The Mattituck Tuckers are a rather laidback group of golfers who seem to handle pressure well. Then again, perhaps that is why the Tuckers have won three straight league championships.
“They’re so laidback,” said Paul Ellwood, the former junior varsity coach who has taken over the varsity coaching duties from Jim Underwood. “I think that’s why they’re so good. They don’t put a lot of pressure on themselves.”
The Tuckers are 33-3 over the past three years, during which time they earned those consecutive Suffolk County League VII titles.
Ellwood said the Eastport/South Manor Sharks, who split matches with the Tuckers last season, have the inside track on the league crown this year because of the number of returning players they have. But the Tuckers have some talent, too, led by Morgan Gildersleeve, a senior all-league player who has been on the team since she was an eighth-grader.
“She’s a tremendous golfer,” Ellwood said. “I’ve been watching her since seventh grade. The game comes to her pretty easy, and she’s always there around par. She stays out of trouble. She hits fairways and greens. It’s a simple formula.”
And a winning one.
The rest of the lineup is back, too: freshman Will Gildersleeve, freshman Rich Corazzini, sophomore Brad Tyler, senior Luke Bugdin and sophomore Eric Olsen.
“I think the kids expect to be competitive.,” Ellwood said. “You’re three-time defending champ, so the other teams are definitely going to be focused. We had a lot of kids who played exhibition last year, but they’re unproven.”
The Tuckers will play their home matches on the par-35 front nine at the North Fork County Club in Cutchogue. It has been a friendly course to the Tuckers over the years.
“I think we’ll be pretty tough at home on our home course,” Ellwood said. “It’s just going to be a matter of how we do on the road.”
What would constitute a successful season?
“It’s pretty simple,” Ellwood said. “It’s a numbers game. If each player’s numbers go down from beginning to end, you’ll say it’s a successful season.”
The Greenport/Southold Clippers (7-5) have a younger team than they did last year, but young is good, said Coach Dave Fujita. As Fujita knows, youth has potential for growth.
Not that the Clippers didn’t do well last year. By virtue of their winning record, the Clippers were able to send all six of their starters to the county tournament this past May.
Kyle Clausen, a senior who held the No. 3 spot last year, leads the way. Right behind him was David O’Day, who is a junior. Those two, along with improved sophomore Robert Anderson, are competing for the top three spots.
Zach DePaulis, a senior, is also a returning starter.
Three sophomores — Brian Tuthill, Tim Stankewicz and Rob Mahony — are moving up from the junior varsity team.
“They’re anxious to learn,” Fujita said. “Course management is going to be key, not taking yourself out of holes, always leaving yourself a chance to win a match.”
“What I teach guys in the preseason is to work on their routine because when it comes down to crunch time, I want them to think about what their routine is, not the fact that they’re one down or one up, keeping their mind on what they do,” he added. “You have to develop your routine in the practices.”
The Clippers will play their home matches on the par-35 front nine at Island’s End Golf and Country Club in Greenport.
One of Fujita’s goals for the season has nothing to do with wins and losses. He said he wants his players to play smart and enjoy themselves.
“Enjoy the fact that they’re playing golf on the varsity level,” he said. “When they go off to college, I want them to look back and say that their high school days were good.”