CHATHAM – As if the Monomoy girls golf team needed any extra motivation to qualify for this year’s state championship, the thought of playing the Eastward Ho! Country Club later in the spring serves as a tangible incentive for the Sharks.
Even on a chilly and windy day, such as Monday afternoon, the private member-owned course still greets the team with a magical aura. While the girls zigzag over the hilly fairways and try to navigate quick-and-difficult greens, they know that performing well this season might lead them back to Eastward Ho! for the state championship.
That’s the team’s goal after missing out on last year’s state championship following a perfect 12-0 regular season and a Cape and Islands League title.
“The team has big expectations and everyone has come ready to play,” Monomoy coach John Anderson said moments after the Sharks improved to 3-0 following Monday’s 4.5-1.5 victory over Nauset at Eastward Ho! “They practiced all winter, so it’s going as scheduled. Our goal is to make it to the [state] final, which is here. That’s what we’re focused on.”
The team lost one senior, Jane Howard, from last year to graduation, although many of the remaining players still provide seasoned leadership. The leadership starts with a pair of Harwich residents, senior Charlotte Blute and junior Jennie Grogan, who play together as the team’s top pairing.
Blute has been on the team since she was in eighth grade, and Grogan returns as one of the best players in the state. As much success as she has experienced in the past, however, Grogan is still easing her way back from a back injury that forced her to withdraw from last year’s South sectional match and then kept her sidelined throughout the summer and fall while she rehabbed and attended physical therapy.
“It was knots and tension and the way that I was swinging was causing it to get worse, so I had to stop and do some strengthening exercises and take a different swing approach so that it wouldn’t keep happening,” said Grogan, who added that she is finally starting to feel like her normal self. “I played my best today that I have this season. I think it’s getting there; I’m getting back in my groove.”
On Monday, the Sharks were led by Grogan, seniors Isabela McMahon and Yu Shang Zou and sophomore Ava Packett, all of whom earned individual victories in match play. Monomoy sophomore Yu Ying Zou and Nauset sophomore Megan Dalmau each earned a half point for their respective teams after tying. Nauset freshman Sophie Sullivan earned the Warriors’ lone victory, defeating Blute in the matchup between the teams’ No. 2 players.
While Monomoy has picked up where it left off last spring — earning a season-opening 5.5-1 victory over Falmouth on April 5 before collecting back-to-back wins over the Warriors — Nauset (1-2) is getting acclimated to its new coach. Brian Hicks, a history teacher in the school, took over the girls program from Andrea Johnson and Greg Barr, who served as co-coaches last spring.
“They have a great spirit,” said Hicks, who also coaches Nauset’s boys golf team, when asked about the girls. “They’ve picked me up every day at practice. It’s been cold and windy to start, and they haven’t complained about it one bit. They’re excited to be there. There have been a couple days that I have a headache leaving school but then I end up leaving practice feeling great. They lift my spirts, they’re a fun group.”
“I think we’re really dedicated,” added Nauset junior co-captain Kerry Ferrell. “Every single person has a really good, positive attitude going into every match, which is what you want to see in a team.”
Although the teams will meet for a third and final match May 3 at Monomoy’s home course, Cranberry Valley Golf Course in Harwich, Monday’s match at Eastward Ho! provided a sneak peek at what awaits should either the Sharks or Warriors find themselves in the state championship.
“It’s definitely very tough,” said Blute, a Harwich resident, of Eastward Ho! “You have to play it very strategically because there are a lot of tricky shots. It’s very difficult, but we’re really fortunate to play here because it is so beautiful. Not a lot of people — especially high schoolers — get to play here, so it’s really awesome that we get to.”
“It’s very hard,” noted Grogan, another Harwich resident. “The greens are so fast, you have to barely touch it. And then hills — if you don’t know where you’re hitting it, it’s very hard to play good.”
Packett said the Monomoy girls have benefitted from playing at Eastward Ho! — which has opened its course to the team to play a handful of matches — but acknowledged “it can be an adjustment” getting acclimated at different courses after playing Chatham’s crown jewel.
“Going from a place that it’s so difficult and greens are super fast to a course that’s completely flat and greens are slow — the first couple holes are definitely an adjustment period, but it’s nothing crazy,” said Packett, a Harwich resident. “I think it definitely helps us improve our game when we get stuck in tough situations.”
While Blute said she’s seen the team undergo changes during her five years with the program, one thing has remained true throughout her golf career: Monomoy has continuously fielded a strong golf squad.
And this year’s no different, according to the senior.
“I’ve been on the team since eighth grade, so it’s been fun to watch it change every year,” Blute said. “We have a great team this year — we’ve had a great team every year — but being one of the seniors now and seeing all of the younger girls doing so well and playing so well is really cool to watch.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org.