Hopkinton High School golf coach Bill Phaneuf has a problem filling out his lineup, but it’s one that most coaches would happily take. Eight players compete in a match, and whichever three players shoot the lowest score are rotated out for the next match to give other players a chance.
But with as many as a dozen kids who all can shoot a solid score within a stroke or two of one another, Phaneuf has had to sit some skilled players.
“We have a lot of good kids this year,” he said. “We don’t have a guy who is going to shoot a 36 every day, but I have 12 kids who can shoot 41 every day. We have a lot of depth.”
Among the 130 players who have competed in varsity matches in the Tri-Valley League, Hopkinton has five players who are averaging scores that place them in the top 26.
Freshman Parker Winn is 19th in the league. He played himself into the lineup during the second match of the year and has not looked back since.
“He is a really good player,” Phaneuf said. “He is a good athlete who plays hockey and baseball and he has been really consistent for us. Hopefully he will continue to factor into matches.”
Junior Drew Morse has been the top player in terms of stroke average, ranking 12th in the TVL. He and Winn have been part of a contingent that has averaged between 38 and 42 for nine holes during home matches at Hopkinton Country Club.
Consistency also is the hallmark of senior Jack Petruney, who has seen his scores vary by only a stroke or two, according to Phaneuf.
Perhaps the biggest pleasant surprise for the Hillers has been junior Mike Liptak.
“We were hoping he could get into some matches, but he got in on the second match and he is another kid who hasn’t come out yet,” Phaneuf said of Liptak, whose play has put him within the top 20 golfers in the league.
Henry Wailgum is ranked 26th in stroke average, giving the Hillers yet another player with the capability to go low on a given day.
“I never have to worry about the three kids I take out, because I know the next three are likely equally as good,” Phaneuf said. “It’s good, but it’s also hard to make sure we get everybody enough matches.”
Phaneuf said he is pleased with his team’s performance this season. Though, like many golf teams, there is a clear difference between playing on a home course as opposed to the less familiar tracks on the road.
“We’ve had home matches where we had all kids shoot under 42, it was incredible,” Phaneuf said. “On the road, we are not nearly as consistent. It’s a lot better when we are at home.”
It’s another product of not having a top-end player with a scratch handicap like the Hillers have enjoyed in past seasons.
“Having the depth is good, but it would be nice to have one or two of those kids to throw in a 37 or 38, just in case we have a kid who throws in a 47,” the coach said.
Still, with a dozen juniors on the roster, Hopkinton is well positioned to both stand out this season and build for the future.
“I think we are in pretty good shape,” Phaneuf said. “We continue to be focused on the future of the program as well as wanting to do the best we can for this year.”