HARWICH ─ When Monomoy golfer Jake Poitras first invited teammate and fellow senior Matt Veary to hit the links with him, Veary wasn't having it.
“He started playing a couple months before I did and was like, 'Come to the driving range with me,'” Veary recollected. “I said, 'Nah. Golf's not fun. Why would I want to do that?' Then I did and I loved it. I had no intentions of continuing to play, but then I fell in love with the game.”
Not only was that auspicious foray onto to the front nine the beginning of stellar golf careers for both young men, but it was also the start of a lasting friendship cemented by a shared love of the sport that saw them hone their skills since their first outings in middle school to their stellar senior season that saw the Sharks finish their 2017 outing at 13-4 overall before a strong performance at the South Sectionals on Oct. 23.
Veary said something he appreciates most about the sport is that while student athletes compete on a team, each performance falls squarely on the shoulders of the individual golfer.
“It's self-rewarding,” he said. “When you put in the work and then actually play well, it was only you that did it. It's good being on a team and having close friends and teammates that you can count on, but when you do well you know you did it yourself. It's very rewarding.”
Poitras, who golfs with the Sharks and in tournaments and events during the off-season, appreciates the team camaraderie.
“It's fun,” he said. “It's cool to go around as a team and have that bond between all the players.”
As Poitras and Veary became a familiar duo at local courses, their friendship helped improve their game play, and vice versa.
“Both of us push each other to get better,” said Poitras. “I always feel like I'm trying to shoot better than him. It makes us better because that's how we get better. We need something to shoot for, and that's it.”
“Jake and I have always played together pretty much, throughout the years,” added Veary. “It's just easy to play with him. He knows my game better than anyone else and I know his game pretty well too.”
For those that think the game of golf is a breeze compared to other sports, the Poitras-Veary duo begs to differ.
“I tell them to go try and play golf and come back to me,” said Veary. “It's not an easy thing to do. You can only get so far being athletic in another sport. You still have to be athletic in golf, but you have to know what you're doing and take time and study the game.”
That said, Poitras appreciates that golf is a game for everyone.
“I feel like one of the cool things about golf is that you don't have to be the greatest athlete to play,” he said. “It doesn't matter if you're not one of those kids that goes and works out all the time. I feel like anybody can play golf. You don't have to be the strongest person. I don't go to the gym and I still hit the ball 300 yards.”
Just be warned that golf is definitely a cerebral sport, along with the physical.
“You can't be easily irritated by yourself or other people. Especially other people,” said Veary. “If you let other people annoy you while you're playing, that's all you're going to focus on. You're not going to play well. You have to stay within yourself.”
“I've definitely gotten better with my mental game since I first started,” said Poitras. “I used to get so mad at anything I did wrong. Now it's just part of the game. Have a bad shot, have a bad round, even a bad week, it just comes around.”
While golf has certainly offered a strong foundation for the duo's friendship, so too has their shared passion for music. Poitras plays both the trumpet and piano, while Veary sings and plays guitar and bass.
“Between golf and music we've spent so much time together it's like we're brothers,” said Veary.
With the end of their senior season upon them, both are reflecting on their respective and combined careers, with both having served the Monomoy team as captains for the past two seasons.
“This is the best start we've had, and our best record,” said Veary, who said that he and Poitras have happily held positions of leadership on the team regardless of title.
“It's kind of a role, I wouldn't say we got thrown into it, but it's always kind of been there,” Veary said. “The whole team's so close that it's not like we're the scary captains. The only year we weren't really looked at as leaders was our freshman year when there were four or five seniors on the team.”
“I feel like this year more than any other we've definitely taken more responsibility for the team and getting practices set up and pushing other kids to get better,” said Poitras. “We had a lot of kids show up for captains' practices over the summer. A lot of new kids.”
Poitras especially likes that all of the team's new eighth grade players showed up, which helped the captains get to know them better before the season started versus meeting everyone at the first official fall practice.
“It's good because there's so much interest in the program,” Veary said. “The future's going to be good.”
So are there moments from their respective careers they're proud of? Definitely.
“We've both had winning records every year,” said Poitras, who, along with Veary, was proud of earning a spot in sectionals each season.
For Veary, an individual highlight was shooting one under par at Chatham Seaside Links, while for Poitras there were a few more.
“Winning sectionals sophomore year by shooting a 76,” he said. “Then last year I was co-medalist for the Cape and Islands High School Championship. I shot five-over for 27 holes and ended up losing in a three-way playoff, but I still shot the lowest of the round.”
Now both are setting their sights on college. While Matt plans on taking time off athletically to focus on academics, Poitras' dream is finding a school where he can be on the golf team and major in music.
“It's hard to find a place that has both,” he said.
Before they move on to their next adventure, they offer a piece of advice to up-and-coming duffers.
“The only thing you can do is your own thing, and then everybody else has got to do their own thing,” said Poitras. “If the best is what you shot, then that's it.”
“Leave it all on the course,” said Veary. “That's what I'm going to do.”