The Suffolk D4 All-Stars, who advanced to the PGA Junior Championship in Arizona, finished the tournament placing sixth in their division with a record of 1-4.
This squad got their only win when they defeated Team Georgia in divisional play by a score of 7.5 to 4.5, a stunning upset considering Georgia came back to win the entire championship, having only lost to the Farmingdale-based team.
“I was so shocked to the point of tears that we beat them,” said captain Kelley Brooke. “Our team of little misfits, both nationally and age-wise, could beat this Goliath.”
The story of this team, dubbed “Team New York” for the national competition, starts back in June when the team was first formed by Brooke, a former player and the owner and director of the Golf Channel Academy.
“I had a group of parents who came to me last winter and they were getting shutout by country club teams,” said Brooke. “They didn’t have a place to go and they asked if I would start our own league.”
The roster consisted of Matthew DiFiore of Malverne, Joseph Dolezal of Old Westbury, Catherine Andino of Port Washington, Bryan Zhao of Jericho, Emerson Stumpf of Plainview, Spencer Cohen of Roslyn Heights, Ryan Nicholson of Smithtown, Cavan Mahler of Sayville, Ayan Sheikh of Commack and Austin Barrett of Farmingville.
“We competed in multiple sectionals in the Bronx,” said Brooke. “We then advanced to the regional which was down in New Jersey. When we won that, we advanced to nationals.”
While most of the national teams consisted of tall golfers around the age of 14, Team New York consisted of smaller 10 to 12 year olds. The group was also made up of diverse public golfers, while other players in the tournament came from private clubs.
“In terms of the process, teams like Georgia goes out and recruits athletes, some of which are not even from Georgia,” said Brooke. “We just formed our little team.”
While Brooke’s team could not come back to win a second time the rest of the tournament, they were so thrilled by what they achieved.
“We were so satisfied,” said Brooke. “Everywhere we went, we got standing ovations from other parents and players. It was really a special moment for our kids.”
While Brooke is sad she won’t be able to create the family atmosphere that she did this year with this team, she is looking forward to getting on the recruiting path and building a team to contend for next year’s tournament.