HARWICH ─ Monomoy golfer Jake Poitras had one goal for the 2015-2016 school year: to make the New England Championship. He did, but weeks before he was to play, the then sophomore suffered a broken elbow playing baseball for the Sharks, an injury that required a cast – and no golf – for weeks.
Though sidelined for a bit, Poitras remained undaunted, returning to his beloved sport with gusto, winning the Cape Cod Junior Golf Association Tournament at Olde Barnstable Golf Club on July 13 with an impressive final score of 74 just three weeks after his cast was finally removed.
Poitras was surprised and thrilled with the win and his return to the links.
“I got my cast off about three or four weeks ago and had to do a lot of physical therapy,” he said, adding that the break occurred during a collision with a teammate. “At first it was a little frustrating because I obviously hadn't played [golf] for two months. It had been two months since I swung a club and it was tough getting back out there because I almost forgot how to swing. Just doing it for the first time felt pretty nice.”
It felt even better to win, something Poitras said was unexpected.
“Through nine holes I was one under par,” he said. “I knew that I was playing a really good round, but I wasn't expecting to win because there were a few other kids who were really good playing in the event. I didn't expect to win so it just caught me off guard. It was a bonus to a good round.”
Poitras shot a 74 on 18 holes. The previous week he marked his debut in another tournament and though he didn't win, he still shot a respectable 77, a score even seasoned golfers aim for.
“That was the first 18 holes I played since I returned to golf,” he said.
Poitras began hitting the local links as a youngster, becoming more serious about the game when he was in middle school.
“I love how it's just such a strange game, because every time you play is not the exact same. Every single time it's a little bit different,” he said. “You're never in the same spot, so you have to play pretty much a different game every single day, rather than in basketball or baseball where you're playing on the same court or the same field, and can shoot the same shots, or are hitting the same shots in baseball. In golf you're never going to hit the same shot twice.”
In the years since first picking up a club, Poitras has become a fixture at local courses, including Cranberry Valley – his favorite – and is set to become one of three co-captains of the Monomoy boys varsity golf team this fall along with Christian Pavlakis and Matt Veary.
Poitras said head coach John Anderson gave them some summer homework that each has taken quite seriously.
“He gave us the responsibility of getting the team to the next level and becoming a great team,” Poitras said.
To ensure that level of success, the trio have been holding captain's practices this summer in order to help their fellow teammates improve.
“The three of us have been trying to play with other members of the team and get to know them better because one of the most important parts of golf is team chemistry,” Poitras said.
Poitras is determined to see his team reach the state tournament.
“For the rest of the summer I'm hoping to just continue to play well and get better, and along with the rest of my team, continue to shoot lower scores in the hopes that we can make states as a team,” he said. “That's my ultimate goal for this season.”
Improving his own game is a big part of building the overall team's success. To date, the best Poitras has ever shot was a 73 at a tournament at Cape Cod Country Club, which proved the winning score.
“There's always room to improve,” he said. “There are always places I need to work on in my game. It's never going to be perfect.”
But Poitras said attitude can be everything.
“If I hit a bad shot, I know that's going to happen, so the next shot is the important shot,” he said. “If I hit a terrible shot, I just say, 'OK. What can I do better next time?' There's no point in getting mad over it because it's just going to mess up the rest of your round if you let it get to you.”
If Poitras has his wish, it will be to someday turn professional. He's hoping to start by becoming a known name locally and in the region.
“I just hope that I can get out there,” he said. “To get my name out there and get some sort of recognition. I had the opportunity to play in the New England Championship and I couldn't. I still qualified, so I have that, but I would have liked the experience to play.”
And to golfers wondering whether they should stick with the game, Poitras has simple advice.
“It sounds really cliché, but never give up,” he said. “It's a very frustrating sport, but once you break through and you get to the point where you're hitting average scores, and you're having fun while doing it, that's all that matters.”