The Boys' Latin Golf Team

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2009 Match Summaries

Boys’ Latin vs Archbishop Curley

Due to ongoing scheduling conflicts throughout the season, Archbishop Curley forfeited the match.

Final Score:  Boys’ Latin 21  /  Archbishop Curley 0


Boys' Latin vs Mount Saint Joseph
May 7, 2009

Boys' Latin played host to 5th-ranked Mt. St. Joseph - and in a contest that would be their last of the season, the Lakers gave their all against the purple-and-black clad Gaels.

Determined to offer their best against St. Joe, the Laker squad rallied from an early deficit to close the first half within a split point of their opposition.

Junior Ben Whitman won the front side one-up; and in bursting from his late-season slump fired one-over-par on the day en route to collecting two-and-a-half points in his match.

Whitman's fellow teammates A.J. Billig and Drew White served-up two remarkable come-from-behind efforts. 

Billig had been one down with three holes to play before digging deep to notch wins in two of the final three holes.  His up and down for the win on the forth hole combined with an approach shot that stopped a foot from the hole for birdie on the fifth.  Billig would par the final hole and win his front side one-up. 

White also found himself behind in the count.  Sitting two down with two to play, White re-focused and won the final two holes - a rally punctuated by a 35 foot par putt that fell on the final hole and halved the match's front side.

Not to be outdone, Junior Neill Peck grinded through a tough front-side loss to split his match's back half.  Fully committed and focused, Peck plodded his way through the afternoon and when the final putt fell on the last green, he had fully earned his split point.

The Lakers stood a half point behind their competition heading into the second side.  The close race lit a fire under their competition however, and the Gaels surged into the close.  Boys' Latin refused to fade, however - and stood firm, shot for shot, with Mount Saint Joseph well into the final holes.  At day's end though, it would indeed be a well-earned victory for the opposition.

The Lakers end their season with a record of five and seven; which ties them for the final slot in the MIAA Playoffs with Saints Peter & Paul.  Guidelines for tie-breakers state that the head-to-head results dictate who advances.  Unfortunatley for Boys' Latin, that gives the nod to Peter & Paul - given the squad's upset of the Lakers on May 1st.

The Lakers close the books on the 2009 MIAA Golf Season with their best record since joining the ranks of the A Conference; and countless memories of good times and great golf to propell them into the time ahead.

Everyone returns in 2010 - a reality about which the team and its coaches are quite enthusiastic. 

Final Score:  Boys' Latin: 4.5  /  Mount Saint Joseph:  16.5

Boys' Latin vs McDonogh
May 6, 2009

The Lakers traveled to Woodholme Country Club to face-off against 4th-ranked McDonogh.  In an afternoon that produced continued cloud-cover and rain-fall, Boys' Latin battled a tough opponent on one of the conference's most challenging golf courses.

Woodholme combines classic styling with dramatic slopes and angles.  Always in pristine condition, the course boasts quick greens and well-manicured fairways.

Having returned to the line-up, Junior Ben Whitman made an admirable charge in his match.  Winning the front side and total match, he collected the only full points for the Lakers.  Whitman's partner, Will Guy, halved the match's back side and in doing so split his point accordingly.

The remainder of the Laker squad were unable to gather any additional points and found themselves swept by the 8-1 McDonogh squad.  Unable to conjure their A-games for the remainder of the afternoon, Boys' Latin team members failed to rally into the close as has been their trademark in 2009.  One notable exception however, was Junior Neill Peck - who, after struggling early, failed to record anything greater than a bogey for the remainder of his match.

The Lakers move to 4-6 with their loss to McDonogh; and following a post-match team discussion in the bus that evening, remain hungry and ready for the remaining matches.

Final Score:  Boys' Latin: 2.5  /  McDonogh:  18.5

Boys' Latin vs Loyola
May 5, 2009

Clouds blanketed the afternoon sky as Boys' Latin welcomed Loyola for the ninth match of the season.  Loyola, fresh off a strong showing in the Individual Championship, entered the day with a strong position in the conference standings and a hunger to expand on their already impressive 8-2 record.  The Lakers, 4-4 on the season, held home course advantage as well as a firm intention to give their all against the conference stalwart.

Sidelined with a one-game suspension for unbecoming conduct, Ben Whitman took to the sidelines for the match's duration.  As per conference guidelines, his slot was filled by moving all players beneath him upward in the roster and inserting a new player in the #6 spot.  That player was Sam Dunbar; and as next-man-up, the Laker Junior seized the opportunity to showcase an excellent day of ball-striking.

Via the new line-up, players found themselves with fresh pairings and partnerships.  A.J. Billig moved into the #2 slot and paired with Will Guy for the afternoon's contest.  Billig's traditional partner, Matt Sherman, paired with Drew White; and Neill Peck partnered with Sam Dunbar.

Sherman's front side would find the Laker Team Captain collecting the only full point for Boys' Latin.  His one-up victory was sealed on the half's final hole when his tee shot on the par three found the green's center.  Sherman maintained his poise throughout the day and battled to the end against his opponent.

Will Guy, the calm and collected Laker Freshman, was pitted against a firey and long-hitting opponent whose over-all game and demeanor bore resemblance to that of Sergio Garcia - powerful, aggressive, and outwardly expressive.  Guy would lose the first four holes to his opponent - and invariably the match's front side - before being reminded that it was his own game that should receive his attention.  Newly focused and determined, Guy battled back and won four of the next six holes - eventually pulling even with his competitor.  And when his birdie putt fell from 45 feet on the final hole, Will Guy had matched his opponent for the match's second side.  It was a rally for all rallies - and one that was anchored in personal triumph for having remained true to one's self.
Drew White, the human highlight reel, produced two of the season's finest shots.  The Laker Junior nearly holed out on the 4th hole - his shot from 96 yards coming to rest within two feet of the hole.  And again at the 11th hole, his approach shot from 156 yards landed and stopped no more than one foot from the cup.  Near hole-outs and aces are becoming commonplace for the Laker known as "Kong" - and White continues to stand as one of the more explosive, and therefore exciting players on the Boys' Latin squad.

As the clouds turned dark and the rain drops began to fall, one Laker after another staged a rally into the match's close.  Heavy steps were forged through Suburban's fairways as each Boys' Latin teammate wiped the water from their hats and plodded through the swampy linksland - refusing in their own dogged resolve to give anything other than their absolute best.  Shot after shot, putt after putt, they made their move and staged their rally.  In the end, they would fall short of securing a win - but victory was theirs nonetheless for having stood tall in the face of challenge and adversity.  Their collective integrity and their contagious passion for excellence continues to produce memorable moments, critical developments, and most of all, strong individual character.

Final Score:  Boys' Latin: 1.5  /  Loyola: 19.5

Boys' Latin vs Saints Peter & Paul

May 1, 2009

With the momentum of their victory against John Carroll propelling them, The Lakers traveled to Maryland' Eastern Shote to tackle Hunter's Oak Golf Club and take on Saints Peter & Paul.

Struggling through most of the '09 season, Peter & Paul found themselves two slots lower in conference ranking than the Lakers.  At 2 & 7, they were under-dogs to the Lakers' 4-3 record and eight seed standing.  Nonetheless, Peter & Paul were known to be tough and to have sizable talent.  Compounded with the reality that Hunter's Oak is one of the more unique layouts in the conference, and the Boys' Latin team knew that it had its hands full if it were to extend its winning streak.

Hunter's Oak is designed as an authentic Scottish Highland course - rolling fairways fall against a backdrop of moguls and tall grass.  Directional stakes are placed throughout the course - not only to point golfers in the proper direction, but to keep them on the hole being played.  Greens can be wide at the base and narrow in the neck.  Blind tee shots can be followed by blind approaches.  Hazards can be unapparent from one angle and every-present from another.  To say that Peter & Paul have the most sizable home-course advantage in the conference would be a remarkable understatement.

The Eastern Shore squad would leverage that advantage and hold the Lakers at a deficit throughout the day.  With rallying calls positioned and best-efforts anchored, the Lakers did their best to crawl back into contention - highlighted by Matt Sherman's holed shot for eagle from 130 yards on the par-five ninth hole.  Sherman's short iron carried a water hazard, cleared a bunker and landed on the green's front edge before releasing toward the hole and disappearing into the cup.  Sherman raised his hands in victory and the applause that followed resonated across the groups ahead of and behind the Laker Team Captain.  Sherman's rally found him splitting the full match - and in doing so he collected half points for the front, back and total matches.

Will Guy extended his excellent play, once again in the number one slot for Boys' Latin.  The freshman once again fought his way through a round against the conference's stiffest competition and swept his opponent for the match's front, back and total points.

After halving the front side, Junior Neill Peck won the back and total sides for the Lakers.  The first-year team member continued to impress via excellent ball-striking and short-game prowess.

Though the rally call was fierce, the Lakers' hard-fought efforts would fall short against Peter & Paul.  At day's end, they had been upset - and the long faces that were worn on the players' faces reflected the afternoon's disappointment.

But in the loss, the Team learned that the truest victory resides in giving one's all.  If at the end of the day, a win was not secured from one's best efforts - no real loss was realized.  The Lakers remained proud for having given their all - and continue to afix their sights on the matches to come.

Final Score:  Boys' Latin: 8.5  /  Saints Peter & Paul:  12.5

Boys Latin vs John Carroll
April 29, 2009

The Lakers traveled to Bel Air, Maryland to face-off against John Carroll in what proved to be a barn-burner of a competition across the venerable links of Maryland Golf & Country Club.

The past few years have found John Carroll realizing a similar rise toward prominence as Boys' Latin.  Seasons ago, it sat on the unfortunate end of regular lop-sided scoring; but through discipline and focus, John Carroll has constructed a more than respectable squad of competitors.  Firey and hungry to taste victory, John Carroll rarely comes out of the corner without swinging.  And in it's match against Boys' Latin, the hit-em-early & hit-em-hard strategy looked poised to pay-off.

The Lakers fell victim to an early deficit against John Carroll.  Through the first half of the match's front side, Boys' Latin was behind in most matches.  However the Lakers, who are now known for their late-inning rallies, staged a fierce rebound in four of six matches in order to split the contest's front half. 

The momentum of that rally would fade however, and Boys' Latin would drift into yet another deficit into the match's second side.  But true to form, mentalities were refocused and sights transfixed on the task at hand - and the Lakers once again overcame their shortfall by charging into the match's close.

Will Guy continued his fine play - this time in the team's number one position - and swept his opponent three ways, while combining to win the team point with partner, Ben Whitman.  Whitman, facing a challenging day of ball-striking, would dig deep and work his way to notching a half point for splitting his match's second half.

Matt Sherman and Drew White collected two and a half points between them after grinding their way through challenging back-and-forth standings against their opponents.  White nearly aced the par three third hole - his shot skimming the cup's edge before coming to rest eight inches away.  Sherman paired with partner AJ Billig and collected a much-needed team point at day's end.

Billig came into the final hole needing a three on the mid-length par three.  The Laker Junior launched an iron shot that never left the line of the flag - and came to rest fifteen feet away.  Cheers were heard from his teammates - and the ensuing par that Billig would record secured a guaranteed halve for the total match.

Then it was up to the final match on the course.  Junior Neill Peck would face the same par three in need of a win to secure the Team's victory.  Knowing what was at stake, Peck remained true to his routine - and struck a mid-iron shot that bored a hole through the humidity and the moment's pressure, before finding the center of the green and the flagstick twenty-five feet away.  After his opponent's shot failed to find the green, Peck calmly rolled his putt toward victory - and notched a much-needed win for his Team in doing so.

At day's end, the Lakers overcame multiple deficits and pressure-laden situations in order to topple John Carroll and record their season's fourth win.  In doing so they learned lessons of patience, focus and teamwork - and positioned themselves well for the days ahead.

Final Score:  Boys' Latin:  11.5  /  John Carroll:  9.5 

Boys' Latin vs Archbishop Spalding
April 24, 2009

Winston Churchill once wrote "Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."  A more applicable statement could not be found to describe the Boys' Latin Golf Team at their finest.  When the tide rips them against the rocks, they often pry themselves away and forge on against the current.  When knocked down by a heavy blow, they typically dig deep to rise again.  When told they can't, they frequently do anyway.

Against Archbishop Spalding at Chartwell Golf & Country Club however, the frequent fight that had been the rally call of the Lakers this season failed to materialize.

An equal match on paper, Spalding and Boys' Latin had similar statistical records and players of equal scoring averages.  The Lakers had momentum on their side, having won their prior three consecutive matches and Spalding had home course advantage - a benefit that aided in squaring the intangibles prior to the match's inception.  Boys' Latin knew that a victory was both possible and necessary in order to continue their success; and arrived prepared to face the Spalding squad.

Fully assembled, Archbishop Spalding represents the consummate squad of spit-fire grinders.  Rarely motivating drives a sizable distance, and frequently facing long iron shots into relatively short holes, they leave an early impression of lacking strength for their loss of size.  But as one learns rather quickly, such an impression would be equally false and foolish.  Each Spalding starter waives the wand of short game wizardry.  With chipping and putting as their allies, the squad members anchor pars with seemingly effortless ease - and in doing so, more than offset their lack of distance from the teeing ground.  In the mind of many golfers, and certainly those of the teenage competitor, there is rarely anything more frustrating.  Falling to Spalding is like dying of a thousand cuts - a slow bleed to an ultimate death born from the sword of an every-steady short game.

The Lakers produced their weakest greeside showing of the season - and as bladed bump-and-runs mixed with sailed greens and random three-putts, Boys' Latin found itself mired in a deficit from which they would not rally.  Spalding's lead was established on the first hole and would not be relinquished, nor challenged throughout the day.  With heads hung low and shoulders heavy with the world's weight, the Lakers found themselves at a psychological disadvantage with each up-and-down recovery executed by their opponent.

Periodic exceptions did present themselves, and are worthy of note.

Junior Matt Sherman, whether facing a putt for birdie of a chip for triple bogey, demonstrated his fullest intention for the shot's purpose.  Though Sherman would fall to his opponent on all fronts, his efforts were his best and his never-say-die mentality was never shaken. 

Freshman Will Guy, continuing in his rookie-of-the-year performance, halved the match's front side before notching victory for the second half and total.  Guy's two-and-a-half points would be the lion's share of the Lakers' total for the day.  Guy's peaceful on-course presence and firm determination continues to serve as a positive example for his teammates.

Junior AJ Billig collected a half point in splitting the match's back side with his opponent.  This shared-point was produced after a strong run into the finish for Billig, who had otherwise fallen short in his bid to out-duel his scrambling counterpart for the front side and total.

It is worth noting that though their showing against Archbishop Spalding was easily their weakest of the season, the Lakers competed as gentlemen.  No expletives were uttered.  No clubs were tossed.  No tantrums were displayed.  Frustration was contained and respect was extended.  In the ever-firey world of adolescent competition, the Lakers stand as gentlemen.

At day's end, the coaches challenged their team's on-course attitude of self-doubt and angst.  They reminded the players of their ability to rally and the strength in their collective identity.  They talked of mentality, courage and fortitude.  They explained the need for dogged discipline - and placed before team members the evidence of short game's importance, as displayed by the day's competition

The team absorbed the day's lessons; and stands ready for the time ahead.  Newly humbled and once again hungy, they once again wear expressions of gentlemen warriors.

Final Score:  Boys' Latin: 3  /  Archbishop Spalding:  18

Boys' Latin vs Annapolis Arean Christian School
April 21, 2009

Boys' Latin hosted Annapolis Area Christian School at The Suburban Club for the fifth match of the season - and though weather patterns reflected sizable changes, transitioning from first tee warmth and sunshine to thunderstorms by day's end, the Lakers offered up remarkable consistency of ball-striking and course management. 

Propelled by the momentum of consecutive victories against St. Mary's and St. Paul's, the Lakers faced off against relative conference newcomer, AACS.  A second-year A-Conference squad, AACS had won the B-Conference Championship two seasons ago before moving up to the higher bracket.  AACS knew how to win, and had done so previously.  Though the Lakers had notched victory against them last season, Boys' Latin maintained a "never underestimate your opponent" mentality heading into the competition.

That thought process proved valuable for Boys' Latin.  Focused and determined, they plodded their way across the links of Suburban once again - playing with dogged intention and precision.  All shots were thought-out before executed.  All efforts were fully-fueled with purpose.  And at day's end, the Lakers had secured their third straight victory - rising to a record of 3-2 while moving up the conference standings with a sizable 20-1 defeat of Annapolis Area Christian School.

Stories of the day belonged to Juniors Drew White and A.J. Billig. 

White, a first-year team member and competitive golfer for all of 60 days, played the match's front half in no more than two over par - including a birdie at the par four fifth hole.  The Laker known as "Kong", who held a scoring average of one-hundred upon joining the Team in March, played his way around in single-digit handicap fashion; and in doing so, handily defeated his opponent for a full sweep of the match's front, back and total points. 

Billig, struggling early with his driver, was eight over par through the first five holes.  Then, after reaching for hybrids and three woods for most of the remaining tee shots, he played the rest of the round in one under par.  Highlights of the round include two birdies, including one on the final hole that secured victory against his opponent.  As well, Billig made par on the challenging ninth hole, a long par five.  After pull-hooking his drive into the trees, he was forced to pitch to the fairway and leave himself with two hundred thirty yards to the green.  The resulting shot was struck perfectly, and not only found the green, but came to rest fifteen feet from the hole.  It was a putt Billig would make - en route to collecting a full three points from his opponent.

Not to be outdone, Juniors Matt Sherman and Ben Whitman, as well as Freshman WIll Guy continued their excellent play and managed full sweeps of their opponents - winning the front, back and total matches as well as team points.  Entering the final hole of the match's front side, Whitman and Guy each near-perfect shots into the par three's well-guarded green.  Guy's would come to rest three feet from the hole; Whitman's no more than six feet.  Each would go on to close out their opponents early.  Sherman, a Junior and the 2009 Team Captain, continued to wield a hot putter - and made lengthy putts throughout the day in his collection of points.

After a one-down loss on the front side, Junior Neill Peck once again found himself re-focused and determined for the second half.  Never one to back down, Peck staged one of his now famous rallies and turned his match around entirely.  In winning the back side and total match, Peck notched two points - both coming in the final minutes as thunderstorms announced their presence as clearly as did the Laker Iceman.  Peck's brillance in the second half was highlighted by consistency.  Well-executed shot-making and methodical course management surrounded his come-from-behind victory; and further secured the first-year starter's reputation as the consumate grinder.

With three-straight victories now fueling their competitive fire, The Lakers remains intent on offering their best efforts and fullest intention in the time ahead.  The days to come and the matches that remain continue to offer great promise for the gentlemen warriors of Boys' Latin.

Final Score:  Boys' Latin: 20  /  Annapolis Area Christian School: 1

Boys' Latin vs St. Paul's

April 17, 2009

The Lakers traveled to Baltimore Country Club and faced-off against the Crusaders of The St. Paul's School in what certainly proved to be one of the most memorable matches of all time for the Boys' Latin Team.  St. Paul's has long been the legacy squad of the conference, standing as the MIAA equivalent of the New York Yankees - an established team with a storied history and a vast trophy case.  They have long been a perennial playoff contender and many years ago anchored their reputation as the venerable and consumate powerhouse team of the league.

The Lakers, fresh off their win against St. Mary's, knew they would need ever bit of their newly-anchored momentum to carry them through the day.  After falling to St. Paul's every year since joining the A Conference, and after collecting no more than seven points against them in any of the last five years, the Lakers had little leverage from their past showings against the stalwart Crusader line-up. 

But they did have heart.  And they did have discipline.  And they did have a never-say-die attitude that failed to let them accept defeat after completing the match's first half trailing their conference rival.  And when the dust settled on the match's back side, Boys' Latin had completed one of the most remarkable turn-arounds in snatching victory from the hands of their opponent.

Junior and top-ranked Laker Ben Whitman lost the first four holes en route to an early defeat against his St. Paul's opponent.  Whitman had snapped his driver with the force of his downswing on the eleventh hole against St. Mary's the day prior; and entered the St. Paul's match with a fresh big stick which failed to suit his game as well as his now severed old faithful.  After regrouping on the first hole of the second side, Whitman put away the new driver, opting to negotiate the remainder of the course with his three wood - and in doing so, played his way back into contention - winning the match's back half for a much-needed point.  Whitman's rally aided in securing the team point with partner Will Guy.

Guy, a Freshman and first-year starter, continued his point-gathering mission - and swept his opponent after playing the front side at even par.  With his victory, Guy managed to notch eleven and a half of twelve possible points thus far this season - sweeping his high-ranking opponents at Gilman, St. Mary's and St. Paul's.  Only Calvert Hall had been able to steal a half point from the fast-rising star of the Laker squad.  Nothing similar to Guy's rapid start has yet been seen at Boys' Latin - let alone against as strong of an opening schedule as the Lakers have seen this season.  Against St. Paul's, Guy was once again at-peace with himself, his game, his strengths and his disciplines.  Peering through his wrap-around Oakley sunglasses and walking the fairways with a heavy stride, the Freshman exhibits a quiet strength rarely identified with a first-year starter.  And on this day, as on the others that preceeded it, he leveraged that strength to vault the Lakers toward victory.

Junior A.J. Billig held a one-up lead heading into the final hole of the match's front side; but a wayward approach and a misguided lag putt betrayed his intention of securing a full point.  Nonetheless, Billig's split point on the match's front side was enough to keep the Lakers within striking distance on the match's second half.  Billig paired with fellow Junior and Team Captain Matt Sherman in winning the team point two-and-one - and in anchoring another clutch point for the rallying squad.

Sherman, continuing in his overly-analytical methodology of shot-making and course-management, staged one of the day's finest performances.  Finding fairway after fairway and green after green, Sherman married tee-to-green consistency with a newly-hot putter en route to his finest competitive showing to-date as a Laker.  His front nine score of thirty-nine tied his lowest ever - and went in the Laker Golf record books as the lowest score for a number-four ranked starter.  Sherman, the Team Captain, was praised by his teammate Billig throughout and after the match.  "He's the perfect captain, and the best teammate I could imagine," Billig said. "He keeps me focused and energized, and he hits amazing shots."  Billig no doubt speaks for the entire Laker squad with comments such as those.  Sherman won the match's front side two-up and went on to expand his lead in the second half.  At day's end, he had collected a full three points for his efforts.

After making par at the first, Junior Neill Peck's consistent ball-striking and greenside touch deserted him for the front half.  Falling two-down to his opponent by the turn, Peck was frustrated for the realities of his standing.  Undaunted however, Peck dug deep - unwilling to accept defeat without a fight - and grinded his way through the second half.  With new-found focus and dogged determination, Peck won the first hole

of the back side, then the second, then the fourth after losing the third.  He entered the second-to-last-hole two-up on the back side and all square on the over-all match.  "Iceman" had officially plowed his way back into contention - and the reigns that were firmly in his grasp would not be released.  He would go on to win both the back and total matches, after an amazing showing on the final hole - a long par five guarded by water, sand and trees.  Peck's drive split the fairway and after a recovery from a miss-hit approach sailed the green, the first-year squad member found himself facing a down-hill pitch shot from the tall grass to a green guarded long by a water hazard.  With steely determination, Peck played an explosion shot that a hoisted a mass of dirt and dormant grass as well as the golf ball - in execution of a perfect shot that landed on the fringe before rolling to within fifteen feet of the cup.  Neil Peck, the Iceman, had successfully rallied from a two-down position to win the back and total points for the Lakers.

Peck's partner, Drew White, also faced tough times on the front side - falling four-down to a Crusader with a soft driver and a hot putter.  It was a classic clash of styles.  The long-hitting Laker, dubbed "Kong" for his burly on-course mannerisms, bombed drives that at times flew ninety yards past his opponent.  Nevertheless, the first year Laker learned that length was secondary to scoring - and watched his opponent negotiate hole after hole by bunting drives, motivating approah shots to the fringe, and two-putting for par.  White's approaches were less consistent and his putter less efficient - and in expressing discouragement to his teammate Peck was over-hear to have said "This guy is driving me crazy.  I hit it a mile past him and he still beats me."  Always a quick study, White digested the lesson and dedicated his efforts on the match's second half to effective course management.  Opting for three wood rather than driver, White increased his fairways hit; and selecting punch shots rather than full swings for approaches, he improved his greens in regulation.  His putter stable and his confidence restored, White too found himself rallying into the match's close.  In doing so, Drew White did the unthinkable - he transformed a four-down deficit into an all-square match, with a one-up lead on the back side heading into the final hole.  And the completion of that hole once again found "Kong" with a lower score than his opponent - the long-hitting bomber turned thinking-man's shotmaker had won the back side and total matches - the final points that would secure his team's victory for the day.

Boys' Latin had, for the first time ever, defeated the mighty St. Paul's.  It was a win that was celebrated in the bus ride home - and one that will not dout be remembered and discussed for years to come.  The victory marked a milestone for the Laker Golf Team - an accomplishment that was anchored in discipline, integrity and intention.  The gentlemen warriors of Boys' Latin had achieved for their efforts - though, as they were well aware, the truest achievement was in the effort itself.

Final Score:  Boys' Latin: 12.5  /  St. Paul's: 8.5

Boys' Latin vs. St. Mary's
April 16, 2009

Following two days where rain washed-out scheduled matches against Archbishop Curley and St. Paul's, the Lakers were hungry for competition when Mother Nature finally offered-up a day of sun and reasonable temperatures.  Boys' Latin hosted St. Mary's at The Suburban Club for their third match of the season - and as members of the Laker squad stood on the first tee, it was evident in their eyes that they were ready for a spirited day on the links. 

Coaches had counseled players regarding their hunger for competition - reminding them that unlike other sports, golf did not permit them to take the fire in their belly and the anxious nature of their excitability and vent it by physically tackling their opponent.  Instead, they had to breathe through the anticipation - remaining balanced and utilizing their ferver to fuel clear, concise, thought and action.

Nonetheless, the foaming-at-the-mouth mentality led four of six Lakers to miss-hit their tee shots on the first hole - with only Drew White and Will Guy finding the fairway.  Regardless, all players scrambled to record respectable scores on the hole - including A.J. Billig, who after hitting a provisional ball from the tee after believing his first had soared out of bounds, found his initial ball and negotiated the remainder of the hole efficiently en route to a remarkable par.

The Lakers won the match's front side handily - notching four and a half points to St. Mary's one and a half.  However, the relatively lop-sided score was not without drama, as the majority of the points collected came from one-up victories secured on the front half's final hole.  Many players entered the par three with either a one-up lead or an all-square match; and one by one, the Lakers anchored their individual points through solid execution of high-quality golf shots.

The match's second half would remain close throughout the competition as well.  Junior Ben Whitman and Freshman Will Guy locked horns with two challenging St. Mary's opponents, both freshmen.  Whitman's opponent drained a 40 foot birdie putt on the second hole, and failed to retreat in his putting prowess throughout the day - making putts of 20, 10 and 15 feet in the final three holes.  Wide-eyed, but undaunted, Whitman secured a point against his opponent on the front side.  The back side however, would find the Laker in receipt of an unfortunate reality.  Standing on the second to last hole, Whitman was all square in his match.  As he drew his club into his back-swing and begin his forceful transition to forward-swing, the torque from Whitman's motion snapped the club's shaft in half.  As the clubhead and half of its shaft flew down the rough-line, his drive, partially struck by the broken club, skidded into the swampy tree line of the hole's right side.  Whitman would find his ball (and the clubhead), but given the nature of his lie and surroundings could negotiate no better than bogey - a score one stroke higher than his opponent.  That one-down posture would follow the Laker through the final hole, and close out the #1 seed on the match's back side and total.  Nevertheless, Whitman was told to stand proud for his efforts - and fail to let the unfortunate break get under his skin.

Freshman Will Guy won the final hole of the match's front side en route to a half point; then won the final two holes of the back side in order to split the second half and total match points.  Other than those holes, Guy had trailed his opponent all afternoon - but in classic fashion, dug deep when it mattered in order to rally down the stretch and secure much-needed points.  The Laker Freshman maintained his season points leader status in collecting one and a half for the Lakers against St. Mary's.

Junior A.J. Billig married a hot-and-cold driver with an steady putter en route to collecting three and a half points against his opponent.  The match went the distance, and found Billig facing a seven foot par putt at the last for the win.  It was a putt he would make, and in doing so, record his second full sweep of the season.  In addition to the aforementioned rally on the first hole, Billig scramled when necessary throughout the afternoon - a frustrating reality for any opponent.  Billig's ability to bounce-back after miss-hits is reflectively of a maturation process associated with his one-course development - and a welcome reality for the Laker three-man. 

Fellow Junior Matt Sherman took the lead early in his match and held it througout the day - utilizing classic "Shermanesque" scrambling to amaze and frustrate his opponent.  Topped drives were followed by pure fairway woods and perfect pitches to within ten feet.  Bladed chips were followed by drained putts of length.  Coaches commented that Sherman may have been channeling the spirit of the late Mark Fidyrich,

as they watched the Laker Team Captain go through his unique rituals and calculations throughout the match.  Whatever the methodology's purpose, it worked - and Sherman built on his early lead to win the match's front, back and total points.  It was Sherman's first sweep of the '09 season.

Junior Neill Peck got off to a bumpy start, yielding a point to his opponent on the match's front side.  A refocused and determined Peck took to the first tee of the second side, and in playing to his strengths went on to notch victory in the back and total matches.  "Iceman" as he is known by his coaches for his expressionless manner, found himself in a few unfortunate lies throughout the day - including a greenside position that rested against a tree, and atop a greenside bunker in a shallow divot.  Creative as he is unwavering, Peck managed to motivate the ball away from the tree and near the fringe and utilized his driver to chip the ball from the bunker's top side (motivating it to within ten feet from the hole).  The first-year starter's game is showing sizable growth; and the matches to come promise continued development from one of the team's rising stars.

Not to be outdone, Junior Drew White recorded his first full sweep of the season, and his competitive golf career.  The burly Laker bomber rocked drive after drive in excess of two hundred eighty yards - and combined his length with increasingly more mature course management.  Though a shaky putter would haunt him periodically through the match, White's length aided in off-setting any greenside weakness.  "Kong" as he is known throughout the team ranks, won the first four holes in his match in notching the front side point; however a rallying opponent took him the distance in the second half.  But the first-year Laker starter remained anchored in his game plan, and won the back side two-and-one, nevertheless.  

At day's end, the Lakers defeated St. Mary's for their first win of the season - and in doing so, fanned the flames of competitiveness inherent to their season-long journey.  With many more matches yet to be played, Boys' Latin appears well-positioned for the time ahead.

Final Score:   Boys' Latin: 15.5  /  St. Mary's: 5.5

Boys’ Latin vs. Calvert Hall

March 31, 2009

Boys’ Latin hosted 2008 Conference Champions Calvert Hall at The Suburban Club for the Lakers second match of the season.  Fresh off their narrow loss to stalwart Gilman, the maroon army once again faced a tough battle against what the coaches referred to after the match as “the most impressive collection of opposing team talent seen in years.”

It was an interesting day for the Lakers – and one that would prove to offer insight in retrospect for the Boys’ Latin squad.  Early in the match, team members found themselves offering less than their best performance against their opposition – and at the conclusion of the match’s front side, the team was down 5-1 against The Cardinals.  Heads were hung in disappointment and dirt was kicked in frustration as shot after shot fell short in meeting the increasingly higher standards of team members.  Even as affirmation was offered by spectators and coaches, the Lakers seemed to be off – not as much in ball-striking, but rather in mentality and attitude.

The lone stand-out of the match’s front side was A.J. Billig.  The Junior, playing in the roster’s third slot, secured up-and-down attempts multiple times – including two for victories – en route to notching a win on the match’s first half.  Billig had missed the green wide-right on the front side’s final hole (a par three); and was assumingly jailed behind a steep bunker that guarded a flag tucked narrowly behind its upper ledge.  Undaunted, Billig executed a remarkable pitch shot that came to rest twelve feet from the hole.  It was a putt he would make for a par – and in doing so, won the front side handily.

As each group turned to face the match’s second half, Coach Champion met with players individually during periods of green-to-tee counsel.  Encouragement was offered; and motivation was anchored through words of insight regarding each player’s attempts in facing the oft-intimidating Cardinal squad.

One such discussion took place between the Head Coach and Team Captain Matt Sherman. Sherman had taken a one down position against a smooth-swinging Calvert Hall competitor in the number-four slot.  A scrappy grinder if ever there were one, the Laker Junior had a style and presence that flew counter to his opposition’s – and seemed to be bumping against a glass ceiling in his attempts to outduel the Cardinal.  Between the eighth green and the ninth tee, Sherman paused to meet with his Head Coach – at which time he was told “Sherm, this guy you’re playing – he’s a good kid; he hits a lot of nice shots…and his swing is a lot prettier than yours.”  Sherman, who had been looking at the ground, raised his head with a knowing smile as his eyes met his Coach’s.  “But you know as well as I do, that you’re just as good of a player.  You have to play your game…not his.  Believe in your swing…not his.  You’re good enough.  I know it and you know it.  You’ve got four holes left.  Now go get ‘em.”

With a grin and a nod, Matt Sherman took to the ninth tee box; and with his own distinctive swing – one that marries a loopy path with well-conducted tempo – smashed his best drive of the day down the par five’s fairway.  Two holes later, when he next met with his Coach…he was one up.  It was a lead he would expand on, and in doing so notch two points for winning his match’s second half and total.  His was a comeback anchored in a deeper lesson – an understanding that he is at his best when he is himself – and one that will be remembered in the time ahead as an indelible manifest of confidence restored.

But Sherman’s was only one of the afternoon’s turn-arounds.  Juniors Ben Whitman, Drew White and Neil Peck all shook off the ill-temper of front side losses – and at the feet of their Coach’s engagement, laid to rest the notion that they would fall short in challenging their opponents for the remainder of the day.

“Drew, you seem to be hitting a cut today; am I correct?” Coach Champion said, approaching the burly, hard swinging, team rookie. “Yes, sir.  Shots keep moving to the right,” he responded, shaking his head in frustration for his inability to combat a stubbornly open clubface. “Here’s a thought big man…play it!” the head coach responded with a firm whisper and wide-eyed stare.  “Play the cut.  You know you’re going to hit it.  It’s dependable.  Don’t fight it.  Play it.  That’s your game.  Don’t try to play a game that’s not yours.  Aim left and play the cut.  Now go get ‘em.”  “His own eyes widening with understanding, and an a-ha look about his face, the Laker Linkster know as “Kong” responded with a firm nod and walked to the tee box.  His drive, like all ones prior, was hit hard…up the fairway’s left side, and cut beautifully across the short grass before falling to rest in its center.  In that moment, Drew White learned that the only thing that rivals the beauty of a well-executed cut shot is the power in understanding one’s own relative strengths.

For the second match in a row, Junior Ben Whitman faced-off against one of the conference’s top ranked individual competitors.  Calvert Hall’s top seed is regularly referred to as the heir-apparent to the MIAA’s throne of achievement.  And rightfully so.  The Cardinal Sophomore is young, strong and has a motion that moves the hearts of on-lookers by striking a rare combination of inspiration and fear.  The power inherent to his well-paced

but nonetheless fierce swing at times prompts sympathy for the golf ball – with a belief that even an inanimate object isn’t free from feeling the pain of such brute force.

And Whitman, recognizing the weight of burden inherent to facing such an opponent – found himself outside of his normal pace and timing.  The Laker’s gaze darted and his teeth grinded through a front half that found him falling short of victory.  Shaking off his Coach’s instruction to slow the pace of his motion in order to improve tempo and therefore ball-striking, a confused Head Coach stepped aside in a rare moment of quasi player-dissension.  Then, in returning to his top player’s side, said “Whitty, no man is an island.  You’re not out here by yourself.  I’ve helped bring you from 92 to 72 and I can help bring you back into this match.  But only if you listen to me.”  The player nodded, leaning on his driver and looking at the ground.  “Now when I tell you to make a deliberate practice swing, I want you to make a deliberate practice swing.  Understand?” Again, the player nodded, this time confirming verbally “I understand.”  “Good.  Now watch your pace; take a slow practice swing; know that you’re not out here by yourself; and go get ‘em.”

In the four remaining holes, the top seed’s practice swings moved at the pace of a snail with some time on its hands – and the Laker’s resulting shots were his finest of the day.  In classic fashion Ben Whitman went on to tame the beast and won his match’s second half - his resulting rally notching another point for the rebounding Laker squad.  What’s more, another player, this one a team veteran, came to recall the substance associated with an age-old adage noting the absence of an “I” in “Team.”

No stranger himself to a hanging head, Junior and team rookie, Neil Peck kicked the dirt (and sand) more times that he would have preferred during his match’s front side.  The normally level-headed Peck, who had fired a personal-best forty-two on the front nine in his prior competitive outing, was visually frustrated after multiple shots failed to meet his own expectations.  Prior to the second-half’s inception, the normally-reserved Peck approached Coach Champion and sighed when asked how he was doing “Not playing too well today, Coach” he said, while lifting his bag to his shoulders.  “Look Neil, two things” Coach responded “One: You’re good enough.  You’re an excellent player and a solid ball-striker.  That’s a fact.” Peck raised his brow as he paused and looked at his Coach. “Two: Have you ever played Poker?”  “Sure,” the Laker responded. “Well, have you ever bluffed?” Coach asked. “Yea…” Peck responded, the brow now lowered and eyebrows closer together. “Well that’s what you have to do when you hit a bad shot.  You have to bluff.  Don’t let your opponent know that you didn’t like your shot.  And certainly don’t let them know that you’re frustrated.  Their resulting thought process will go something like this ‘I don’t have to beat this guy.  He’s doing just fine beating himself.’”  Don’t let ‘em see you sweat, Neil.  Because you and I both know that your level-headed composure is an asset that cannot be wasted.  Keep your cool – good shot or bad.  Stay strong and focus on the shot at hand.  Now go get ‘em.”

Neil Peck plodded through the remainder of the round with a sharp focus and a shot-response discipline that was devoid of emotion.  Coaches observed his opponent periodically turn his attention to the reaction of the Laker when, periodically, a miss-hit had assumingly been struck.  But that was all the opponent would receive – an assumption – as no affirmation was offered by the re-focused Laker that the shot he had hit was anything short of what was intended.  The Iceman had cometh – and his name was Neil Peck.

Freshman Will Guy continued his success in the roster’s second slot – but only after turning-around his showing against his Calvert Hall opponent.  After recording the finest first-match effort in Laker Golf history, the cool and collected Guy fell victim to his Cardinal opposition on the match’s first half.  Undaunted and inspired to step-up his game, Guy lowered the bill of his hat and gazed down the fairway of the hole before him – staunch in his determination and firm in his purpose.  In maintaining a dependable tee-to-green strategy and wielding a newly-hot putter, Guy motivated himself through a come-from-behind barn-storming session that found him getting up-and-down on the final hole in securing victories for the match’s second side and total.  Guy played with a peace about him and a quiet but firm confidence that the coaches consider remarkable given his limited tenure and freshman standing.  Such attributes are reflections of an on-course maturation that is as impressive as the shots it produces.

At day’s end, the Lakers rallied to win the second half of the match – though given their rough start to the day, fell short in their final scoring efforts against top-ranked Calvert Hall.  However, many lessons were learned and many developments fulfilled for the squad – the fruit of which will prove manifest in the days and weeks ahead.

Final Score:   Boys’ Latin: 6.5  /  Calvert Hall: 14.5

Boys’ Latin vs. Gilman

March 26, 2009

Having been handed a tough schedule for the opening matches of the season, Boys’ Latin faced-off against top-ranked Gilman in the year’s first match.  The Lakers had fallen to Gilman 14.5 to 6.5 in 2008 and were handed a 20 to 1 loss in 2007.  Standing just as strong in 2009 as they had been in years past, Gilman was once again considered an early-season top-seed and conference favorite.

To say that the weather was challenging would be a true understatement.  Rain had fallen throughout the day and continued through match-time.  Temperatures peaked at 45 degrees and had dropped into the upper 30s by late afternoon.  It was cold, wet, and miserable…But the Lakers were ready.

Rain Gear was donned, umbrellas were opened, winter hats were pulled low, and determination was present in the eyes of squad members.  Boys' Latin had experience playing and practicing in poor weather.  They had gear to protect them from the elements.  They knew the course, and they knew themselves.  They were hungry to compete and were ready to give their all.  And do so they did, in classic fashion.

With Brenden Schwartz removed from the line-up, Boys’ Latin repositioned their squad to offset the loss of the Team’s #2 player.  Players 3-6 were moved-up in the roster, and a qualifier was held Wednesday in order to see who would round-out the day’s line-up .

When the first shots were struck – in a cold wall of precipitation – a certain kind of feeling was present on the tee at the Suburban Club.  It was an apparent sense that Boys’ Latin would not fall easily – that they were ready to compete and that they would hold their ground with their very best efforts.

Junior Ben Whitman took an early lead on Gilman’s top player (considered by many to be the conference’s best) – and refused to relinquish that lead throughout the day.  At day’s end, Whitman, a three-year veteran of the Laker squad, swept his match and collected all three points from the Greyhound Goliath.

After the match’s front side, the Boys’ Latin stood all-square with Gilman – a feat never before accomplished since the Lakers joined the A Conference.  It was an affirming accomplishment indeed, and team members found rejuvenated life in their games for having stood toe-to-toe with the perennial conference contender.  The enthusiasm would carry into the second half of the match – and would find the Lakers continuing in their underdog battle.

Competing in his first varsity match, Freshman Will Guy posted a tremendous effort – collecting 2.5 points in the line-up’s #2 slot.  Wielding a dependable driver and deft touch greenside, Guy plodded through rain and cold to halve the match’s front side before winning it’s back and total.  In what could be one of the day’s finest highlights, Guy had found himself bunkered in three near the final green (a par five), with his opponent facing a birdie chip from 30 feet.  Undaunted, Guy played a perfectly-executed sand shot that came to rest three feet from the hole.  It was a putt that he would make – and when his opponent failed to better the effort, Guy would collect his points in what was easily the finest first-match showing in Laker Golf history.

A.J. Billig re-entered the line-up after finding himself away from the team in 2008.  It was a welcome return for the Junior, and he wasted no time in making his presence known.  Billig took a one-up lead early, and didn’t release the advantage all afternoon.  His game reflected consistency and maturity – and when the final putt was holed, Billig would notch 3 points in winning the front, back and total matches.

Though they would not collect points on the day, valiant efforts were reflected in the games of Juniors Matt Sherman and Neil Peck.  Sherman, the team captain, spoke words of affirmation and encouragement to his teammate, Billig, throughout the day – and plodded through his own battle with one of Gilman’s toughest

challengers.  Peck, playing in his first-ever competitive match, maintained his classic calm demeanor and level head throughout the day – and posted a fine attempt against his opponent.

Also playing in his inaugural match was Junior Drew White.  Having never played anything other than periodic recreational golf, White tried-out for the Team this Spring with hopes of improving his game and enjoying himself.  Dubbed “Kong” by his coaches, White marries a hit-it-hard mentality with a surprisingly delicate touch around the green.  Having shown sizable improvement since day one, White had won the qualifying spot to compete in the match’s 6 slot.  Standing on the final tee (a par 3) of the match’s front side, he stood all square with his Gilman challenger – a feat in and of itself.  And when his tee shot found the green’s fringe, Drew White was moments away from notching a much-needed half-point in the anchor slot of the day’s competition.  It was a remarkable showing from one of the team’s most endearing stories and personalities.

At day’s end, Boys’ Latin would fall by a single point to Gilman.  But the narrow defeat was in nearly every way, a victory for the Lakers.  Having never been so close to the top, they were inspired for having risen as far.  And for their near-victory against the conference’s top seed, they remain anchored in their purpose and affirmed in their discipline.

Final Score:  Boys’ Latin: 9.5  /  Gilman: 11.5

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