NHS Golf Looks Back At A Strong 2022 Season
Published: November 9th, 2022
By: Morgan Golliver

NHS Golf looks back at a strong 2022 season The 2022 Norwich Purple Tornado Golf Team. (Photo by Morgan Golliver)

NORWICH - There is no doubt that the Norwich golf team was impressive this 2022 season. From hitting the ball hard to being consistent, the team of young talent achieved a second place finish at sectionals and their lowest team score since 2018 of a 231 vs Sus Valley this season.

The Purple Tornado also won the STAC East Division with a 6-0 record and went 9-2 overall with close losses to Union-Endicott and Chenango Forks.

Leading the crew was sophomore Julien Smith with the lowest stroke average on the team of a 9. He earned the team’s most improved award and also made Central/East All Conference.

Coach David Branham looks to see more improvement from Julien, who received lessons from Branham during his youth as an Oxford student.

Jacob Dowdall was selected as most valuable this season for his commitment in all functions and showing Branham that he is a very complementary person who encourages other players.

Dowdall competed with Smith all season, but finished behind him and Jacob Morris (10.57) with a stroke average of 10.75.

Story Continues Below Adverts

Coach Branham gives credit to his team for being consistent in their putting and bettering their stroke average. The stroke average ranged from a 9 to the highest of a 12.4 from senior Logan Waters.

“The team hit the ball better than any team I’ve ever had from the teeing ground. They strike the ball terrific. They love to practice with the driver and love to practice with the clubs that hit the ball far,” Branham said. “It’s fun to hit it far, but they don’t practice the short game enough of chipping and putting.”

Branham will continue to work with his players on the short game, but it all comes with practice.

“Once they get it, they’re going to be amazing,” he said. “They’re getting there but are so fancy and want to hit the highest and softest shot and back it up. Golf is not a fancy game. Just have to hit it, get it on the green, and make the putt.”

This year, the team’s starting eight were Jacob Dowdall, Jacob Morris, Aiden Stafford, Braden Reid, Julien Smith, Logan Waters, Carmine Pastore, and Matthew Brunick. These players performed well in the STAC qualifiers at the beginning of the season to prove themselves worthy at the varsity level. The others who didn’t make it were not discouraged because they still had chances to play.

Branham noticed very quickly how young Matthew Brunick was. As a seventh grader, Brunick stood out from his strong passion in the sport.

“He doesn’t hit the ball very far, but does well on a nice, dry course,” Branham said. “Towards the end of the season, we had a few wet courses where the length of the course hurt him, but he is going to be very good in the future.”

Matthew also earned Rookie of the Year for his noble efforts this season, especially for his hard work ethic and not wanting to go home. Branham is sure Matt can be found at the Canasawacta Country Club in his spare time.

Matt’s brother Michael is also on the team, where together, Branham applauds the brothers' striking natural ability in their golf game.

“ He (Michael) is always smiling and happy,” Branham said. “He knows how to forget the past when it comes to a bad shot. He immediately puts that past him and keeps smiling.”

Carmine Pastore is another player full of young talent and potential. He is known to spend quality time at MountainTop golf course in Sherburne, where Branham is sure he is putting in practice as well.

“Carmine was a fast-favorite of mine. He is very quiet, willing to listen, and isn’t so stubborn when asked to use the pitching wedge to chip and putt,” he said. “He was my go-to guy when the length of the courses got to Brunick.”

Branham also appreciates Brayden Adoff and Kaiden Vidler for their ability to hit the ball far this season.

Story Continues Below Adverts

“Adoff is so much stronger this year as he hit the ball 200 to 225 yards compared to only 100 last year,” Branham said. “Vidler is a hard hitter where his ball travels a mile and straight, but I scolded him all year long that there are other clubs besides the driver. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit it, it matters how many times you hit it to the hole.”

That’s something Branham hopes can come from his youngsters by simply “trial and error.”

“Golf is a funny thing. You really need to put the time in on your own too. They have all the tools and things that they need, they hit the ball terrific. They need to go and do it and put themselves out there and compete,” he said. “I think the Norwich team fails in competition and big wins because they don’t perform their best. They put a lot of pressure on themselves and are too careful.”

Branham would like to see his team relax and have more fun than think about a bad shot and have it ruin their whole game. In fact, he gives them four to five seconds to calm down and forget about it.

Jackson Sastri and Troy Schack truly have their share of love for the game of golf.

“Sastri is more of a baseball buff, but he shows massive passion and grinds so hard. I truly admire his perseverance the most,” Branham said. “Schack is a brand new golfer this year, but he’s figuring it out quick and loves it.”

Branham could go on and on about his team and their abilities. He knows his team is talented, where Branham desperately wants to win Sectionals.

“I just want Class B so bad,” he said. “They deserve it and are good enough to get it. But, I am 95 percent confident we will win the division again.”

Norwich will remain a young, but experienced team next season with only losing seniors Logan Waters and Ethan Guzewich.

With five of six top golfers set to return, Norwich has high hopes for seasons to come. But, players need to put in the time and effort to continue their skills in the offseason.

Branham mentioned that there are multiple ways to keep in shape.

The Canasawacta Country Club is offering golf simulation for the second year but it comes at a cost for players. Branham said if they pay for the time, he will show up and help them. There is also the dome at the Turning Stone, which Branham recommends as well.

If cost is a burden for players and their families, Branham said going outside is the best option.

“Golf is easy. You know what you have to do. It’s one grip, one stance, one swing for every club, where the length is the only thing that changes,” he said. “ Go outside and practice. Sometimes just practicing gripping the club thousands of times is even enough.”

Following the end of the season, the Norwich golf team handed out team awards, while some received STAC all-star honors.

Team Awards:

Most Valuable:Jacob Dowdall

Rookie of the Year: Matthew Brunick

Coaches Award: Aiden Stafford

Most Improved: Julien Smith

Story Continues Below Adverts

STAC All-Stars:

Central/East Conference: Julien Smith

East All Division: Jacob Morris, Jacob Dowdall, Braden Reid, and Aiden Stafford.

Congratulations to the 2022 Norwich Purple Tornado golf team.