High school golfers get head start with eased restrictions, summer tournaments
Friday, June 19, 2020 | 2:04 PM
Freeport’s youth program is as much of a summer tradition at Buffalo Golf Course as outings and leagues.
The program, which amounts to a voluntary preseason gathering of high school golfers who are getting ready for the fall season, has been in place since 1993 and has not missed a beat. The streak will continue: the coronavirus outbreak and its restrictions won’t prevent year No. 28.
“We plan to begin the summer program on Tuesday, July 7,” Freeport coach Joe Sprumont said. “It’ll be every Tuesday and Thursday morning until the season officially begins.”
When Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced golf courses could reopen in the yellow phase of his color-tiered plan to bring the state back from the virus shutdown, high school golfers immediately began their “workouts.”
Other fall sports such as football, soccer and girls volleyball have to wait for their respective school boards to approve health and safety guidelines — a sidecar to what the state proposed recently — before they can get join up for summer sessions.
So does that mean golfers will be 1-up on the other athletes come the fall, assuming sports are allowed to start?
“High school golfers have been fortunate that they could get back on the course May 1 and begin playing, basically as they will during the season,” Sprumont said. “So, yes, golfers have had an advantage.”
A number of district players have already competed in several youth tournaments, be it with the Tri-State PGA, IJGA, Hurricane Tour or events at their home courses.
Some are right on schedule with their training, status quo, long before the fall season starts.
“I would say we definitely have an edge over the rest of the athletes,” said Penn-Trafford rising senior Alex Turowski, the WPIAL Class AAA runner-up last season. “Clubs were closed down for some time but opened early compared to everything else. Plus we are able to have tournament play while other sports can only (begin) practice with their own teams.”
Greensburg Central Catholic incoming junior Ella Zambruno, who will look to help lead the Centurions to a sixth consecutive WPIAL title and a third straight PIAA championship, does not see golf pulling ahead of other sports.
She said the quarantine time gave athletes a chance to practice and prepare on their own, even if it was off the course.
“I don’t really think that we would have an advantage because sometimes there is more to sports than the just the physical preparation,” she said. “While you are off, you can work on the mental part of the game. Sometimes a break is good. It makes you miss the game more and want to work hard once you get a chance to get back at it.”
Zambruno said team gatherings can only go so far.
“Working on your skills alone can be just as effective as a team practice,” she said.
The first date golf teams can begin practicing and conduct tryouts is Aug. 17. Teams can play matches Aug. 20.
By then, Sprumont hopes, his players will be adjusted to practicing and playing their home course.
“Our players are able to play the sport now as they normally would in competition,” he said. “To have an outlet, to get out of the house, to do something active and healthy for a couple hours.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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