Coach: Karl Yergey
MVP: Will Hertel
MIP: John Gilbert Storey
Coaches’ Award: Frankie Corsi
Excessive heat. Multitudes of rain. Gusting winds. The 2018 Golf team felt the impact of each over eight weeks of scheduled competitions. After playing a well-received 18-hole “scrimmage” event at the site of the MAC Tournament during Welcome Week in late August, the Saints played one 9-hole match against Potomac the first week of classes at Beaver Creek. Falling to the Panthers, the Saints looked to get into the win column in early September. “Mother Nature,” however, had other plans as the Saints suffered four consecutive cancellations as a result of weather. Rain took one more match off the Saints’ schedule in late September.
Beyond the loss of matches, weather prevented the Saints’ from getting access to courses when local venues attempted to make-up lost revenue by packing the tee sheets or didn’t want high school golfers out on the course in “iffy,” soaked conditions where damage might be done to the course. As a result, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that the Saints’ biggest weakness this year was lack of consistency. For example, rather than have “routine” scores – i.e., relatively similar scores in relation to par in each match – the guys flip-flopped between playing well and poorly.
That being said, we played our best in mid-September when the work and routines from June, July, and August still remained fresh. Victories against Saint Andrew’s School and Clear Spring High School highlighted the Saints’ abilities. In the Clear Spring match at a water-logged Whitetail Golf Resort, the team shot a season-best team score of 172. Fifth Former Will Hertel took medalist honors with a 4-over par score of 40, while Tripp Bagarus (Fifth Form), John Gilbert Storey (Fourth Form), and Frankie Corsi (Fourth Form) all came in under 46 strokes each. Thanks to Mr. Rich Hogan’s generous offer to have the guys out for practice, taking the top 6 players to the course prior to the Clear Spring match helped with sight lines, putting, and held off the distractions related to practice here on campus.
When the calendar changed to October, the Saints finally got consecutive matches under our belts. Unfortunately, each of these matches resulted in annoyingly close, frustrating losses. Despite John Gilbert Storey’s 39 (4-over par) against GDS and St. Anselm’s Abbey School at Bretton Woods, any momentum carried from the earlier victories disappeared. That we didn’t play better in October might be blamed on September’s weather and lack of matches, but, more likely resulted from the inability to practice off-site because of poor course conditions.
Fortunately, with a turn in weather after Fall Long Weekend, the top 6 got out to Maryland National to use that course’s “short game” area prior to the MAC and IPSL tournaments. This one practice – where the guys could putt on fast greens, chip and pitch to a proper green, and use a different driving range – made a significant difference in our final two matches. What would have happened at either of the year-end events had we not gone to Maryland National for some much-needed work is anybody’s guess. Despite gusty winds and low temperatures, there is no doubt in my mind that the “rebound” in play by the Saints at the MAC Tournament – where we finished 5th – and the IPSL Tournament – where we narrowly lost the title to Mercersburg Academy – can be correlated to our practice session in Myersville. Further, I suspect that outstanding individual play of Will Hertel, who earned All-MAC honors (tied 9th with an 83) and All-IPSL honors (co-medalist with a 42) – becoming the first Saint James golfer to earn this double distinction since 2013 – and Benson Riser (Third Form), who earned All-IPSL honors (4th place with a 44), would not have happened without the trip to Maryland National.
Two other golfers played in the #6 slot this season. Third Former Luke Barnes made contributions in two matches to start the season. Sixth Former Zach Crampton’s work ethic and athleticism brought him into the starting line-up by mid-September against Clear Spring. From this point, Zach joined the others in the line-up regularly.
The top five golfers all return next year, and Saint James Golf should find itself headed in the right direction and to higher finishes in the MAC and IPSL in 2019 should the guys embrace the need to play and practice regularly next summer and focus on process before score. Indeed, I remain optimistic about the 2019 season!