NEW BRITAIN - For the New Britain girls golf program, each year brings a similar challenge.
The Hurricanes and coach Rich Carlson have freshmen on the team that unlike some other schools in the Central Connecticut Conference have never played on a golf course before coming to high school.
“The majority of my team is people who have never picked up a golf club before, which is pretty typical for inner city kids,” New Britain senior No. 1 golfer Kiley Griffin said. “I think for the team as a whole, just getting the experience and being able to say, ‘yeah I can play golf decently’ may sound kind of bad but for people that have never played golf before the improvement they’ve made is outstanding. Even if their scores aren’t the lowest in the league that we have, it’s still pretty impressive to see the growth they’ve made from the start of the year to now.”
Natalie Brewer, Monika Mocarski, Ava Morell and Sierra Prisco all graduated so the Hurricanes are in restart mode once again with only their top two players, Griffin and Catherine Keithline, returning with experience. Kendra Levesque also has some experience but had only played in a few matches last year before being moved up to the No. 3 spot this season after only playing No. 5 or No. 6 last year.
“We lost all of our good players,” Levesque said. “And we got a bunch of new players so they’re really trying to work to get into the game because they’re going to be our team next year. For them to improve and for all of us to feel good about our games are the goals.”
With the lack of experience, the early matches in a season are a time for Carlson to evaluate his players and figure out the best way to work with them in order to improve their scores. In order to do so, Carlos stresses a certain life skill.
“We met in early February and had a couple meetings to talk about commitment,” Carlson said. “Only two of these girls have ever played on a course before and I’m trying to impress upon the others what it takes having not played before. When I get girls, it’s miniature golf, that’s what they’ve played. As an inner city school I’ve always been proud of the girls on the accomplishments they’ve made from freshmen to senior year.”
So far this season, New Britain has seen improvement on the course yet inconsistency as well from top to bottom. The Hurricanes scored a 271 as a team in their opening match against Middletown. Since then New Britain has scores of 260, 265, 245 and 271. Those four have all come at visiting courses.
The score of 245 against Manchester was a sign of a group with the ability to improve and become better at the game.
Another sign of improvement has been the pace of play for the Hurricanes. After taking over three hours to finish previous matches, New Britain finished in two and a half hours against Newington on Monday. Much of this can be attributed to learning different aspects of the game and how to approach a round.
“They’re getting used to it,” Carlson said. “The pace of play, how to hit the ball out of the rough, putting and reading greens. It’s coming along nicely.”
As a team, the goal is to finish the season shooting a score of around 225. For now, the Hurricanes may not expect to win every match but each match gives them an opportunity to eventually reach that point.
“We talk about matches we can’t win right now,” Carlson said. “We know we’re not going to win the match but we want to go out there and shoot a score for you and work on something that’s been a problem so far so we can address it at practice.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org