By Josh Thomson
Tappan Zee coach Chip Foley heard it again and again. Other coaches would see the kid who looked like a stranger, learn the name and then cock an eye.
“Everybody would just say, ‘That’s Isaac?’ ”
Isaac Gorenstein sprouted eight inches between the start of his sophomore year and his junior golf season. Although the rapid growth spurt forced the Tappan Zee star to buy a new set of clubs and make more than one adjustment, it had no ill-effects on his golf game. The Journal News Rockland County golfer of the year led the county in scoring and probably consistency, too.
“That was tough, but on the plus side I got to get all new clubs,” joked Gorenstein, who is now 5-foot-11. “I had a really good team behind me with my parents and my swing instructor. I guess it is something that people are used to with teenage boys. It wasn’t too challenging to adjust my swing.”
Gorenstein said the physical growth has helped him add a remarkable 60 yards through his bag. His 220-yard drives now fly 280, and he’s seen a similar impact on yardages with his irons, too.
“I was not very big and I wasn’t a very long hitter,” he said. “It made me understand the importance of having a really good short game and being spot on from 100 yards in. After growing, I’ve attempted to maintain that consistency around the green.”
He certainly has maintained it as a player. Gorenstein led Tappan Zee to a league title and a second-place finish at the Section 1 team tournament. He led the county in scoring differential (4.26), finished second at the county tournament and was one of just three Rockland players to make the cut at sectionals.
“He certainly has had to approach the game in a different manner because when you grow so much, you have to make an adjustment to your game,” Foley said. “I think that’s something he’s going through. When he gets his timing down with his height and weight, I think he’s going to get even better.”
At sectionals, Gorenstein was in line for a score in the mid-70s during that final round at Fenway Golf Club when he and his group hit from the wrong tee box on No. 18. They signed incorrect scorecards before learning of the mistake and all three were disqualified.
“It was pretty disappointing. Then again, it was a great learning experience for me,” he said. “I’m not going to do something like that again.”
As a student who carries a 4.0 GPA, Gorenstein eyes a future as a player at an Ivy League university or on a Division III team at a strong academic school. He has one season of high school golf to play first and no better reason to spur his preparations for it.
“It’s just that extra motivation in the offseason,” Gorenstein said. “Working hard in the gym, practicing every day, eating well and doing what I can to get better — so it won’t come down to the last hole.”
Other members of The Journal News all-county first team:
Brian Bardach, Suffern: The senior is all-county for the fourth straight year and a two-time all-section pick. He finished fifth in the county in scoring differential (5.45), ended up tied for eighth at the county tournament and qualified for sectionals.
Mark Goodall, North Rockland: The junior ranked second in Rockland with a 4.51 scoring differential and averaged a 38.8 overall. The intense competitor qualified for sectionals and finished tied for sixth at the county tournament.
Saish Gopalaswamy, Clarkstown North: This junior served as the Rams’ No. 1 player most of the season, posting a team-best 5.35 differential, good for fourth in the county. His 41.8 scoring average helped Gopalaswamy qualify for sectionals.
Angela Tocco, Tappan Zee: The sophomore continued to prove she could play with the boys. Her 4.62 scoring differential was good for third in the county. She also not only qualified for sectionals, she was Rockland’s highest finisher, tying for 13th.
Glenn Watson, Pearl River: The junior was one of just three Rockland players to make the cut at sectionals. He placed 26th in the field of 62, capping a season in which he led the Pirates in scoring.
Coach of the year
Chip Foley, Tappan Zee: In Foley’s second season, the Dutchmen boasted four of the top seven players in the county based on scoring differential and six Section 1 tournament qualifiers altogether — both the most in Rockland. Not surprisingly, they produced the county’s top finisher at sectionals. They also won Conference 4 to earn one of just four berths in the Section 1 team championship where they were second to Scarsdale.
Liam Foxe, Sr., Albertus Magnus
Luke Grennan, Sr., Tappan Zee
Ciaran Hennessy, Jr., Pearl River
Shkelqim Kukaj, So., Clarkstown North
Frank Lavery, So., Tappan Zee
Sean Lavery, So., Tappan Zee
Dom Greco, So., North Rockland; Chris Klein, Sr., North Rockland; Andrew Ryan, Jr., Nanuet; Austin Shea, Jr., Clarkstown South.