Manhasset boys golf uses togetherness and chemistry to win county, LIC titles

Manhasset boys golf uses togetherness and chemistry to win county, LIC titles
The Manhasset boys golf team celebrates with the Long Island Championship trophy after winning it for the first time since 2018. Photo courtesy of Manhasset H.S.

The plan was always set up the day before, but there was always a plan.

Sometimes, it was pizza from Umberto’s or Gino’s. Other times, it was Chick-fil-A, Shake Shack, or tacos.

But every day for the entire spring season of practices, the Manhasset boys golf team, after finishing driving, chipping and putting, would sit around as a group and have dinner together.

Sometimes it was in the parking lot of Plandome Country Club or North Hempstead CC. Sometimes it was at someone’s house.

But the group of six “starters” on the team always ate together, with someone’s Mom or Dad being the delivery driver.

“We really stepped it up with the unity this year, more than before,” said junior Jaden Cheng. “Just sitting around and talking about life, about being a team, busting on each other, all of it. That’s my favorite memory from this year.”

That unity, that togetherness, may have helped Manhasset have its best golf season in a long time. Using a combination of experienced players like Cheng, senior Alex Gore and junior Evan Fulgieri, and junior Justin Yemm, and the influx of baby-faced seventh-graders Ethan Yao and Ryan Liu, the school captured the Nassau County crown, edging out Friends Academy by two strokes.

Then, on May 28, Manhasset put an exclamation point on this fabulous season by crushing Suffolk champ Ward Melville, 8-1, winning by a total of 59 strokes, to capture its first LI championship since 2018.

“These kids go home and practice after practice: they all want to get better so badly,” said head coach Michael Tarnowski. “And from day one everyone was motivated and got along so well.”

The season began with the Manhasset crew getting their first looks at Yao and Liu, whom several team members and Tarnowski had heard about over the last few years.

After the first day of tryouts, Tarnowski said he was approached by Cheng.

“Holy crap, these boys are really really good!” Tarnowski recalled with a laugh. “Everyone was excited about their potential.”

“Those kids from the first day, weren’t intimidated by anything,” Gore said. “Ethan especially, that kid has some swag to him. He doesn’t take anything from anyone, he’ll talk nonsense to anyone. He had no trouble fitting in, neither he nor Ryan.”

Fulgieri said he welcomed the mentor role this season; he was frequently paired up with Yao during practices and matches.

“I wanted to try to help him as much as I could, on and off the course,” Fulgieri said. “But honestly I learned just as much from him as he did from me, I think.”

As the season progressed, Tarnowski had an inkling this could be a special group. With Fulgieri bombing drives off the tee and the great short game of several others, “I thought we definitely had a chance.”

At the county match, Manhasset pulled it out by just two strokes over Friends, 754-756, with a par by Fulgieri on 18 clinching the win.

At the LIC, held at the notoriously difficult Bethpage Black, Manhasset just ran away with it. Liu shot a 4-over 75, Yao shot a 9-over 80, and the whole team played well to win it.

“(Liu) shooting a 75 on the Black course, that was one of the most phenomenal rounds of golf I’ve ever seen,” Gore said. “For a kid who drives it like 250 yards, on a 7,500-yard course, to shoot that well was incredible.”

“It was 100% the result of the work we put into it,” Fulgieri added.

After the LIC win, both Fulgieri and Gore competed in the state championships on June 3 and 4 in Elmira, with Fulgieri placing 33rd and Gore 40th.

With most of the team back for next year, the Manhasset players know there could be more hardware in store.

And you can bet those post-practice dinners will continue, too.

“It’s been a great year and I know I enjoyed every minute of coaching these kids,” Tarnowski said.


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