By BOB YORK
Their swing was fine; it was their timing that was off – like about a year off.
For the first time since 2004, Deerfield Academy didn’t win the Kingswood-Oxford Invitational Golf Tournament when the calendar year ended in an even number.
With that one exception, it proved to be a rather typical season for the Big Green, no matter what the year. It finished its regular season with a 22-3 record and earned some hardware, too. In addition to finishing a very respectable third out of a 23-team field in the Kingswood tourney, it captured the Andover Invitational at the Newport (R.I.) Country Club for the second year in a row.
As for the Kingswood tourney, which comes as close to a New England showdown as you’re probably ever going to get, “everybody was on their A game that day,” said Nick Albertson, the Big Green golf coach. “It was one of the most competitive Kingswood tournaments I’ve ever seen.”
As Albertson pointed out, Avon Old Farms, this year’s winning team, finished with a score of 380, the lowest winning team score since a 375 won the title back in 2004. “In fact, when we finished first in 2010, we won with a 395.” And the same could be said of Deerfield’s other titles. In 2008, it won at 391, while a 395 did the trick in 2006. Even Deerfield’s first crown, back in 2000, was way off this year’s pace at 395.
Deerfield finished its day at Kingswood with a 387, seven strokes off Avon’s pace and just one stroke behind Taft’s 386. On the bright side, Loomis missed out on a trip to the podium when it wound up fourth, just one stroke (388) behind the Big Green.
Individually, James Park (13), who topped the team’s charts when it came to the average number of strokes (38.42) it took him to cover a distance of nine holes this spring, led the Deerfield effort, as he finished fourth with a 72, while Josh Kim (14) wound up ninth with a 73. Last year, Park finished fifth at 75, while Kim was sixth at 76, as Deerfield finished third in the team ledger as well – but a year ago, it took the Big Green 17 more strokes (404) to do so.
Dan Blohm (13) was next in line at KO, with a 78, as David Buoymaster (13) carded an 80. Sam Lafferty (14), who was the recipient of this year’s Jerry Daly ’72 Memorial Golf Award, closed out the Deerfield effort with an 84.
As for the Andover tourney, which the Big Green captured with a final stroke count of 331, it bested Taft (334) by just thee swings, while Loomis wound up third at 339. Individually, Park placed third in the final standings with an 81, while Lafferty was right on his heels at 82. The flag on the 18th green, meanwhile, could have pretty well covered the remainder of Deerfield’s crew, as Buoymaster and Blohm, who averaged 42.13 and 40.04 strokes per nine holes this spring respectively, both finished at 84. Kim, meanwhile, rounded out the field with an 86.
Deerfield also had its GPS working on all cylinders during a five-team tourney at Hotchkiss, where it finished second to Avon – by a single stroke. The Winged Beavers carded a 196, while the Big Green closed out at 197. Hotchkiss finished third at 201. Lafferty, who was second on the team to Park in average strokes per nine holes at a 38.85 clip, was the medalist on the day with a torrid 34. In fact, none of his teammates could even stay close to their teammate on this day, as Cam O’Connell (13), Kim and Buoymaster all carded 40s. Park collected a 43, and Blohm finished with a 44.
Looking to the future, if Albertson and his crew are to ever break into the win column at the Kingswood-Oxford tourney during an odd-numbered year, next year could be the year to do it. And that’s because all six players from this year’s squad will be reporting for duty next spring.
“The kids competed on a high level this season,” said Albertson, “and they had to … it was a very competitive field out there this season and it’s only going to become more competitive. These kids are up to it, though. They showed that by the way they played all season long.”
As for next year, maybe ’13 will be a lucky number for the Big Green when it fills out its entry form for the Kingswood-Oxford tourney.