POTSDAM With school budgets tight, Section 10 golf programs are spending more and more time in the rough.
Canton Centrals program was cut last year as was Massenas. Canton will have no team for the second year in a row, while at Massena, it has taken private fundraisers to keep the program intact.
Potsdams program also was axed from the budget for this year, but the team was recently presented a check for $2,615 from the Potsdam Town and Country Club so that Sandstoners can defend their Section 10 championship. The funds were raised from proceeds from a golf tournament, a spaghetti dinner, and the team has also received private donations.
Over the summer, they held a tournament, other donations came in, some from former players, and we were able to keep the program. It was a great community effort, said first-year coach Brooks Bigwarfe who takes over this season from longtime coach Steve Kmack, who retired with numerous league and sectional crowns to his credit.
After Kmacks departure, Bigwarfe, also the schools boys basketball coach but not a teacher at the school, was approached by school officials and asked if he would coach golf on a volunteer basis.
It was the only way to sustain the program and the kids appreciate that Im doing this. They were involved with the fundraiser, they really helped out, said Bigwarfe whose volunteer assistant coach is Ben Stone, a Clarkson University freshman and last years top golfer for the Sandstoners.
Potsdam is usually deep in talent and the program has featured several sectional champions and runners-up over the years. But this season the only returning all-star is senior Konnor Bigwarfe, the coachs son, who hopes to next year compete at SUNY Potsdam.
We dont have guys like Ben Stone, Nick Miller or Mike Chambers to carry us any more. We have to step up as a team, said the younger Bigwarfe. We appreciate that we even have a team. We got involved with the golf tournament and the dinner to raise money and we all appreciate that my dad volunteered to coach. Our community has made it possible for us to have a team.
Other Potsdam seniors include Dan Cruikshank and Ryan McDonald, while junior Dan Stone is expected to round out a solid top four for the Sandstoners.
Said Cruikshank: Its my fifth year on the team, my last year, and it would have been terrible to have the program end. I believe its the best sports team at Potsdam. Theyve won so many sectional team championships in the past 20 years.
McDonald is set to complete a three-year career on the Sandstoner golf team and was impressed how the community stepped forward to save the team.
I found out more people than I thought actually do care about the program. A lot of people came together to bring it back, said McDonald. It means a lot to the seniors who have been around a long time.
Coach Bigwarfe also relishes the chance to coach his son in his final scholastic sports endeavor.
Ive coached Konnor a long time in a lot of sports and its a chance be here as he finishes his senior season. Thats special for me, said coach Bigwarfe. There are a lot of people who deserve credit for keeping the program alive including Ben Stone. He was a team member last year and nows hes back coaching because he really cares about the other guys. And he has a real passion for golf.
As it was a community effort to keep the program alive, its going to be more of a team effort if Potsdam is to continue its exceptional success in golf.
We dont have the luxury of going eight or nine deep as in the past at Potsdam, said coach Bigwarfe. Well see what happens.
Potsdam was the dominant team in Section 10 again last year but not by much. The Sandstoners won Division I with a 7-1 record and OFA was second at 6-2. Potsdam finished only six strokes ahead of Massena and just eight ahead of Malone at the Section 10 championship.
Norwood-Norfolk was 14-0 in Division II, winning by five games over Tupper Lake. The Flyers edged Salmon River by eight points in the Section 10 Tournament.