Ten sectional qualifiers, six finalists, one state alternate and four state qualifiers — it was a record week for the Scarsdale boys golf team. And the scary part is this: “All four of them have a shot at winning it,” coach Andy Verboys said of the New York State Championships this weekend.
Impressively, the lone state qualifier not to have made states before, sophomore Charlie Berridge, was Scarsdale’s top place finisher over the two-day 36-hole event at Waccabuc and Fenway. Berridge tied for second with a consistent 75-74-149, five strokes behind Section 1 champion Nathan Han of Somers, who did not compete last year, but won the section and state titles in 2017.
“He was playing great golf last year and that was his first time at sectionals,” Verboys said. “He went in there this year and he was on a mission. He played great golf, steady all-around. Made the turn at Fenway with a 36 and he finished second.”
Senior Andy Fan tied for fifth place with a 152. He made states his first year in Scarsdale as a sophomore, but did not qualify last year. His goal this season was to make it back.
“Andy Fan missed last year, but the year before that he finished 21st and just missed out on being All-State,” Verboys said. “Being chosen as one of the picks for the UPenn golf team in the fall, he wants to put his mark like James [Nicholas] did going up to states before he went to Ivy League golf.”
Fan knew the expectations were high for his final season, but handled the pressure like a pro.
“The fact is a lot of people expected me to come back and today was really tough with the course and the conditions, but I felt like I grinded it out pretty well with an average game and that was enough, so I’m happy,” Fan said.
The key for Fan was not having school to worry about lately with Senior Options starting and having the ability to get out and work on his game every afternoon in the weeks leading up to postseason.
“Last year my schedule was school stuff, the range, homework until 1 o’clock,” Fan said. “Now this year I’ve practiced three or four hours a day. It got me sharper and quicker.”
What Fan truly missed out on last year was the camaraderie of being part of the state team. “I just like the experience of hanging out with eight other guys,” he said. “Last time was a blast and we had a phenomenal time. Golf is cool and all, but I look forward to the off the course things.”
Two-time All-State player Jay Allen, a junior, became a three-time state qualifier by taking seventh with a 153. After a 73 the first day he struggled with an 80 the second day, but played well enough to hold his spot.
Steven Lee became a two-time qualifier as a sophomore with a 156. Lee felt the pressure to repeat as a state qualifier, but all the hard work in the offseason was worth it.
“I’ve definitely picked up a lot of yards,” he said. “I’m hitting it a lot farther this year than last year, but the conditions both days were pretty tough. The greens were running very well and just everything in general was tough.”
Lee was inspired by Fan’s drive to return to states.
“I felt really bad for him seeing him miss out last year,” he said. “He played really great to get there this year. I’m looking forward to seeing how he does up at Cornell. He’s worked really hard on his game and I’m not surprised he pulled through.”
Ben Schwartz, a state qualifier last year as a junior, tied for 10th at 159 and after winning a playoff hole he became the state alternate.
“It was awesome to see Ben, as upset as he was, so happy for the other guys,” Verboys said. “That’s to me the most rewarding part of the hole thing. He honestly was excited for the guys that were going.”
The same thing happened to Josh Goldenberg in 2015. Goldenberg recently graduated after a successful Ivy League career at UPenn. Schwartz will play at Cornell. The two are cousins.
Schwartz will face off against Fan in college, just like classmates Goldenberg and James Nicholas, who wrapped up his Yale career this spring.
“It’s got déjà vu written all over it when Josh went to UPenn, James went to Yale,” Verboys said. “This year I have two powerful seniors going off to college and Josh missed the cut senior year and had a great career at UPenn. Ben just missed the cut and he’s the first alternate and he’s going to Cornell to play.”
Scarsdale has had three players on the state team before, never four, and the Raiders nearly had five of nine. It’s an unprecedented achievement for the section’s most dominant team over the last seven seasons.
“This year compared to two years ago or even last year the state team is getting a whole revamp,” Fan said. “It’s better when there are more Scarsdale kids. We have a record four. It’s unbelievable. Our top six all made it to the second day and of the top five, Ben only missed out by one shot, so I’m really proud of my guys.”
Senior David Umansky, in his second year on the team, made the cut for the second day of sectionals by shooting an 84, while sophomore Charlie Schulhof just missed the cut with an 85.
“Somebody like Charlie Schulhof at the beginning of the year was just worried about making the team and he missed the cut to come back to Fenway by one stroke,” Verboys said. “As a sophomore he gained so much this year and he’s already asking what he can do to get better. We’re going to get into the weight room because he got to sectionals and realized these guys are bigger and stronger. He can play with them and that’s half the battle, the confidence.”
Though conditions weren’t easy over the two days, Verboys likes to see who can survive because you never know what you might see up at Cornell for states.
“As a state coach that’s what we’re looking for,” Verboys said. “We’ve been really successful the last six years up at states because we’ve gone to Fenway as our finals and it’s a very challenging course. What it shows is everybody is going to have a bad hole, so it’s the character and the mental toughness to be able to say it’s one hole and then recover. Some of the kids weren’t able to do that yesterday. One mistake compounded into another mistake and the wheels came off and the scores got real high.”
Scarsdale was not challenged during the regular season or the conference meet, which the team won prior to heading to states.
“It’s almost that we’re competing against ourselves, but we’re rooting for each other,” Verboys said. “There’s competition within the team. We carried 16 on the team and up until the last day we had 11 guys in contention to go to sectionals.”
Following states this weekend, the Raiders will tee off looking for their fifth Section 1 team title in seven years on June 4.
“For us it’s really just another match,” Lee said. “We’re going to have a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to playing with them one more time before the seniors graduate.”