Caroline Tamasi is hoping that her improving performances on the golf course eventually leads to the opportunity to play at the college level.
“My goal is to play golf in college, which hopefully I will be able to do,” said Tamasi, a junior at Hopewell Valley Central High School. “I know that to do that I have to keep my grades up and my scores low. I think I am on the right path.”
Tamasi has been one of the top golfers for the Hopewell Valley team this season. While playing nearly all of her matches against boys, she’s consistently been the No. 2 golfer in matches.
On Tuesday, Tamasi posted an 83, which was Hopewell Valley's second lowest score when the Bulldogs finished sixth in the Mercer County Tournament at the Princeton Country Club.
“This season been great really fun,” Tamasi said. “Being an upperclassman on the team has been a great experience. I enjoy helping the underclassmen any way I can and I like having a bigger role in each match. We have a pretty good record so far, which is good going into states that are coming up soon.”
In the Mercer County golf match, Luke Wittenborn led Hopewell Valley with a 75, which was good enough for seventh place individually. After Tamasi's 83, Rehan Yedav shot an 87, Nick Vagott scored a 90 and Rob Cacciabado posted a 92 to close out Hopwell Valley's five players. Hopewell finished sixth as a team, while the Pennington School won its second straight MCT title.
Pennington swept the top three spots in the tournament as Augie Beers shot a 70, James Bao posted a 72, and Tyler De Pol scored a 74.
For Hopewell, a 6-3 record and a strong showing at the MCT should be a good springboard into the Central Jersey Group 2 sectional tournament on May 13 at Twisted Dune Golf Club in Egg Harbor.
“We have been doing well,” Hopewell coach Bill Russell said. “We’re playing better now than we were at the beginning of the season. March and April are hit or miss with the weather. The kids need to be out there as much as they can hitting balls. We will be out there three or four days a week with decent weather and then all of a sudden we get two days of rain and then really cold weather.”
Tamasi is a player who came into the season ready to play. She spent the past winter traveling to Scotch Plains to work on her game and her conditioning to prepare for the season.
“Over the summer I play all the time,” she said. “In the winter I go to Scotch Plains to Ben Shear Golf, which is a fitness and performance center. I work on my swing and I am able to work out with weights and physical training. I stay in shape and I am able to hit all year round. That I stay in shape for golf. It is really great to keep swinging all year round.”
Tamasi has been playing golf for several years, but truly caught the bug to make a full commitment when she entered high school.
“I have been playing for about six or seven years,” she said. “I’d say I have been playing competitively for the last four or five years. I used to be a big lacrosse player but when I was a freshman in high school I had to decide between lacrosse or golf because they play in the same season. I decided I liked golf more.”
And since devoting herself to golf full time she’s continued to get better and better. Last weekend Tamasi played in a Hurricane Junior Golf Tour event at Hopewell Valley Golf Club. The tournament offered her an opportunity to compete against girls, which she doesn’t get often during the high school season.
“Since there are a lot of schools with separate girls teams, Caroline plays most of the time against the boys,” Russell said. “She has been holding her own. The other day she was 2-under (35) at Cream Ridge in our match against Allentown.
“Normally she plays in a tournament at the beginning of the year but because we host a tournament the same day she wanted to play in ours. She’ll play in the girls county tournament (Thursday at Mercer Oaks) and she should qualify for the girls states. So she’ll play in some tournaments against the girls.”
“It should be really cool this week,” Tamasi said before the MCT on Tuesday. “It should be great being able to play in the tournament Tuesday and then the girls’ tournament on Thursday. For me as a girl on the boys team I have to qualify individually to go to the Tournament of Champions. I need to be one of the top 50 in state and right now I think I am within that and hopefully I can stay there.
“I definitely think I have gotten better, not just statistically but my mental game has gotten a lot better. I feel like I am a lot more confident out on the course. We had a great win against Allentown (158-164) and I shot 35, which was really cool. We played the back nine and none of had ever played the back there. Even other team went in blind because they don’t usually play the back. I was able to put up a good score.”
As a team, Hopewell Valley is putting together a nice season and Russell only expects the team to get better as the weather improves and the play becomes more consistent.
“Luke has been very consistent,” Russell said. “He’s shooting 1-over par for the most part. He’s very consistent, which is great. His game is getting better for the perfect time of the year with the county tournament and then the states. He golfs year round and will play in a couple local events in the summer and fall. He enjoys it and works on his game a lot. He’s getting better smart.
“Rehan, Rob and Nick have been playing well. And so have Liam May and Sanjay (Suryanarayan). We have a pretty deep team and they are all pretty consistent with their play.”
And right there with them is Tamasi, whose scores have been right there with the boys every match she has played.
“It’s fun to play with the boys because it toughens me up,” she said. “Boys are so much different in the way they play. I feel like I learn a lot. But at the same time I just go out there and play my game whether I am playing against boys or girls.”