Hawks preach patience, progress on the course

BEACON FALLS — Golf is a game of patience and fundamentals. That’s never been more accurate for Woodland golf coach Bill Carangelo and his young Hawks this spring.

Woodland, whose team includes one junior and one sophomore with six freshmen, is in a rebuilding year during which the early-season focus has been on the basics of the game.

“It’s going to be a slow, developmental year,” Carangelo said. “We’re rebuilding the program. Nobody’s broken 50 yet, but I suspect (Tom Conroy) and Mark (Barbarito) will soon because their games are starting to come around. They’re all young players.”

The Hawks opened the season with a 1-2 start in match play, including a 193-249 loss to Watertown at Crestbrook Park April 24. Conroy, a junior, led Woodland with a 53 while three other rookies rounded out the scoring with Barbarito firing a 56, Skylar DeFazio a 63 and Jackson Bradley a 69.

Carangelo said he’s happy with the progress that his top players have made throughout the first month.

“Tom is the captain and he’s been helping out everyone,” Carangelo said. “Mark Barbarito hits the ball pretty well. Skylar DeFazio is really hitting the ball well and her strokes are coming down. The other guys are working on their swings and trying to keep the ball in play.”

The coach also thinks his eight-player squad wants to do what it takes to get better. He’s encouraged them to take additional golf lessons outside of the school’s team, and several of them have followed that advice.

“It’s about getting the kids to play on their own,” Carangelo said. “Our parents have been very supportive. A lot of the freshmen are signed up for lessons, so their parents are behind them.”

The slow early-season performances by the Hawks and several other teams in the Naugatuck Valley League are one reason Carangelo thinks the state should consider moving the golf season to the fall. He says that poor conditions in the preseason and frequent rain in April hinder the development of players, and they end up being thrown onto the competitive course without much preparation.

“We’ve lost a lot of practice time with the rain,” Carangelo said. “It’s a great argument for moving this to the fall. Not only would the play be more competitive, but you don’t have to deal with the rain in April. School’s out June 12, the Catholic schools are out earlier, and we have to reschedule all these matches.”

Woodland will face Naugatuck and Seymour in matches next week before the Hawks host their annual Woodland Invitational on Thursday at Oxford Greens.