By Mike Zacchio
Golfers are used to playing in crummy weather — rain so heavy that it’s nearly impossible to putt, cold so bitter that it’s nearly impossible to hold a club, humidity so thick that it’s nearly impossible to breathe.
You name it, the most dedicated of golfers have played through it.
The one condition golfers can’t play through is snow. Not a light dusting or a few flurries, but a blanket of powder that shuts down golf courses during the winter. New York City received in excess of 57 inches of snow this season, more than twice the annual average.
The inclement weather left local high school boys and girls golfers with one of two scenarios:
1. Sit and wait for the warmer weather to arrive, or …
2. Seek warmer climates elsewhere.
“It definitely wasn’t ideal for getting ready for spring golf season,” said Tappan Zee junior Isaac Gorenstein, who went to Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., for a week to get some rounds in. “(I played) as much as I could to make up for the snow up here.
“It was great — 80s and sunny.”
Tappan Zee is coming off a county-championship season last year, with Gorenstein and senior Luke Grennan anchoring this year’s squad. Head coach Chip Foley said that Tappan Zee will play cross-over matches with Rye, Scarsdale and Bergen (N.J.) Catholic in an effort to make the team more well-rounded.
“We want to compete against teams with deep rosters; we want to be able to compete Nos. 1-6,” Foley said. “I know my Nos. 1 and 2 guys will throw some numbers up there, but if you’re going to be a really legitimate team, your Nos. 3-4-5-6 guys have to be golfers.”
North Rockland senior Katie Delango also made a trip to the Sunshine State, playing a few rounds near her family’s Port St. Lucie vacation home.
“I hate this weather,” said Delango, who won back-to-back Rockland County titles as a freshman and sophomore before a hip injury caused her to miss all postseason tournaments last year. “It’s not helping any of us. … Even at the range, it’s torture.”
Delango will challenge reigning Section 1 champ Alexis Hios of Rye, with whom she is good friends. The two played at the state championships three years ago and have been friends since.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time working out and practicing as much as possible,” said Hios, who signed in November to play with Towson University next year. “Rye (Golf Club) is in great shape; we’ve been practicing there for about two weeks.”
The usual contenders will anchor the Westchester boys, with Scarsdale and White Plains expected to return strong squads.
Of the 54 golfers to qualify for last year’s Section 1 tournament, more than a dozen hailed from Scarsdale (nine) or White Plains (six). Always a deep team, White Plains lost three key golfers in the offseason, graduating three-time state qualifier Sean Trainor and Tyler Stagg, while losing Stagg’s younger brother, Justin, to Harrison after his family moved.
Boys golf season at a glance
Golfers to watch
Isaac Gorenstein, Tappan Zee: The junior had the team’s best average differential last year and looks poised to make the second round of sectionals for the first time.
Theo Humphrey, Rye Country Day: The Vanderbilt-bound senior will chase an NYSAIS state title after placing second last year.
James Nicholas, Scarsdale: The junior is probably itching to avenge a poor performance at last year’s Section 1 tournament, where he missed the first-round cut as the top seed.
Justin Stagg, Harrison: The junior was expected to lead White Plains, as his brothers Ryan and Tyler did in recent years. A transfer to rival Harrison makes things interesting.
Cameron Young, Fordham Prep: The Ossining resident and Wake Forest commit will look to win his third straight CHSAA individual title this season.
Teams to watch
Iona Prep: The Gaels return five key golfers from last year’s CHSAA-winning team, led by junior Bobby Diforio. Iona Prep has won eight team state championships since 1995.
Tappan Zee: The reigning Rockland County champs lost just two seniors last year and would be favored to repeat.
White Plains: While the losses of two Stagg brothers — Tyler to graduation and Justin to transfer — are significant, the Tigers are incredibly deep and should rebound nicely.
Girls golf season at a glance
Golfers to watch
Katie Delango, North Rockland: Coming off an injury-plagued junior year (hip), the fully rehabilitated, two-time Rockland County champ will be one of the favorites at the county and Section 1 tournaments this season.
Alexis Hios, Rye: The reigning Journal News girls golfer of the year will look to defend her individual Section 1 crown and player of the year title in her senior season.
Frida Henningsson, Rye: Although a junior, Hennigsson has already qualified for the state tournament three times, placing in the top 35 the past two years.
Caroline Hodge, Ursuline: Hodge narrowly missed a trip to states last season as a seventh-grader. The Koalas return a strong core, but Hodge is the future of the program.
Alessandra Ricigliano, Ursuline: The runner-up of the Section 1 tournament, the senior has three top-five finishes at the annual tournament but no titles.
Teams to watch
Rye: The Garnets may have had individual success last year, but it was Ursuline that had the last laugh in the team event. Hios and Henningsson will anchor a strong Rye squad.
Suffern: The Mounties’ dynasty looks poised to six-peat as Rockland County champions with Ashley Robinson and Rachel Ollis anchoring the team.
Ursuline: The Koalas are coming off an exceptional year under Laurie Adamo-Ricigliano, which included an undefeated season, their first Section 1 team championship and three state qualifiers, all of whom return.