Jay Allen was one season shy of capping one of the best golf careers Scarsdale High School has ever seen when he was robbed of his senior season by the COVID-19 pandemic. Steven Lee was on a similar path of greatness when he lost his junior season last spring. And then there was Charlie Schulhof, who ended up with one chance to shine and took full advantage as a senior this spring.

Transitioning from playing lacrosse goalie, Schulhof didn’t make the golf team freshman year in 2018.

“I wasn’t very good, but I enjoyed it,” he said. “I thought it was something I could play for the rest of my life and if I started focusing on it now maybe I could get really good at it. I didn’t really realize how good the Scarsdale team was and how hard it was going to be to make the team. There was a lot of pressure going in and I didn’t make the team because I did awful in the tryout because I was very nervous.”

Sophomore year, when the Raiders were absolutely stacked with four state qualifiers and the state alternate, Schulhof barely made the team, but about a third of the way into the season he found himself getting into enough matches to be among the team’s record 10 sectional qualifiers.

“As I played more and more I did much better and I was in the high 30s, low 40s,” he said. “I seized the opportunity.”

Senior Charlie Berridge remembers how nervous Schulhof was in 2018, but respects his future teammate’s perseverance.

“He loves playing and that’s what we’re looking for, guys who just love the game and he’s certainly one of those guys,” Berridge said. “He played well this year. He was a great leader and very key for us.”

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With the team decimated by graduation the last two years — state qualifiers Allen, Andy Fan and Ben Schwartz among them — the Raiders didn’t know what to expect this season returning state qualifiers Berridge and Lee and a largely unproven team behind them.

While Berridge and Lee maintained their elite play, Schulhof joined the fray as did newcomers Brian Nicholas, a sophomore, and Justin Liu and Sajiv Mehta, both freshmen, and led the Raiders to their sixth Section 1 team championship in eight seasons played from 2013 to 2021. The championship capped off an 18-0 season for the Raiders.

“I was actually very surprised at how great our team did this year,” Schulhof said. “We had a bunch of freshmen and the sophomore step up and it was very cool to find we had great new players. Normally a golf team has one or two good players, but at Scarsdale we always have eight to 10. We had nine in sectionals.”

Schulhof put in the work to reach the pinnacle of high school team golf, improving his mental game most of all.

“I feel like I’ve always been able to compete in other sports, but what I found difficult was the mental aspect of golf,” Schulhof said. “No one is there to bail you out. You control your destiny. I definitely had a bunch of matches where I struggled mentally and I wasn’t able to do well because I was so concerned about what other people were thinking about me, with other people watching. Once I realized I’m doing this for myself and I should be caring about a result that makes me happy and helps the team I started to play much better.”

Schulhof shot a 40 as Scarsdale beat runner-up John Jay-Cross River 192-200 in the team finals at Fenway on June 9.

“Charlie every year grew so much,” coach Andy Verboys said. “He transformed himself. He was a scrawny little kid and by the time he was a senior it was like, ‘Wow, look how big and strong he got.’ Even his demeanor and confidence on the golf course every year grew and grew and to have him play so well in a match like that is awesome.”

While Schulhof never regretted giving up lacrosse, winning a title certainly made it easier to see his former team win its first-ever Section 1 title in double overtime against Mamaroneck over the weekend.

“That was amazing,” Schulhof said. “Props to them for doing that. That was one of the biggest victories in our school history.”

While the lacrosse team looks to build a dynasty, the golf team continues to dominate in Section 1. A team champion has been crowned 15 times since it was instituted in 2006. The Raiders made the finals 2008-10, won in 2013 and 2014, lost a rain-shortened five-hole conference match in 2015 and won in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. Appearing in the finals nine times and winning six titles is a remarkable feat.

Berridge, who was All-State as a sophomore, led the Raiders to the title with a 32 at Fenway on Wednesday, June 9. Lee, a two-time state qualifier as an underclassman, shot 36, Schulhof 40, Nicholas 40, Liu 44, Mehta 44.

“We’ve had a few really close matches this year, which we weren’t really used to,” Lee said. “We were struggling a little bit during the regular season. We would pretty consistently break 200 during my freshman and sophomore years, but this year the first time we broke 200 was team sectionals. Coach Verboys pulled us aside beforehand and gave us a little pep talk and he was like, ‘I’m not taking this plaque out of my car and handing it to another team.’ We all knew how important it was not only for us, but for him as well. We all showed up and played really well.”

Often this season it was the younger players and some of the other veterans getting in matches and the more seasoned veterans only playing in the matches as a way to test the team, so Verboys thinks the championship team only played together once in the regular season, when they tied Bronxville 202-202, winning the match on the sixth score. Sectionals was the first time the team broke 200.

“That was the capper of the season,” Verboys said. “To have them perform on a great stage like Fenway, where we haven’t been much this year, and to turn around to have those kids shoot what they shot under that kind of pressure by themselves in groups of four with the other three teams, that’s the kind of match that sets us apart. We had three older kids and three younger kids and they now know they have to carry us next year and then we fill in the rest and stay where we have been.”

“We put up that score in the most important match of the year,” Berridge said with pride.

Verboys credited his seniors for taking the lead in seeing the rest of the roster had the same kind of “moxie” they did.

“Charlie, Steven and Charlie told me we had to put them into the fire and get them playing in matches,” Verboys said. “Those kids played 11 matches, where those other three only played seven matches. They didn’t carry those guys like happened in the past. They had to sink or swim and we still went undefeated.”

The Raiders also got in-season contributions from seniors Archie Fanning and Leo Rosenstadt. “These kids stepped up and they performed,” Verboys said.

Junior Ryan Gerson, who will be the most experienced senior returning next year, also made a name for himself.

“He’s my senior captain next year and he wants to keep the tradition going,” Verboys said. “From the beginning to the end he grew leaps and bounds, not only in his leadership, but in his determination to keep Scarsdale at the top. He was amazing to watch. The passing of the torch from Charlie and Steven to Ryan was awesome this year. Ryan is going to be involved in tournaments this summer and he’ll do a great job next year getting the kids ready to go.”

With four experienced players returning, all of whom should be in the hunt for states, Lee is excited about the future of the program with hopes of extending the four-season team title streak to five and counting.

“I feel really confident leaving the program,” Lee said. “The younger guys showed up in a lot of matches this year. During the regular season I didn’t play great. I was still sort of coming out of the winter a bit slow and they really picked up my slack. I’m not worried at all about the future of the team.”

Though it was announced early in the pandemic, Verboys was named the New York State Public High School Athletic Association National Federation High School boys golf Coach of the Year for 2019-20.

“Shoutout to Coach Verboys,” Schulhof said. “He’s known for being the football coach, but he’s a great golf coach who does so much for this team and the camaraderie. I think he’s the best.”

Added Lee, “I’ve never really been on a team before, but I can say he was the best coach he could be. Everything he did was always motivating, but he put his foot down when he needed to. He was just a great coach.”

Verboys, with his experience in football and golf, is constantly getting compliments about both teams featuring “fierce competitors who are still best friends.”

“We build that,” he said. “We have them in the weight room training together and on the course and they push each other there to get the best out of each other. This year we were going in with two studs coming back and no idea what else because I didn’t see anybody last year. It’s been two years since I’ve seen anybody and I thought we were going to take a huge drop and we didn’t.”

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Individual sectionals

On Monday and Tuesday prior to team sectionals, individual sectionals didn’t go as smoothly as the team event, though the Raiders were extremely well represented. The Raiders had 9 of the 37 qualifiers the first day and 5 of the 20 who advanced, which Verboys called “mind-boggling” since the team’s record is 10 qualifiers in a field of 60 in a normal year. “Ratio-wise that’s pretty impressive,” Verboys said.

Though the field was smaller, it was still supposed to be a traditional 36-hole, two-day tournament. Mother Nature had other plans Monday, June 7, as heat and rain shortened the day to nine holes at Westchester Country Club. Since half the field played the front nine, half the back nine, the scores didn’t carry over to the second day, so the final player who made the cut for the second day ended up winning the title with a 75 at Wykagyl, while the leader of the first day, Berridge, had his opening 35 tossed.

“It definitely wasn’t ideal for me,” Berridge said. “I went out there the first day and was hitting the ball great. I hit nine green shots, 1-under 35, and then to have that score just thrown out I knew I had to come out the next day and really shoot a good score. Unfortunately I was not doing my best with a little sickness running through me. It was tough to know the first day wasn’t going to count at all. It’s still tough for me.”

Verboys said the field wasn’t “weeded out” like a normal year. “That’s why we set it up 18 at Westchester and 18 at Wykagyl and that’s how we get our top guys going to states,” he said. “But we’re just fortunate we got everything in and we can say we tried to do our best to give the kids the best experience possible in difficult times.”

Berridge, who came in ranked No. 1 based on the regular season, went on to tie for fourth with an 80. By being in the top nine, he would have qualified for states if states were being held this year.

“He was playing lights out at Westchester and normally there’s the carryover to the finals and it didn’t work out that way because it would have been too hard to carry over differential,” Verboys said, noting he could tell Berridge wasn’t feel well the second day, though Berridge said nothing to him about it and plowed through the course. “He was upset because obviously he was the clear favorite, the No. 1 kid in the section all season with a .01 or whatever differential — it was ridiculously low — he was No. 1 going into the finals at his home course, where he was the club champion.”

Liu would have taken the final state spot with an 84, while four players, including Lee and Nicholas, tied for 10th and would have had a playoff for the state alternate spot. Mehta was 17th with an 89.

Not making the cut for the finals, Gerson tied for 24th, Fanning and Rosenstadt tied for 26th, and Schulhof was 34th based on differential and slope.

“I’m not going to say we played well in sectionals,” Berridge said. “Everyone kind of left something out there, which is not a great feeling, but we all came back the next day at team sectionals and stepped up.”

Berridge will play at Cal Berkeley next school year, while Lee will take a gap year to do some internships in finance and work on his game before heading to UPenn.

Berridge will take his ice hockey and golf mentality to the next level, where he will be able to focus solely on golf athletically. In addition, he knows the team concept for college was started in high school.

“The combination of hockey and golf has helped me become mentally tough on the golf course,” he said. “Hockey, much more than people think, is a very mental sport. You have to go off the ice after a bad shift and then to go out two minutes later and correct all your mistakes. That’s helped me become more mentally tough and that’s one of my strengths on the golf course, that I’m able to stay in the zone and stay calm even when bad things happen.”

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