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Boys’ Golf Switches To Fall Season



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South-West Conference boys’ golfers will tee off in the fall starting this September. Traditionally a spring sport for both girls and boys, the girls will continue to take to the greens in April, but the boys will now hit the fairways while the foliage is changing.

The driving forces for the change, Newtown High School Athletic Director Matt Memoli said, are course availability, because some conference school girls’ and boys’ teams share one course, and the fact more boys’ sports are offered in the spring than in the fall season.

Newtown High did not have a course sharing issue — the girls compete at Newtown Country Club and the boys play out of Rock Ridge Country Club — but the Newtown athletes stand to gain more opportunities to play sports, given fall sports offered for boys previously only included soccer, football, and cross country. In spring, there are track, tennis, baseball, volleyball, and lacrosse.

“That could open up the door for them if they want to play [a spring] sport,” Memoli said.

That said, if an athlete had previously played a fall sport and golf in the spring, that player would have a different decision to make regarding their fall sport choices.

Newtown Coach Shawn Tierney said he believes one of his golfers will be lost to soccer, but is hopeful of gaining some team members who already have a spring sport.

“You might pick up a baseball player or a lacrosse player,” he pointed out.

Girls are allowed to participate on boys’ golf teams in the fall and then would be eligible to play a different sport in the spring, said Joe Velardi, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference liaison for golf.

Although Newtown boys and girls each have their own courses, those are shared with other country club members. Tierney said the new arrangement could create opportunities for more practice times by utilizing both courses.

Throughout the years, Newtown’s golf tryouts have been held indoors due to rain (and sometimes snow). The opportunity to have tryouts on a course lends itself to a more objective process, Memoli believes.

Rather than enter into the season cold, boys’ golfers will have a chance to hone their skills on the courses throughout the spring and summer, which could lead to better play overall, at least out of the gate, Tierney believes.

“I think that would be a great advantage,” Memoli said.

“I think it’s going to be overall better for the kids because they’ve played all summer,” Tierney said.

Rain-outs are commonplace in the spring. Not that they don’t take place in the fall, but April tends to be a wet month around here, so the boys’ golf season stands to have less weather-related changes in the fall.

Tierney expects better weather in the fall, noting, “The courses in the spring are so wet.”

“I think golf in September, October, and November is fantastic,” Memoli added.

The golf schedule calls for teams to play no more than three matches per week, beginning in late August — more than a week before all other sports teams begin competition. State tourney action is to take place on October 18, with the New England tourney set for November 1.

There will be a State Open for both boys and girls in the spring, held at the same time and on the same course, said Velardi, adding that fall golfers will not be eligible to play in the spring State Open.

The weather does not tend to get too cold until late in the fall, and Daylight Saving Time does not end until November 7. Even with days getting shorter throughout the fall, Tierney said, there should not be any issues given golf matches begin at 3 pm.

Another area conference that has made the switch to fall is the Fairfield County Athletic Conference, which includes teams in lower Fairfield County. Some of conferences opted not to make the switch. Newtown will compete in Division I for states against some of teams from the SWC, FCIAC, and Central Connecticut Conference.

Newtown is scheduled to have its first match on Monday, August 30, on the road against Weston, at Aspetuck Country Club.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Newtown and Joel Barlow of Redding golfers walk the course at Rock Ridge Country Club during a match in April. These teams will now compete in the fall. —Bee Photo, Hutchison
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