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Florida High School Golfers Playing 2nd Season

Andy Reistetter@GolfWriter59Analyst IOctober 17, 2011

An ocean rainbow illuminates the Ponte Vedra H.S. Sharks golf team at the conclusion of the regular season.
An ocean rainbow illuminates the Ponte Vedra H.S. Sharks golf team at the conclusion of the regular season.

Golf writer Andy Reistetter lives in the golf capital of the World—Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida—home of the PGA TOUR, TPC Sawgrass and THE PLAYERS with the World Golf Hall of Fame in nearby St. Augustine. The area is fortunate to have some of the best high school golf in the country, with the Nease Panthers, Bartram Trail Bears, Ponte Vedra Sharks and Bolles Bulldogs. Here is a quick look at the upcoming postseason play.

The PGA TOUR has their playoffs for the FedEx Cup.

The state of Florida, on the other hand, has its second season starting this week.

Districts, regionals and the state high school golf championships are right around the corner.

The area around the PGA Tour headquarters at TPC Sawgrass has seen more than its fair share of state boys golf championships—both team and individual.

In fact Nease, the original high school in the area, has won a record six state team championships in boy's golf.

Nease is also tied for the most individual champions with five since the state championships began in 1927.

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Two-time PGA Tour champion Len Mattiace, while at Nease High School, won the individual state championship in 1984.

Legendary coach Lewis "Bud" Beech and the Nease high school team won five of those six state championships in a seven-year period.

Coach Molinaro (center with two raised fingers) indicates the start of the second season in Florida high school golf.
Coach Molinaro (center with two raised fingers) indicates the start of the second season in Florida high school golf.

The last championship won under Bud at the beach was in 2001, the year after Bartram Trail H.S. split from Nease.

Coach Pete Molinaro led Nease to its most recent state championship in 2007.

Coach Pete Peaver led Bartram Trail to a state championship in 2008.

Ponte Vedra High School split from Nease in 2009 with Molinaro coaching the new Sharks team.

While for the American players the Ryder Cup alternates years, members of Peaver's Bear and Molinaro's Sharks' teams play in a Ryder Cup style match to finish the regular season.

Last week the Sharks out swam the Bears 14-4 on the Ocean Course at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.

What's nice about the event is that all players on both teams compete, with everyone's performance counting.

To keep the format simple there is no alternate shot, only better ball and single match play.

With the regular season completed, the tough part of the season begins with the coaches.

"The only thing I hate about coaching golf," Molinaro explained, "is that the regular season is too short and you can't take all members of the team to the postseason."

State high school rules mandate a selection of five players and an alternate for the three tier state championship season.

Team mom Nicole Navokoski snaps a picture on closing hole.
Team mom Nicole Navokoski snaps a picture on closing hole.

For the Sharks this means the season is concluded for Andrew Ullmann, Hanks Massey, Jack Bishop, Matthew Plunkett and Tommy Anderson.

Anthony Scolapio, Chase Berlin, Kevin Slayden and Co-captains David Novakoski and Marcus Plunkett will make up the five person competitive team, with Taylor Funk as the alternate.

Time off from high school to play golf may be as good as it gets for these kids.

As good as making money playing golf on the PGA Tour?

Not exactly, as the student-athletes are responsible for insuring they make up the work missed in class.

Coach Molinaro has made one special request to his school administrators.

In the event that the team makes it to the state finals, all members of the Sharks' team will be able to attend the final day of competition.

Stay in school come Wednesday, November 2, or travel to Mission Hills Inn & Club outside of Orlando for the Boys 2A High School Golf Championship?

Of course, Bartram Trail and the other high schools may have something to say about that.

Let the state high school golf second season begin!

Additional Note:

Bolles Head Golf Coach Rick Root, coming off a runner-up finish in the 1A State Championship last year, is hoping to go the final step this year.

Seniors Tommy Anderson, Marcus Plunkett, David Novakoski with Coach Molinaro (left to right).
Seniors Tommy Anderson, Marcus Plunkett, David Novakoski with Coach Molinaro (left to right).

Senior A.J. Crouch finished T7 at the prestigious Jr. PLAYERS at TPC Sawgrass over Labor Day weekend.

As a junior Crouch won his district tournament and shot five-under par 139 in the Class 1A state tournament at Silver Springs Shores in Ocala, before losing on the first playoff hole to Collin Englehardt of Winter Park Trinity Christian.

Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer as well as a Spotter, Research and Broadcast Assistant for The Golf Channel, NBC and CBS Sports. He spends time on all four major American golf tours—the PGA TOUR, Champions, Nationwide and LPGA Tours.

Reistetter resides within two miles of the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame and THE PLAYERS while pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. He can be reached by email at AndyReistetter@gmail.com.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.

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