by Tom Utescher
Although the Chestnut Hill Academy golf team didn’t quite manage to pull out a victory last Tuesday in the final match on its schedule, the Blue Devils still ended their season on an upnote.
Playing at Waynesborough Country Club, where host Malvern Prep is always tough to beat, the Devils came within three strokes of the Friars, falling 240-243 on the nine-hole, par-35 circuit. That score, along with an identical figure at the Merion West course in their previous outing, was the Devils’ best of the 2011 spring campaign.
“We improved over the course of the year, and I was happy to finish off the season playing that well,” said first-year CHA skipper Francis Vaughn, the former longtime coach at the University of Pennsylvania.
CHA had graduated a lot of talent in the three years leading up to 2011, and although there were six seniors on the roster, only four of them were full-time varsity performers last year. The Devils closed out the season with a 2-8 record in the Inter-Ac League, splitting home/away bouts with Germantown Academy and Penn Charter.
In last week’s finale against Malvern, a season personal best was posted by senior Quint Frazier, who led the team with a 38, one stroke ahead of classmate John McNiff.
Fellow upperclassmen Jack Maine and Jack Russell each carded a 40, and the other official scorers were junior Nick McNiff, with a 41, and freshman Jack Grasso, with a 42. Junior John Hass came around in 43 strokes, and senior Ted Dalglish scored a 45. The best round of the match was a 36 by Malvern’s Mike Davis.
“I think the improvements this year were piece-by-piece, if you will,” Vaughn noted. “I tried to get them to work on three facets of the game; physical conditioning, the mental aspects, and then the biomechanics of their swing. In that last area, the main components would be driving the ball well, chipping, short game, and bunker play, and putting.
“We also worked on course management,” he continued, “having them play within their strengths. We weren’t a very good putting team at the beginning of the season, and I think that’s improved significantly. We’ve cut down considerably on the three-putts.”
While a number of players will be lost to graduation, others will be moving up from the successful JV squad, which only lost one match this season.
“The major development,” Vaughn pointed out, “is that our golf season is moving to the fall. From what I understand, we’ll probably pick up some athletes who play other sports in the spring.”
It will also make it easier for CHA and the other Inter-Ac teams to schedule non-league matches, since most schools – including all members of the PIAA – offer golf as a fall sport.