Guilderland golf on upswing
The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael
Lining up his putt on the seventh green is Dutchmen golfer Will Burger, who shot a 43 on the Blue course at Western Turnpike on Monday. Guilderland moved to 3-7 on the season with a victory over Burnt Hills, and Burger, a freshman, is one of six Dutch golfers who have qualified for sectional tournament play later this year.
GUILDERLAND — After starting the season 0-6, Guilderland has swung its golf game around. The team posted its lowest overall score of 243 on Monday, rolling past Burnt Hills.
Mostly, golf is an individual sport, but the Dutchmen revealed some team camaraderie on Monday. After the match, the Guilderland golfers shared laughs, and some of them were wearing identical red plaid pants.
The lowest, or best, score at Western Turnpike Golf Course on Monday for Guilderland was 39, shot by both Steve Cardiff and Erik Webb. Kellen Reiner shot a 45, but one Burnt Hills golfer had scored a 50.
“This is a high-maintenance sport,” Guilderland Head Coach Andy Ryan said. “Players have to put their time into it.”
Senior Andrew Kemp has shaved four strokes off of his average from last year. He shot a 42 on Monday, but said it should have been lower.
“I was two over heading into the eighth hole, but then I hit a bad chip,” Kemp said. “That messed with my head, and everything snowballed after that.”
During a high school golf match, eight golfers from each team split into four groups for nine holes of play. At the end, the two highest scores from each team are throw out, and the remaining six scores are added together.
To qualify for sectional play later in the season, a player must shoot five rounds of eight-over-par or better, and two of those scores must come from playing a course that isn’t their own. Cardiff, Kemp, Will Burger, Jeremy Carr, Dan Rhoades, and Eric Kaufman have already qualified for the Dutchmen. Six players are the most a team can send to sectionals.
“We play here all of the time,” Carr said of Western Turnpike, owned by the town of Guilderland, which has three nine-hole courses. “We know every hole, in and out.”
However, that didn’t stop Carr from driving his second-hole tee shot 50 yards into the woods on Monday. “It was gone,” he said. “I should be shooting better.”
Guilderland, which has won three of its last four matches after starting 0-6, placed sixth out of 12 teams at the Suburban Council tournament. The Dutch had four more matches this week, so it could even its record at 7-7.
“There’s always good and bad with golf,” Kemp said. “There’s more pressure when you’re playing on a team. If you have a bad shot, or a bad hole, it’s easy to fall apart, so you have to stay strong.”
Burger, a freshman, has improved his game, dropping seven strokes off his average from last year. He was playing in the first group on Monday, next to Kemp.
Rhoades said that he’s been playing with confidence lately, and thinks that his game is reaching a level of comfort. Coach Ryan said that Rhoades’s drives have been really good.
“This is relaxing,” said Burger. “It’s fun.”