The Ward Melville High School golf team closed the season with a feeling that could probably be compared to a hole in one.
The team walked off the Rock Hill Golf Course in first place after the Suffolk County high school golf championships Oct. 31. In addition to the team win, senior Alexander Korkuc finished third in the individual tournament with a score of 154. The team will go on to the Long Island championship, and Korkuc qualified for the state tournament. Both will take place in the spring.
“I told them right from the beginning, ‘You guys have the talent.'”
— Bob Spira
Bob Spira, who has coached the team for some 12 years, said the golfers are looking forward to the Long Island championship. The last time the Patriots took the title was in 2016.
“This year we’re back on the map again, so it’s really nice to be back on top,” Spira said.
The coach said the six team members work well together, and he considers all top players. He said they worked hard this season and didn’t hesitate to keep practicing shots that they missed in a match, even if it meant hitting 200 balls.
“I told them right from the beginning, ‘You guys have the talent,’” the coach said. “‘It’s just putting in the time and just everything working out. Even the best golfers can have a bad round. So, don’t let it get in your head, keep moving forward.’”
Korkuc said he wouldn’t want any other coach than Spira.
“He’s a great coach,” he said. “He’s been there for me four years, and he’s always told me to keep working and it will eventually work out.”
Ward Melville junior, Palmer Van Tuyl, said he’s been playing with the team since eighth grade, and he has witnessed how the team and he have grown as players. A highlight for him this year was successfully shooting two rounds under par in matches.
“That was really big in my development to know I have the ability to have really good scores in addition to solid play all season long,” Van Tuyl said.
He said his teammates who, in addition to Korkuc and himself, include eighth-graders Gavin Girard and Nick Stoecker with eleventh-grader Andrew Petraco and ninth-grader Mike Petraco, are strong players. Van Tuyl said having skilled younger players is important for the future of team.
“To have that much depth that early is, I think, a big key to our strength.”
— Palmer Van Tuyl
“To have that much depth that early is, I think, a big key to our strength,” he said.
When it came to the team win after the Suffolk County championship and Korkuc’s qualification, Van Tuyl said it made him forget his disappointment coming in 11th place on the second day.
“The self-pity or the self-sadness was completely overshadowed by the great feeling I had for the team, and the happiness I had for my friend,” he said.
Korkuc and Van Tuyl said their teammates are like a second family. Korkuc, who hopes to take a year off from college to attend a golf academy next academic year, has advice for his fellow teammates.
“Keep working hard and everything will fall in place like it did for me,” he said.