Cape golf season soon upon us

February 22, 2013

Spring is still a month away, and so for some Cape Henlopen High School students, their fancy will soon turn to their one true love.

It’s golf, of course.

The first meeting of student athletes interested in playing on the Cape Henlopen High School golf team was scheduled for Feb. 20.

Head coach Claudio Smarrelli is returning to duty for the 2013 season, and he’s looking forward to the challenge. To date, Smarrelli said, he expects 11 freshmen, nine sophomores and three juniors to formally sign up.

Any Cape student who is interested should contact the high school’s athletic department. The usual permission slips for modern-day scholastic sports participation are required, even for golf.

Cape alumnus Samantha Purple, now a teacher in the district, and Kings Creek assistant golf pro Chris Krueger are also returning to duties as assistant golf coaches.

The home course will again be Rehoboth Beach Country Club. Both RBCC and Kings Creek Country Club are to be commended for their continuing support for junior golf in general, and scholastic golf in particular. That kind of backing is not always found throughout the state, sad to say.

The first day of formal practice is set for Monday, March 4, for which Smarrelli had a one-word reaction: “Brrrrrr.”

He’s not kidding. I’ve been to more than a dozen opening-week practices for the Vikings. They have nearly always been windy, chilly, often bitterly cold hours out on the Rehoboth Beach CC driving range. The weather had often not improved much by the first formal match, this year set for Monday, March 25.

Last year’s team finished with a winning record, Nonetheless, the Vikings did not compete well enough overall to qualify for the state high school championship tournament, to be held this year in New Castle County May 28-29. That was an unfortunate first for Cape High golf.

As in years past, however, the Cape High golf team should be able to count upon widespread community support for the program. Coach Smarrelli asked me to let readers know that Cape would appreciate donations of used golf sets (in good condition), as well as used golf balls. For more information about these and other potential donations, contact the Cape Athletic Department at 302-645-7090.

Trust but verify

Former President Ronald Reagan was not a golfer, but one of his stock phrases about the Soviet Union is also a helpful reminder about an important golf rule.

I refer to Reagan’s fundamental requirement for achieving a significant arms reduction treaty with Gorbachev: “Trust but verify.”

In the following golf context, taken from a recent USGA Ruling of the Day, this pithy phrase applies with equal force.

A golfer manages to mis-hit his golf ball but still watches it miraculously end up on the green.

He puts a ball marker down, lifts his ball, inspects it and then blithely tosses the ball into a nearby pond, where it disappears without further ado.

The golfer then tells his playing competitors that his ball was unfit for play, and he will be substituting another ball for the recently drowned ProV.

Unfortunately, he never gave his opponents a chance to examine the ball before it plopped into the pond.

This was a mistake, and a costly one.

Whenever a golfer decides that his ball is no longer fit for use, he is entitled to offer it up for inspection and agreement by his opposition. Most normal golfers will readily agree with his suggestion, if there’s any rational basis for it. In the unlikely event they disagree, however, he is required to put his ball back in play.

Failing to permit the verification, and not using the same ball he started with on the hole costs the golfer the hole in which it occurs in match play, or two strokes in medal play.

He can now play the substitute ball, but in this case, the damage is already done.

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