Golfing hasn’t been this fun since finding your dad’s golf clubs and hitting his new Titleists into the woods.
The golf program at Indian River High School has seen resurgence over the past year, and head coach Neil Beahan has more talent than ever under his oversight as Indian River makes a bid at becoming a perennial contender.
On the first day back from Easter break, before dismissing them to individual routines, Beahan addressed his team to see who had practiced on their own.
“How many of you guys had a chance to get out there and play over break?” asked Beahan. All 10 sets of hands went up in the air, signifying that every player on the team had indeed followed their coach’s advice and logged some extra tee time.
“It is really great to see the guys have so much enthusiasm for the sport. It used to be in years past that my golfers wouldn’t pick up a club until the season started. But this year, the guys are playing whenever they can,” said Beahan.
The Indians golf team has moved its base from Cripple Creek golf course to Bear Trap. And the golf program has flourished due to the new opportunities presented by the club. There, the team is able to practice at a professional course with qualified professionals on hand for instruction.
Indian River golfers are permitted to play Bear Trap’s course in the summer and on weekend afternoons — if it isn’t too busy — allowing them to eek out the additional practice they might not ordinarily have.
“Having the kids play here is a homerun. It shows the community that we are willing to support our local high school, and any good will toward the community will lead to future business opportunities,” said Bear Trap head golf pro Dan Elliott.
Now that the team has a sponsor, Indian River’s desire to improve has ignited.
“What’s great about this team is that everyone has been so focused this year, as opposed in years past,” said senior team captain Jordan Hale. “In years past, some guys didn’t dedicate themselves fully to golf, but that isn’t the case this year.”
The team has been so focused that Beahan has had to remind them when it’s time to stop playing.
“Sometimes I have to tell these kids to go home, practice is over. It’s actually a nice problem to have — players that want to practice,” said Beahan.
Practice is essential to any game — especially golf — because there is so much concentration involved. And Beahan has instituted some rather clever drills to help his golfers improve their chipping and putting.
At a recent practice, sophomore Colton Jensen calmly tapped 20 golf balls toward a clearly marked tee in hopes of improving his putting.
“It’s a pretty good drill — especially because this is a weak point in my game,” said Jensen.
Beahan has also instituted a chipping drill in which his golfers improve their accuracy by hitting the ball between marked clubs.
The amount of time the golfers have dedicated to their sport has helped carve out a solid starting lineup for the team. Beahan, for the first time, has a quality starting lineup and very good players behind them, each pushing for playing time.
“To compete in this league you need at least three good golfers, and right now I have five guys who start, as opposed to one or two in years past. But we have some really good young players on our exhibition team who will lead this program in the future,” said Beahan.
In the season opener versus Sussex Central, all five of Indian River’s golfers scored lower than Central’s best, for a landslide win.
For freshmen Tony Scorziello and Paul Silveira, the exhibition team is a great place to learn from a lot of great players and to develop their game.
“It really helps that my cousin Richard (Webster) is on the team. Playing with him will make me a lot better, because it challenges me,” said Scorziello.
Silveira — a first year player — had only had a few lessons prior to the season but has already noticed a difference in his game.
“It helps that I can watch some of the older players and see what they do in certain situations, like judging distances or controlling swings,” said Silveira. “We have also watched some instructional videos which have helped. But the coaches have been the most help. They are always willing to tell us what we are doing wrong and how to correct it”
With only one senior graduating from this year’s squad, Indian River should blossom into a force to reckon with as they return a bunch of great golfers.
“If everyone keeps playing, then they will have an even better core group of guys and be even better next year,” said Hale.