St. Rose golfers' 'friendly competition' pushes each toward greatness
By Rich Fisher | Correspondent
It’s not going to matter who the St. Rose of Belmar golf team plays this year, senior Pat Gates and junior Jared Scheininger are going to have severe competition in every match. That’s what happens when two of the state’s best golfers are on the same team.
“We strive to beat each other but if one of us loses and the other one does better we’re happy for him,” Pat said. “We’re really good friends. We push each other a lot. It helps us and the team.”
The two became friends in Scheininger’s freshman year, when Gates was a sophomore. “I drive him to tournaments,” Pat said. “We play together in summer and have a lot of fun.”
Competitive fun, that is.
“We definitely push each other on the course for sure,” Jared said. “We are good friends outside of golf. But the friendship definitely makes an impact on how we play together and how we do on the course. It’s definitely a friendly competition.”
The competition reached its zenith last May at Ewing Township’s Mountain View Golf Course, when the two had to play a three-hole playoff in the South Jersey Non-Public B Championship. Each shot 81 after regulation and each bogeyed the first two playoff holes. Playing Hole 18 for the third straight time, Gates bogeyed and Scheininger parred to take the title.
“That was a little weird, but I thought it was a lot of fun,” Gates said. “It was into the wind, the hole was crazy. It was a 410-yard hole into 30 miles per hour wind. He made a great putt, too. I’m really happy for him.”
The two could very well end up in the same spot again this year; although so could any of their teammates the way things are shaping up this season. St. Rose is gunning for its seventh straight South Jersey sectional championship and has a talented team from top to bottom.
“Our team stroke average coming out of preseason is less than within four shots of each other,” Coach Robert Connelley said. “They compete individually for that low average, always pushing each other.”
The two friends will set the tone for the team, as Connelley feels they showed up for preseason better than ever.
“Their games are extremely solid and they just have passion for golf,” he said. “Success for the team is No. 1 and individual success is secondary.
“Their games have improved from last year: solid with really no weakness. They’re more consistent now and I’m just hoping they can continue that.”
Gates, a parishioner of St. Catherine, Spring Lake, started playing golf earlier than Scheininger and hit the links as a youngster with his uncle. But he didn’t take the game seriously until the summer after eighth grade.
Gates averaged 41 for nine holes as a freshman, improved to 39 as a sophomore and 37 last year. He finished third in the Shore Conference Tournament, carding a 73 at Charleston Springs South, Millstone, and shot an 84 in the Tournament of Champions at Hopewell Valley Golf Club.
A member of Spring Lake Golf Club, where he also caddies, Gates has won the Spring Lake Junior Club championship three straight years. He also owns a victory on the NJPGA tour, and hopes to golf in college next year.
Asked to analyze his teammate, Scheininger said “I would assess Pat as a kid who can make up and down from anywhere on the course. His short game is crazy good and he’s such a good putter. His mental game is good, too.”
Scheininger, a St. Rose parishioner, did not pick up a club until the summer before ninth grade. He, too, was ready to give up baseball but wasn’t specifically planning on playing golf.
“I just went to the range and started hitting balls, and I was like ‘Wow, I probably want to get good at this,’ and I just started playing from there,” he said. “I didn’t break 100 my first time out, but it was better than I thought I was gonna do. Everyone was like, ‘This is the hardest thing on the face of the earth.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I can tell just from hitting balls.’ But it was fun and I enjoyed it a ton and just wanted to keep doing it.”
He averaged 44 for nine holes as a freshman before blossoming as a sophomore. Scheininger averaged 37, finished second with a 76 in a tournament at Blue Heron Pines, Galloway Township, and shot a 79 to finish tied for seventh in the NJSIAA Non-Public B tournament. He also plays in numerous NJPGA and IJGT events.
Gates noted that if you go against Scheininger on a day when he’s feeling it, everyone else is playing for second.
“When he’s hot, he’s really hot, that’s how I would describe him,” Gates said. “And when he’s cold he still can put up good numbers, it’s crazy. He hits the ball a mile with his driver.”
Scheininger low keys his driving ability, saying “I hit the ball pretty well off the tee, but the strength of my game is probably my wedges and my iron troughs. I can make putts and my short game is pretty good, too.”[[In-content Ad]]