefited greatly from the fact that “within 100 yards of the greens South Fork is tougher than any course I know.” When he wanted length, Zach worked out at Montauk Downs.
When the fall season began, Beudert said he wasn’t sure whether the team would be able to play at South Fork given the fact that the front nine, on which East Hampton’s teams have played for years, had been made off limits so that a disease that had hit the poa grass greens could be treated.
The back nine greens, which are of bent grass, were unaffected.
Walter said there never had been a question as to whether the team, which was to share the back nine with the members in the fall, would stay.
When it came his turn, Beudert said Grossman had, as aforesaid, made a good team great, and had led by example; that Nolan had been a winner all five years; that Lynch and Yusko, a three-sport athlete used to the demands of competition, would lead the team next year, and that Pizzo and McMullan, the best five and six you could want, had added to the team’s depth.
Grossman and Lynch wound up on the all-state team; Yusko made all-conference, and Nolan all-league.
In the fall, Grossman is to matriculate at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Nolan will enter Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, where he’s expected to play lacrosse. “Though he could play golf if he wanted,” said his coach.
Before parting, Zach Grossman gave Walter a plaque with a photo of the team and its accomplishments. The club, in turn, gave the players goodie bags with hats, shirts, and balls.