Girls golf made its debut at Scarsdale High School in 2007. No longer would girls play on the boys’ team. That year the Raiders were 3-7 and sent then-freshman Rachel Whitney to the New York State Championships.
Over the years more Raiders qualified for states, though each year it got harder to qualify as the sport moved away from its infancy stages within the section. As a team, however, it was two springs ago that Scarsdale became among the Section 1 elite, taking second in Section 1 as a team. Scarsdale repeated the feat last spring, but this spring broke through to set several program records:
1) Eight sectional qualifiers for the second straight year.
2) Six making it to the second day.
3) A 197 team score. Twice.
4) Third straight league title.
5) Winning the Section 1 team title, therefore sending a team of five to states.
6) Going undefeated at 15-0.
7) Qualifying three individuals to states.
8) Second straight individual Section 1 champion in Kaitlyn Lee.
After a 12-0 regular season in which the Raiders broke 200 three times, the team entered the first day of the Section 1 championships with more on the line than just having individuals qualify for the finals. In addition, the 18-hole event at Centennial also pitted four league champs against each other for the team title. It wasn’t even close as Scarsdale’s pre-selected group of five golfers produced a four-player best score of 317. Runner-up Rye shot 374.
“I think they really developed a true team mentality at the end here and their goal was to try to win the section team title,” coach Barney Foltman said. “They were excited about it. Golf is an individual sport and they went through a little metamorphosis and became a team. I was very proud of them.”
This was the first time the team title was contested in conjunction with sectionals over 18 holes.
“I am so proud of how they performed,” senior Lee said. “Most of them stick with the high school golf playing nine holes the entire season, so to see how they were able to finish strong playing 18 holes on tough, hilly courses says so much about how much girls golf at Scarsdale has grown. I’m really sad to leave, but I’m really excited to see how they can do in the coming years.”
Over the 18 holes on Day One, Lee shot 69, freshman Jacqueline Lu 78, freshman Skye Braun 83, junior Lauren Zou 87, junior Rebecca Maude 89.
“All five girls shot under 90 and Kaitlyn coming up with a 69 was just amazing golf,” Foltman said.
Based on the final results of sectionals, Lee, Lu, Braun, Maude and senior Madhavi Shashank will represent the Raiders at states.
“She was my senior captain and she was in the playoff and she lost a playoff as a sophomore and she was one stroke away last year and I think she can really help us,” Foltman said of Shashank. “She’s worthy of the opportunity of being at the state tournament.”
Leading the way overall for Scarsdale was defending Section 1 champion Lee. After the 18-hole finals at Whippoorwill, Lee was at an even 144. Lee bested runner-up Maya Beasley, an eighth-grader from Croton, by seven strokes.
Lee’s performance was stellar as she is mature and handles stress well on the course. The match was close and after a bogey she made two birdies to give herself some breathing room.
“That kind of helped her out, but she got into a little trouble on the last hole,” Foltman said. “She made a risky move: she took a hybrid and probably went 180 yards to a very small green. She put the ball in the rough, but was able to get the ball up and down. She’s a competitor. She wants to win and she doesn’t want to give anybody an edge.”
Lee won the Con Ed Scholar-Athlete Award, which Foltman called “such a prestigious award.” Over his long career coaching varsity athletics, Foltman has only put up the most worthy of candidates.
“To have Kaitlyn win it was icing on the cake for a great year for her,” he said. “The Con Ed Award isn’t just about the athlete — it’s about the person, it’s about the student, it’s about character and integrity and athletic ability all rolled into one. She has all those aspects to become the perfect package.”
Lee has been All-State all three years, tying for fourth, placing sixth and tying for third. This is the first time she’ll have teammates there with her.
“My goal is to win states this year,” she said. “I came pretty close freshman, sophomore and junior year, so to get this one would be pretty satisfying for me.
“In terms of the team I think we have a shot at winning as a team. Last year I think Carmel won and I think if this team went back and played Carmel I think we would beat them. Scarsdale has a great shot of winning and making history.”
The top 21 advanced to the second day of sectionals, with Maude just hitting the cut of 89. She rebounded to have a spectacular second day to finish tied for ninth with a 174. Maude, Shashank and Lourdes’ Cameron James all shot the same and had a playoff hole to determine the final state qualifier. Maude won with a bogey, with James the alternate.
Foltman was proud to see his players put themselves in a position to make the team, but was nervous as there was no guarantee one of his players would win the playoff.
“Rebecca had a not great drive off the tee,” Foltman said. “She made a wonderful shot from 175 yards out to hit the green. The girl from Lourdes got herself into trouble and Madhavi went into some deep rough and Rebecca was able to get up and down and the other girls took an extra stroke. It was exciting, but they handled it really well. They were supportive of each other and I’m proud that they handled the pressure of their own teammate and someone else really well.”
Maude wasn’t even thinking about states when she finished her round. Then she and Shashank were approached by their coach about the playoff scenario.
“I was really surprised and I guess I was proud of myself,” Maude said. “Considering how I had played after Monday and how I felt last night — worried and stressed among other things — it was good.”
Maude felt more comfortable at Whippoorwill in the finals.
“I came into today thinking it didn’t matter what happened, that making the second round was good enough,” she said. “I had a more loose attitude about it and I wasn’t taking it that seriously, which tends to help me sometimes. I think that was one of the main factors.”
Lu shot a 161 to place fifth and make states on her first try.
“I’m so proud of Jackie,” Foltman said. “She’s had a wonderful year and she is a very accomplished player. Her course management skills are excellent and her technique is excellent and she’s only a freshman. She placed really high against really good competition. I think she’s going to place at states, as well. She has tremendous potential and she, like Kaitlyn, down the line can be a contender.”
Braun was 15th with a 178, Zou 16th with a 181.
“Skye had a tough day today,” Foltman said. “She didn’t play as well as she normally does, but she made All-Section, came in 15th. I think it was a really good learning experience for her. Like Jackie, she has the potential to be a state place-finisher down the line.
“Lauren Zou played very well and has been a tremendous part of our team. Unfortunately I can’t take more than five people to states. She’s a junior and she’ll have some opportunity in the future. She had an amazing year and really showed a lot of progress.”
Getting to the second day was a big achievement for all of the golfers.
“They used every aspect of the game that you want them to use,” Foltman said. “Of course they have great skills in hitting the ball, but Centennial is a tricky golf course. You can go out of bounds very easily. Course management is a big part of their being able to score so well. There were lots of opportunities for them to use a driver, but a lot of them didn’t use the driver because they didn’t want to get into trouble and they were able to put the ball in places where they could get to the green in regulation.”