By Bob York
It was a season to remember as well as a season for remembering.
This year’s rendition of Big Green golf has plenty to remember from this spring: a 16-1 regular-season record, capturing the Andover Invitational, and finishing third at the Kingswood Invitational Tournament. And all the while, remembering a teammate—Izzy Marley—who was tragically killed in a golf cart accident back in her native country of Jamaica the week before school opened.
“Izzy’s death really hit the whole school hard, but it hit her teammates particularly hard,” said Nick Albertson, the Deerfield golf coach. “And I know there wasn’t a day that went by this entire school year that they didn’t think of her.”
“Izzy had a bright future in golf,” added Albertson of Marley, who was a member of the Jamaican National Women’s Team. She was also one of the elite girls her age to play the game in New England, too, as she won the Pippy O’Connor Independent School Girls Golf Championship as a sophomore and placed second as a junior. “She would have definitely played collegiately on the Division I level.”
But more than that, “she was an outstanding young woman,” added Albertson. “Izzy always had a smile on her face and I think that it’s that smile I’ll remember most about her.”
Although Deerfield rang up a 16-1 record during regular-season play, its season didn’t begin on the best of scenarios, however, as its lone loss came during its opener. “We lost that one to Williston … and we lost it by a single stroke,” remembered Albertson.
But from then on, the only thing that was able to slow down the Big Green was Mother Nature, as it had three matches washed out by rain. “It was a tough year for battling the elements,” admitted Albertson, “as we played three other matches in the rain and ended up playing just two all season long in the sunshine.”
The highlight of the season came at the Newport R.I. Country Club, where Deerfield captured its second Andover Invitational title in the four years of its existence. The Big Green ran away with the contest, as it finished off the competition in 310 strokes. Tabor was a distant second at 324, while Exeter and Taft concluded at 327 and 328 respectively.
Individually, Deerfield’s David Buoymaster ’13 and James Park ’13, who were both elected co-captains of next year’s team, finished atop the tourney field at 76. Buoymaster took home medalist honors, however, when he won a “chipoff,” as opposed to a playoff. “Due to time constraints, they had the players go back out on the fairway and chip onto the 18th green again and see who ended up coming closest to the pin,” said Albertson. “And David ended up winning as his chip ended up about six feet from the hole.”
Pat Hilbert ’11, who highlighted his regular-season play with a hole-in-one on the third hole at Crumpin Fox during the final match of the regular season, finished two strokes off the pace in the Andover tourney with a 78, while Josh Kim ’14 finished at 80.
The Big Green, which had won three of the past six Kingswood-Oxford titles, was hoping to defend its crown, but as Albertson would say, “it just didn’t turn out to be our day.” Deerfield carded a third-place finish out of a 23-team field with a final swing count of 404, just two strokes behind Avon (402) and 14 back from the champions, Kingswood-Oxford (390).
Individually, Park, who led the team this spring with an average of 38.22 strokes per nine holes, finished fifth in the Kingswood tourney with a 75, while Kim, who owned a 39.89 average per nine holes, was sixth with a 76. Dan Blohm carded an 82, while Buoymaster and Hilbert finished at 84 and 87 respectively.
It is certain that Marley’s legacy will live on throughout New England, as the officials of the Pippy O’Connor tournament have dedicated an award in her memory. In honor of Marley, this award will be presented annually to a female student who has shown dedication to academics, sports, and volunteering, as well as a devotion to family, school, and team and possesses qualities of honesty and compassion.
Marley, who would have been a senior this year and had been elected one of the team’s co-captains last spring, was also named winner of this year’s Jerry Daly ’72 Golf Award. Its inscription reads: “This award is given annually to an exceptional golfer who consistently demonstrated passion, commitment, dedication, and sportsmanship to the game of golf. Like Jerry Daly, those named on this trophy displayed integrity, quiet confidence, embodied the true spirit of the game, and as a result, had a significant impact on teammates.”
Bob York is a Greenfield Recorder wire editor. His email address is email@example.com.