Coach Scott Law feels part of the reason for his team's success this year has been the bonding time it has enjoyed on the bus rides to away matches, which sometime lead to donut treats. Courtesy photo
Coach Scott Law feels part of the reason for his team's success this year has been the bonding time it has enjoyed on the bus rides to away matches, which sometime lead to donut treats. Courtesy photo

In looking at the St. Rose of Belmar girls’ golf team’s 9-2 record, coach Scott Law doesn’t just credit it to massive drives off the tee, or torrid putting skills or accurate approach shots.

He feels much of it can be explained on the bus rides to and from the matches. Suddenly, there are no cliques.  

“I chalk it up to the fact that this is the first time on the bus where there’s just one conversation,” said Law, whose program has never had a winning record but has set the school mark for wins this year. “They’re completely gelling together. I’ve got three different groups who are now melding into one. They hang out with each other off the golf course.

“They’ve really become besties. On bus rides they’re all giggling together. That’s kind of the special part of it – that they’ve really come together as one unit. It’s cool.”

And does it help?

“Absolutely!” Law exclaimed. “Golf is so mental. You’re gonna play better with a bestie next to you. Your best friend is gonna talk to you the nicest when you’re having a bad day. All of my girls have their bestie next to them; that’s just gonna help them.”

It’s hard to argue with that philosophy. Entering their May 12 match with Ranney, the Purple Roses’ only losses this season have been to undefeated Trinity Hall of Tinton Falls.

Sophomore Colleen Ragan, who Law calls “a little character,” has led the team in scoring with an average of 50. The coach noted that when most freshmen begin to play high school golf, they are playing against older competitors for the first time and there are many other first-time obstacles that can get stuck in their head.

Not so for Ragan.

“Colleen didn’t get hung up on anything last year,” Law said. “She fell right into the third spot, and after our two seniors graduated she automatically took over number one this year. She’s really got a presence. She walks the golf course like a seasoned veteran.

“She’s slight in stature, but if you saw her out there, you’d think, ‘Oh is that girl from college?’ She’s very humble but has the slightest little swagger. She’s very confident and just has a great way about her. And like all my kids, her family is amazing.”

The Roses’ second leading scorer is an interesting story. Sophomore Meghan DeLuca is averaging a 55 just one year after wanting to sit out matches because she didn’t like them. That has changed this season and DeLuca continues to improve. At the start of May, she shot three straight rounds of a career-low 51.

“I’ve had to take baby steps with her and it’s paying off,” Law said. “Her confidence is still not there, but she’s getting there. At this time last year, she wanted no part of it. She’s away right now, or I think she would have broken 50 this week. After one of her 51s she said, ‘I know I tied my best score, I know I did good, but I could have done better.’”

That wasn’t just lip service. When DeLuca got home that night, she went right back out.

“After a match, which sometimes takes forever, she wanted to go to the driving range to try to work on her game,” Law said. “This group of girls I have are kind of hooked on golf, which is a cool thing.”

And while two sophomores lead the way in scoring, Law considers juniors Clare Dolan (63 average), Brinley Dwyer (59) and Alexandra “Azzie” Irausquin (62) the heart of his team. Dolan is in her first year of playing golf and the other two started last year.

“The maturity I get with Brinley, Azzie and Clare makes them like the nucleus,” Law said. “I would be lost without those three. Up until this year, I used to have to worry a lot about forfeits and worry about not having enough girls. But this little core of three is what puts me over that threshold of always having enough and knowing that they’re gonna come to play regardless – whether it’s nice out or it’s cold and windy. They enjoy it rather than get discouraged by things, and I think it’s due to their maturity.”

In defeating Freehold Borough on May 10, St. Rose shot a program-record low of 210 and Dolan and Dwyer each carded career best scores of 46.

“Clare has a ton of athletic ability but hasn’t been able to get off the 59 or 60 mark – so to see that 46 was great,” Law said. “Brinley … has the game and the brain. She’s athletic and she’s got the size, it just hasn’t been falling together. But (against Freehold) they did. It was a wonderful day for her; hopefully it’s the first of many more.”

As for Irausquin, the game is sheer joy.

“Last year after her first match, she shot something like a 72,” Law said. “She came off the course and said to me ‘I love it and can’t wait to do it again.’”  

One other contributor is freshman Tatiana Konczyk, who is averaging 55, with a low score of 51. Knoczyk is invested in golf and plays frequently.

“She thinks she can play better, but she’s looking for her comfort zone as a freshman,” Law said. “There are some stumbling blocks she has to overcome after playing in the PGA Junior League against kids her own age. But she’s been fantastic. I think she’s gonna be something in her senior year, maybe top 50 in the state.”

And while the consistent winning is different from years past, one constant has been the Purple Roses devotion to God, as numerous members have been members of Catholic Athletes for Christ. Law says faith “is a very big part of who they are.”

As for what has turned things around where wins and losses are concerned, Law feels it was just a case of getting the girls to enjoy what they are doing.

“I’ve really tried to create a culture of nothing but fun,” he said. “I say ‘til I’m blue in the face, ‘You will not hit a good golf shot if you’re not smiling.’ I had over 40 kids show interest in golf and 30-some signed up.

“On Fridays I have a skills and development group that have allowed beginners to come on Friday and learn the game,” he continued. “That’s where Azzie and Brinley started last year, and they just took off on their own, going for lessons and everything else. It’s my job to create the spark and then let their enjoyment fuel the fire and let them go. It’s become popular at St. Rose. The feedback from the kids is that they’re having fun.”