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Mahopac High School Golfer is inspired by relationship to late dad

Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2011 by Marc Weinreich, Mahopac News
Posted May 10, 2011 in the Mahopac News

W
hat has the game of golf meant to you?

My father, Richard, recently passed away and the game of golf has been the game I play to keep him with me because he's the one who got me involved. I still have the first set of clubs he gave me! We used to take family summer vacations to Ocean City, Md. The ladies went to the beach and the guys went golfing.

When did you realize that you're really good?

The first time I played, I hit a great shot and I just thought that if I can repeat this shot again and again, then I will be really good. If Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson can do it, then I think I can do it.

Being a golf player, how do you think the game has changed since you've been a fan?

Golf is no doubt expanding on a global level. Tiger of course has had a huge impact. A South African and an Englishman won the Masters. So they're inspiring others to follow in their footsteps. Donald Trump is expanding his brand of courses into Europe. China is seeing a lot of growth for golfing, too. The biggest change that I can see since I've been a fan is just how global the sport has become, beyond anyone's expectations.

What do you think is a common misconception about the sport?

Golfing is a sport that requires so many factors. There are so many elements. It's not about how tall or short, but about love and passion that can make a person a great player.

How have you improved as a golfer throughout the years?

Coach Fortini taught us course management, knowing how to attack a course and how to hit a ball if it's in a certain position. My putting has improved and my driving has improved. You have to put in a lot of hours on the golf course to see improvement. I remember he once took me aside and told me to cherish all of these moments on the course.

Looking back, is there one moment in particular that really stands out in your mind as your one shining moment?

I remember once hitting an iron shot off the tee. My dad was right next to me. I took out a wedge and hit it right into the hole and gave my dad a high five. I tried to be humble about it, but inside I was so excited to have hit a great shot and to have my dad there to see it. 

What about a personal achievement on the course?

My record is a 35 for nine holes or a 78 for 18 holes, which I hit last December in Ocean City.

Next year, you'll be a senior. Where are you looking for college?

I'm looking around now, but I know I'll be happy wherever I go. I want to study business management. I want to stay close to home, but become my own man. Maybe I'll coach some day and teach the kids the sport like my father taught me. The relationship you build with your father is one of the most important in life.

What have been some cool opportunities that have opened up for you because of golf?

I played at a couple of Met Jr. tournaments in the area, so that exposed me to a different level of competition. I also got to caddy for a pro at Bethpage Black for the New York State Open. It was a great opportunity to see how the pros play and to see their individual work ethics.

What's one course you would love to play?

Augusta or Pebble. But it's so expensive per round!

What's a tip for kids who want to get involved with golf or for older people just starting out?

Whether you're old or young, you got to stick with it when you first start. You have to practice and have that love and passion. When those elements combine, great things happen.

What was your season like last year and what are you most looking forward to for the upcoming season?

Last year we went 12-2, so we had a good overall year. I'm always looking forward to our rivals: Brewster, Carmel and Yorktown. You get that vibe playing Carmel, like you're playing the enemy. But I try to be as classy as possible. We have a lot of young talent on the team, so we have a bright future.

Best golfer ever? Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods?

I love Jack. My dad and I used to debate. When Jack had to make a big putt, he made it. Jack was more of a family man. Tiger spends all of his time practicing, yet Jack is the better player overall. I think Tiger should be held accountable, but I also believe in the power of redemption. He's a terrific athlete and a great model on the course, and you can't take that away from him. From a personal standpoint, he's not as admirable. Jack, however, was at the pinnacle of golfing and a family man.



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