Tag Archives: Golf

Facing participation issues, the golf program looks to take a step forward

Mike Dooley marks his 30th season as Head Varsity Golf Coach.

For 30 years, the Varsity Golf Team has competed under the watchful eyes of Coach Mike Dooley. Photo Credit: Edward Schultheis

Following a difficult season for Varsity Golf in 2022, the team anticipates a massive leap forward into 2023. Mr. Mike Dooley, entering his 30th season as the Varsity head coach, positively approached these struggles: “Last season, while we might not have had a great record, we had a very unique roster. We started with one senior, two sophomores, and three freshmen. We had a roster that looks forward to the next couple of years.” Coming off a season with two wins in twelve matches, Coach Dooley used last season as motivation to build a winning program for 2023.

Though young teams are an issue in any sport, sophomore J.D. Mahoney confronted the development with a concrete solution: “It came down to whether they [the players] had tournament experience or not, experience the stress that comes in competitive play. Once you get into that, it becomes more of a mind game among yourself.” He added that this mental challenge hurt their play and match scores.

J.D. Mahoney chips onto the green during a match against McDonogh. Photo Credit: Mr. Schultheis

I also asked J.D. about an issue that has plagued the golf program for many years: participation. He continued to emphasize the mental struggle that comes with playing golf: “I think they don’t like it competitively. Match play is all walking and completely serious, with a lot of mental games. If we were to popularize the sport more, we would have to make it more casual for people to go play.”

The participation issue has also plagued the coaches’ ability to select their teams. Coach Dooley said, “We don’t have the volume. Like this year, in our fall organizational meeting, we only had 23 students attend, and we will carry rosters of perhaps 18/19. We’d like to have more to choose from and people coming into MSJ with more accomplished golf games.” According to Coach Bob, the assistant JV coach, there is not a solution, but the players “have to want to do it.”

Coach Mike Dooley instructs a player during practice. Photo Credit: Mr. Schultheis

On the other hand, the increase in golfers due to COVID has become a massive assist to the golf program. Coach Bob had this to say about the growth of MSJ golf over the years: “We’ve had some lean years and some really good years. Back in 2012 or 2013, I had one freshman. But COVID brought a lot of people out because it was the first sport people could do. The last two years, we’ve had really good groups of freshmen, which will translate into a really good Varsity team over the next two or three years.” Unlike other sports, these coaches must factor in the unpredictability of the incoming golfers, and that makes it hard to know what might happen in future seasons.

Through all the ups and downs, Coach Bob has thoroughly enjoyed his time in the MSJ golf program. As the king of golf references, he paraphrased a quote from thirteen-time major champion Bobby Jones: “If you take everything out of my life except the experience I’ve had with St. Joe, I’d still think I had a really good career.”

Coach Bob intently watches his players during practice. Photo Credit: Mr. Schultheis

Though sometimes completely unrelated, Coach Bob also holds countless golf stories through his years wt Rolling Road and traveling with the JV golf team. When I asked him about some of his favorite MSJ stories, he flashed back to last season’s JV golf finale at Diamond Ridge: “My highlight last year was when Brian Cecil made that birdie on #10 in that last match. Where did that come from? But I’m glad he did it. I think that’s provided him with a, ‘Hey, I can do this.”

Junior Brock Weisman expects to lead a better St. Joe squad this season. Photo Credit: Mr. Schultheis

The MSJ golf program, although sometimes overlooked, provides a fundamental look into how a sports program should be run. Obviously, hard work and dedication come first, but the excitement and enjoyment from all the coaches and golfers build incredible trust that runs deep in the program’s history. The game of golf can be difficult and frustrating, but it provides lifelong memories and improves people’s everyday lives.

Alex Kwas is a sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Returning a talented team, could 2019 be the year for the Golf Gaels?

Since winning the MIAA championship in 2012, the MSJ Varsity Golf Team has not come close to the top of the conference for a little over 5 years. Going on year number 6 without a championship, the 2018-2019 season could be the year where things turn around for the Gaels. Led by Head Coach Mike Dooley, there are a lot of returning players and new talent coming in, making the expectations pretty high for this upcoming season. This gave me an opportunity to dig deeper into the subject and find out how the team feels about this fast approaching season.

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Head Coach Mike Dooley discussing the outcome of an early season match last season. After a hot start, the Varsity Golf Team failed to live up to preseason expectations.

The coaching staff look to be holding high hopes for the upcoming season, and sees the team “competing for one of the top spots in the league,” said assistant coach of the varsity team Ed Schultheis. Ryan Schmitz, a senior golfer on the team, seems to hold parallel expectations stating that, “With the returning players and the new talent coming in this year, the team is going to have a lot of opportunities to win a lot of matches this season.” If the players and coaches stay on the same page throughout the season and execute game plans during matches, it appears that the Gaels could potentially be putting “2019” on the MIAA championship banner in the Smith Center at the end of the season.

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St. Joe Varsity number 1 golfer, Ryan Schmitz, will be expected to lead an improved and experienced squad this season.

With high expectations on the season comes high expectations for the players to perform. Coach Schultheis has high hopes for the play of all members of the team but none as high as the expectations of the “undisputed number 1” golfer on the St. Joe team, Ryan Schmitz.

The reason for having such expectations is because Ryan played at the number 1 spot last season going toe to toe with the best players in the MIAA and held his own. Being a leader as a junior last season has done nothing except prepare Ryan to lead his team as a senior this year and he seems ready for the challenge. Schmitz’s coming up from JV to a Varsity leader has been a long road with a lot of hard work. However, Ryan said his game really began to change when he joined Crofton Country Club. “Once I became a member at Crofton, this gave me an opportunity to work with a lot of Division I golfers and improve my game,” Schmitz said. Ryan expects nothing short of a successful season because of his hard work and experience at Crofton so far; and believes he will win a lot of his matches, hopefully leading the team to victory.

Even though the majority of the success is going to come from the players executing, a large part of the team’s success is going to be coming from the coaching aspect and how the coaches can put the players in a position to win. Ryan believes the way the coaches are going to be able to do is how the match lineups are handled, saying that “likely, the top two spots in the lineup are going to be a lock all season, so where the coaches can make a huge impact is how they handle the 3-6 spots in the lineup.” These 4 spots are a toss up between a lot of players, but Coach Schultheis says this is likely what is going to happen this year; “Ben Lindner, Ronak Patel, and Reese Tydings project as potential pairings in the top spot next to Schmitz, though there is always the chance someone else will surprise us and earn that second spot in the lineup.” If these three players can make an improvement in their play, it will drastically change the dynamic of the match slotting, for the good. 

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For the players to improve, they will have to routinely work on the areas of their games that let them down in pressure situations. For many of the players, this happens in the short game.

Another way that the coaches can make a big impact is how they learn their players’ strengths and weaknesses and being able to help their players work on those weaknesses to round out the team’s performance. For Coach Dooley and Coach Schultheis, this means that there is always room for improvement and once as coaches, they identify the player’s weakness and show the player a way to fix it, “it is up to the player to put in the time and effort on the side to work at improving.” A big reason as to why it is a big deal to put in effort outside of the team events to improve is because of how the matches are scheduled. “The matches are so compacted in the schedule that it makes changes difficult in a short period of time,” said Coach Schultheis. Because these matches are so tightly scheduled, it is difficult to get out as a team and practice often. So, practicing outside of the team practices and putting in extra work is really going to help this team win a potential championship in 2019.

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After graduating just one senior, the Varsity Golf Team returns a number of experienced MIAA players.

Getting out and practicing outside of team practices can only help and that is why it will be a key to success this season. However, there are multiple things that will need to fall into place for this team to win the conference. Coach Schultheis expresses, “We need someone to come back from the off-season and seriously have improved their play.” If any of these players, whether it be a returning player or an incoming freshman, can step up and improve their play drastically, there is no telling what this team is capable of. If everyone can play at a high level consistently, the lineup will improve from top to bottom which will help the team win a lot of matches.

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Against some of the toughest players in the region, Ryan Schmitz held his own as the Varsity #1.

Overcoming a lot of adversity and challenging matches during the season is going to be a large part of success, says Coach Schultheis. With teams like Loyola and St. Paul’s always at the top of the league, there are going to be teams like Gilman and Calvert Hall who will be sneaky good teams to look out for. Also, do not count out Spalding or McDonogh with young teams looking to climb to the top of the conference. “Any of the teams really could make a run over the short MIAA season, but I think we can hold our own if we get the type of play Coach Dooley and I are expecting.” So, with all of these small keys to having a special season, it all revolves around the major goal of getting off to a hot start and staying hot throughout the season with everyone playing to their potential.

There have been multiple years of rebuilding for the Gaels in recent history and this could be the year where things change for the team. If everyone plays to their potential consistently, this year could be a special way to leave the program for the seniors and a great way to start or continue a varsity career for the underclassmen. Expectations are running high from both perspectives of the coaches and players and now only one question remains. Is an MIAA conference championship in store for the 2019 Golf Gaels? Only time will tell, but certainly, there is reason to be hopeful this season.

In a match against Calvert Hall, played at Eagle’s Nest Country Club, Ryan Schmitz found himself in a small stream on the 10th hole. That didn’t stop him from hitting up just off the green with his second shot.

D60A6C3F-10A2-4F33-B3EC-9DDFCF296545Mike Gourley is a senior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Spring Sports Preview: MSJ Golf

This season for the St. Joe Varsity Golf Team is almost a fresh start for the program.  With only three returning players, many slots were open for new and experienced people. Seven more players, three of whom are new to the program, and a new assistant coach (our own Mr. Schultheis), were added to the squad roster.

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Junior Pat Broussard leads the St. Joe Varsity Golf Team in the MIAA.
“The key returning players this year are junior Patrick Broussard, seniors Peter Schultz and Matt Hess. The newest member of the squad that has been consistently posting low scores is Senior Max Rogers,” says head coach, Mr. Mike Dooley.

Coach Dooley also says, “I am very happy to have Coach Ed Schultheis join the program this year. He has blended into all the coaching aspects and has been a real benefit to me.  We get along very well.  He has a great feel for interacting with our players and coaches.”

There is a definite buzz going around due to the fact that there is a freshman on varsity this year.  Since there are no sophomores on the varsity team, there is a big age gap between all the other players and him.  But, he has turned out to be a solid performer on the course so far for the team.  I also asked Coach Dooley about his thoughts with having a freshman on the varsity team.

“I am fine with a freshman, Ronak Patel, being on the varsity team.  I have had freshmen in other seasons.  He has earned his spot on the roster just like the other nine members of our team.”

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Freshmen Ronak Patel hopes to make a sizable contribution to the Varsity Golf squad for the 2016 season.
Now, what everyone wants to know is whether or not the team can make a title run.  In my own opinion, I think that the team can win a title in the window of the next three years. The reason I say this is because, the team has a solid set of juniors that have played competitively for the past 1 to 2 years on the JV level. Those players consist of Matt Lamm, Sam Robertson, Jay Davis, and Nick Crabbs.  The team also have two solid sophomores, Matt Cunningham and Ryan Hockstra, who hope to lead JV to a good season record. Finally, two freshmen, Ben Lindner, who will playing on the JV level this season, and Ronak Patel,  both of whom hope to win a title in their time here.  Coach Dooley also said that he is looking forward to having about seven incoming freshman who are committed to the program next year.

“It will be very challenging for us to make a run for the title. The ‘A’ Conference in the MIAA is the best golf conference in the state.  There are several teams returning many quality players,” Coach Dooley says. “I am confident that our team will try its best in each and every match.  We will have to play our absolute best to compete with the best teams in the conference.”

As we enter the new spring sports season at MSJ, the golf team is ready for the season and is hungry for a championship! The first match of the season is April 4, against McDonogh, at Rolling Road.

Follow the Golf Team all season on Twitter at @GaelsGolf.