BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — The Niskayuna golf team was supposed to have to wait another year before it experienced success. Head coach Ben Smith’s team entered the 2015 season without a single senior on its roster, and seemed slated for another rebuilding year.
That idea, though, didn’t fly with the Silver Warriors.
“We’ve gone into every match with the same mentality: that we can win,” junior Michael Doxie said before a recent match.
And, Niskayuna’s positive thinking has extended into solid play on the area’s courses. The Silver Warriors were 9-4 in Suburban Council matches, with eight of those wins coming consecutively after an 0-2 start to the season.
Smith said his squad’s commitment to the sport is what made such a successful season possible for the relatively green group of freshmen, sophomores and juniors.
“They’re all young, but they’re all golf geeks,” Smith said. “They love being around this, and, really, that’s what you need.”
While the Silver Warriors were not cool with waiting a year to become a contender in the Suburban Council, they take no issue with their coach calling them “golf geeks.” They embrace it; the team’s players and coach even have a text message chain used to keep up with each other’s progress on the fairways and greens, both during the season and offseason.
“So, yeah, you could say we’re golf nerds,” said Tyler Gregory, a sophomore on the team. “Whenever I have a good round, I’m texting.”
The toughest aspect to coaching this year’s squad, Smith said, is also the best thing about the team. The team’s top players are nearly impossible to sort out into a lineup because of how evenly they play; heading into the team’s Oct. 1 home match against CBA at the Mohawk Golf Club, Smith said the team’s top-10 players had averages ranging from 42.33 to 44.69.
“That [depth] is the best thing about them as a group,” Smith said.
“We all played a lot over the summer, too, and got better throughout the year,” Gregory said. “A lot of us have had three-, four-stroke differences [in our averages] in the past year.”
Niskayuna finished its league season in the upper half of teams. With all of its talent available to return for 2016, the expectations for next year are sky-high.
“This year is a build-up year for us, and next year we’ll be a real threat against everyone,” Doxie said.
“Next year,” Gregory added, “we should be in the top three in the section.”