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Coaching change for Cape golf team

February 17, 2017

Chris Krueger, Kings Creek Country Club director of golf instruction, is the new head coach of the Cape Henlopen High School golf team.

Krueger, 42, has been the teaching pro at Kings Creek for more than eight years. A 1991 graduate of Mt. Pleasant High School in Wilmington, he earned a business management degree from Old Dominion University in 1996. 

Krueger has won the Delaware Amateur and Delaware Open, and remains among the top 10 professional golfers in the current Delaware tournament circuit.

A few years on the lower-level pro tours convinced Krueger to stay in golf, but in a different way. That led to teaching stints at places such as the Jim McLean Golf School in Florida, and the eventual attainment of his PGA Class A status.

Krueger is a longtime supporter of junior golf, and assisted both the Cape golf team and Sussex Academy in the past. 

“I’m excited to coach the kids,” he said. “I have my ideas on how to build up the program, and am extremely hopeful about the team’s prospects.”

George Bushby, Rehoboth Beach Country Club’s senior assistant golf professional, is joining Krueger as an assistant coach. Beacon Middle School teacher Samantha Purple, a former Cape golf team standout in her own right, and an assistant to coach Claudio Smarrelli for several years, is also returning to Cape’s coaching staff. 

Krueger will be attending a meeting of parents and Cape golf boosters at the Villages of Five Points Greene Turtle restaurant’s back room Monday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. to talk about his plans for the upcoming season.

When contacted about the coaching change, Smarrelli said simply, “It was time for a change. It’s been a good ride, and I’m proud of my accomplishments.” 

He should be.  

Smarrelli volunteered as the JV coach in 2004, and became the varsity head coach in 2005. Except for a one-year break in 2011, he kept at it. 

For most of his tenure, Cape’s golf team remained among the leading scholastic golf programs in the state, especially among the schools in Sussex County. The Vikings qualified for the state tournament in all but a few years of Smarrelli’s time with the kids, and several golfers went on to successful years with college golf teams. 

His fellow golf coaches honored Smarrelli with a Henlopen Conference Coach of the Year Award in 2014. Smarrelli instituted a booster club for the team, and that group provides significant assistance for the Vikings. 

“I’d like to thank the district, the local golf clubs and the local golf community for their support,” Smarrelli said. “I wish Chris well, and a lot of luck.” 

Former Shawnee CC president passes on

Gardner Shugart, a past president of Shawnee Country Club, died Jan. 31 at age 78. A retired State of Delaware employee, the Milford resident was active in many parts of his community, including the Milford Lions Club, the Milford Public Library and Shawnee, his favorite golf course. Shugart served as the club president in the early 2000s.

Many years ago, Shugart joined others in starting and then running a hugely popular midweek golf league for Shawnee members. In its heyday, more than 56 golfers played matches each week in spring and summer, supplemented by a gang of volunteer fill-ins. 

Shugart’s impish grin matched his personality. I have a fond memory of the time he gave an award to John Eustis and me at a Shawnee league postseason dinner. He announced a new prize, allegedly earned by the players best known for being the last ones in the clubhouse after each match.  

Eustis and I each received a combination flashlight/clock.

Shugart joined in the laughter as we walked to the podium for our “honors.” 

I still have it on my shelf along with other treasured golf memorabilia. 

Shugart was a genuinely nice guy, and it was a pleasure to know him.

PGA Junior League sign-ups for Rookery South team 

The folks at Rookery South are planning to join other Cape Region clubs in sponsoring a PGA Junior League Team. 

This is a great initiative for junior golf. Kids play matches against other clubs in a scramble format, guaranteeing that each golfer has a chance to contribute toward the team’s victories.

The schedule includes four weekly practice sessions with a PGA professional, six matches against other area clubs and free practice range use at both Rookery courses.

As with other junior leagues, each team member wears a special numbered shirt for their matches, just like the Little Leagues in baseball and softball. 

For more information, contact Rookery Assistant Pro Brandon Laigle at 302-684-3000, or email bwlaigle@pga.com. You can also go to pgajlg.com, and follow the ZIP code link to the Rookery South sign-up.

Lessons with the golf pro on the simulator

PGA Professional Steve Smith, most recently of The Golf Park at Rehoboth, is now scheduling lessons at 365 Golf, the simulator operation on Route 1. He can be reached at 302-236-3645. For more information, contact Ben Bateman of 365 Golf at 302-727-0789.

2017 PGA Merchandise Show 

In late January, I traveled south to Orlando, Fla., for the 2017 edition of the PGA Merchandise Show. It’s just another example of the hard work that goes into providing a weekly golf column for our Cape Gazette readership. 

In upcoming columns, I will discuss some of the interesting items I saw on display at the show, and if and where you can find them in the Cape Region.

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