Ellington golf team on par, awaiting tournament

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington - posted Fri., May. 20, 2011
Ellington's Mike Thibodeau takes his second shot on the first hole in the match vs. Wolcott and Enfield on May 19 at the Ellington Ridge Country Club. Photos by Steve Smith.
Ellington's Mike Thibodeau takes his second shot on the first hole in the match vs. Wolcott and Enfield on May 19 at the Ellington Ridge Country Club. Photos by Steve Smith.

Improving to 10-5 after a split three-way match (Wolcott 155, Ellington 165, Enfield 170) on May 19, the Ellington High School varsity golf team is getting in tune for the state open.

Coach Mike Stiles said his team has played well, and some big conference wins have given his team a boost, but there have also been two conference losses.

With two seniors – Mike Gresh and Nick Larew – the team is made up of mostly younger players, some of whom have stepped up to help the team succeed.

“Sophomore Jeff Byrd is playing the number-five spot,” Stiles said. “He's had some good rounds, shooting 39 a couple of times. Our number-four guy is John McPartland – another sophomore – he's been playing really well.”

Number-one player Larew – also a senior captain – has the best average on the team, and junior Mike Thibodeau is also having a good year, Stiles said.

“Nick, in addition to being an exceptional student in the classroom, is a good teammate, and he takes the game seriously,” Stiles said. “He does a nice job as co-captain for us. He's rather unassuming. He doesn't talk about his game, but he always comes in with a good score. He's just got a good all-around game.”

“Mike is a guy that can shoot par golf on good days,” Stiles said. “He's just really committed to it. He and Nick play golf after the matches are over.”

That kind of commitment, Stiles said, is what makes the players good. He added that in golf, unlike other sports, that onus is heavier on the players than on the coaches.

“If you're a golfer, you kind of grew up playing golf,” Stiles said. “From my perspective as a coach, it's more talking about how you manage your round, and how you deal with things when they don't go so well for you. Skill-wise, most of the guys come in with a good amount of skill. Coaching is more the mental aspect of it. If I see something obvious, I might point it out to them, but I don't try to tweak their swings or anything of that nature.”

Stiles said the team has qualified for the Division III state tournament. Ellington placed fifth in last year's tournament, and posted a 15-4 overall record.


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