John Tandberg ’21
After missing the entire spring season due to COVID-19, Woodberry’s Varsity Golf Team has returned. The team’s roster consists of mainly returning players, many of whom played multiple junior tournaments in their local areas and have improved significantly since the last team event, the Spring Break trip to Sea Island, Georgia. The players are extremely motivated to return this year into Prep League competition and fight for their third straight State Championship and tenth out of twelve Prep League Titles. The returning players feel there is unfinished business and were extremely excited to get back on the course.
Some of that unfinished business can be taken care of this fall. Since golf can be played socially distanced, the fall golf team has been given the green light to schedule matches against other independent schools. The season began this past Friday, against St. Anne’s Belfield.
After three qualifying rounds, played during heavy rain and on aerated greens, the roster for the first match was set, and the Tigers prepared to face STAB. The roster had five returning players in sixth-formers Benny Haggin and John Tandberg, fifth formers Turner Edwards, Bennet Perry, and Coops Cooper, with the last spot taken by fourth-former Graham Roberts, making his first appearance on the Varsity squad.
On that Friday, with sixth formers John Robinson and Meade Seay on the call for WFSPN, the Tigers teed off against STAB with a shotgun start, where all players began at the same time on different holes. The Saints brought an extra three golfers, allowing the three remaining players on the fall golf team, William Andrews, Logan McNabb, and Griffin Warlow, all fourth formers, to play an exhibition round. The Tigers played strongly from the start and didn’t slow down, beating STAB by a commanding margin of 17 shots. The top four scores were a 33, from Haggin, a 34 from his partner Cooper, a 35 from Edwards, and a 39, coming from both Perry and Tandberg.
From that point on, Woodberry would have four more matches, including a rematch against STAB. The next match was played against Trinity Episcopal School on the following Friday where strong winds made it challenging on the Tigers, which included six balls that went out of bounds and overall high scores. Sixth former Benny Haggin was once again the medalist with a score of 36 after finishing strong with a birdie-birdie-birdie finish after a triple bogey on the first, with other notable scores coming from John Tandberg and Bennet Perry, coming in with a 37 and a 39 respectively. The match ended up being very close with Woodberry winning only by two against the Titans as the tough conditions created high scores.
Following the win against TES and being 2-0, Mr. Hogan and the coaches at STAB wanted to have a different format for their rematch the following Tuesday, having their own twist on a Ryder Cup-style four-ball match with four points possible to win in every four-ball pairing. The Tigers won in a commanding fashion over the Saints with a 23.5-7.5 win in what Mr. Hogan said was due to the superior depth that the roster has.
The fourth match was against Trinity Christian School in Fairfax. The team was not very experienced upon arriving at the forest. Having nine players on their roster, the two teams managed to play all of their players, contradictory to the normal six with three playing an exhibition/qualifier. It ended with a resounding 187-262 win over the northern visitors as sixth-former John Tandberg, fifth former Winslow Newton, playing in his first match since joining the team earlier in the week after being a coach during intramurals, and fourth former Logan McNabb all tied for medalist honors with 37 with Coops Copper and Bennet Perry both rounded up the scores with both firing a 38.
The match against St. Christopher’s School, what is considered to be one of the tiger’s biggest competition in the prep league in golf, was a fierce one as it came down to the wire when the scores ended up with a tie at 153 strokes. The Tigers’ fifth former Turner Edwards, a consistent top four-member, was absent at the match, leaving one of the younger guys to step up. Benny Haggin returned to the medalist position as he tied with Gibson Bowles of the Saints with a one-under round of 34. Coops Cooper also pitched in with a score of 38 with a surprising putter issue, normally being one of the better putters on the team.
The Tigers ended their season with a match against the defending VISAA Division III champions VERITAS as the battle of the state champions occurred on a very wet golf course after seeing around 4 inches of rain in the week. With the condition of the course, there was uncertainty about whether or not the match would take place. But, thanks to the excellent work done by the maintenance crew at the forest, the Tigers were able to take the course and earn their final victory of the season. Scoring was not as low as the tigers wanted as the wet conditions made it difficult for the golfers, but Woodberry’s golf team still earned the win. Benny Haggin finished his season with another 36 as he finished the season with a scoring average of 35.2, if the season were to count as an official season, it would break Peter Knade’s season scoring record of 35.61 placed in 2016. The team finished undefeated with five wins and one tie, and although the tie was disappointing and most players did not score the numbers they wanted to, the fall season serves as a great indicator of the tigers’ potential for the spring, and also the areas to work on in their games.
The team will finish the fall with an individual competition at the Michael Breed Invitational at Independence GC in Midlothian, outside of Richmond on the weekend of the 7th and 8th of November. The tigers will be put in pairings within the team to be as socially distanced as possible in the event, it will be two 18 hole rounds to give one final chance for the tigers to play in the fall, although it is individual, the team will still travel down as a group and spend most of the weekend down at Midlothian, competing and supporting the rest of their teammates one final time before the Thanksgiving break.