NAUGATUCK — On Tuesday, Hop Brook Golf Course was the site of a first ever girls golf tournament for Naugatuck Valley League schools.
The Greyhounds Girls Invitational featured 12 players, five NVL schools, and a player from New Milford, too.
There have been girls players in the NVL before, especially at the city public schools, but full teams? No. And a girls-only event? Never.
“I did some research through the CIAC golf program and I saw that there are 54 teams for girls varsity golf,” Hop Brook pro and Naugatuck High golf coach Bob Clark said. “It is important to get this off the ground. As a coach and a pro, I am looking to develop the game of golf. This is a way to enhance the game.”
Both the Greyhounds and St. Paul have full teams. The NVL isn’t ready yet to welcome golf as a full-fledged varsity member, but a step in that direction was taken Tuesday.
“This is a great experience,” Naugatuck sophomore Abi Pruchnicki said. “Last year, we had a team of mostly boys. They were older, and it was a little intimidating. We would play every day. We never got in a match. We all had fun, but at the end of the day you want to have a competitive match and we are finally able to do that.”
Pruchnicki is a pioneer, and she knows it.
“I hope more girls get into it,” she said, “and be part of something that could be bigger someday.”
St. Paul senior Julia Dolce won medalist honors with a 50, and she teamed with Alyssa Daly to take the team best ball crown with a score of 48.
“I think it is amazing that we have enough girls to do this,” Dolce said. “We barely had anyone on our team last year and now we have nine girls at St. Paul.”
Naugatuck’s team of Samantha Royka and Madison Brink finished third with a 54. Naugatuck’s Francesca Spino teamed up with Torrington’s Aubrie Dell’Agnese to tie for fourth with a 55. Pruchnicki and Mia Rotatori scored a 58 to finish sixth.
The one giant leap is still ahead, helped by the decision to tack on a girls-only tournament to the NVL golf championship on June 2 at Watertown Golf Club.