Golf, fueled by underclassmen, fight for the top spot in the Inter-Ac

Gregor Weissenberger ’25 in action against Radnor Varsity Golf, September 8, 2022 – Courtesy of Bridget Walsh Photography

The golf team, a historically strong program, continues to be a worthy competitor in the Inter-Ac despite its youth. Led by Sixth Form Captains Ben Bodle, Henry Gowen, Brendan Leary, and Rory Nesbitt, the team rely on a number of underclassmen. So far, four Third Formers have played in varsity matches, which consist of eight golfers. 

“Our team is very deep with a lot of young, talented kids, so the older kids aren’t necessarily given a guaranteed starting spot, which has changed the dynamic to a more competitive atmosphere, which I think has ultimately made the team better,” Nesbitt said.

The team is very competitive. On September 29, the team tied with Malvern Prep and Germantown Academy for first in the Inter-Ac standings. However, at an Inter-Ac League event on October 6 at Waynesboro Country Club, Malvern and Germantown scored 186 and 187 to the Fords’ 190, sending the Fords back down to the league’s number-three spot. Still, the team remains optimistic. 

“We definitely have the potential to win the Inter-Ac and win EA Day, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t do that.”

Rory Nesbitt ’23

“We definitely have the potential to win the Inter-Ac and win EA Day, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t do that,” Nesbitt said.

The team’s twenty players saw more students try out for the team this year than ever. When Nesbitt was a Third Former, he was the only one in his grade on varsity. Now, Third Former Sean Curran shot a 36 at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club—a hard course for its small greens and tightness—and Fourth Former JP Hoban shot a 36 at Merion West, what their teammates labeled “standout performances.” However, the team relies on depth more than singular performances.

“We don’t have a set number one [golfer] but we definitely have a lot of depth on our team, so anyone could [score] low on any day,” Fifth Former Alex Nemo said.

JP Hoban ’25 teeing up – Courtesy of The Haverford School Instagram

One of golf’s recent victories was defeating La Salle College High School 186 to 188 at the Merion Golf Club West Course. This was the first time La Salle golf had lost a dual meet in almost two years. The team managed to do this while not practicing formally every day of the week.

“We really don’t get many team practices in just because booking a golf course for the whole team is pretty difficult. They’re pretty reluctant to do it,” Nesbitt said.

Despite this, the team finds time almost every day of the week to practice together informally, the upperclassmen offering to drive underclassmen to courses. During these practices, the team usually splits in two and faces each other in a friendly competition they call the “Haverford Open.” 

“It’s a lot of responsibility to hold yourself accountable for how much you practice and your performance on the course, and I think it really shows the kids have been working hard,” Nesbitt said.

“The team culture is probably the number-one thing we strive for.”

Alex Nemo ’24

The team is confident as they head into EA Day, having beaten EA 185 to 202 on September 29. The culture rallies behind moments like EA Day.

“The team culture is probably the number-one thing we strive for,” Nemo said. “We know each other pretty well. We have team dinners and team breakfasts. It’s definitely a really good environment. Just shows how the game can connect a lot of people.”

The line between Varsity and JV is blurred, as players move up and down on a week-to-week basis. Despite the competition inherent in this, Hoban believes all the members of the team feel equal to one another.

“Everybody’s equal because we all respect how everyone on the team plays. And then seniors really take a big role.”

JP Hoban ’25

“Everybody’s equal because we all respect how everyone on the team plays. And then seniors really take a big role,” Hoban said.

The team has had its ups and downs, but with their deep understanding of the sport, they persevere. 

“We’ve had success so far and we’ve had disappointing matches, which is how the sport goes. Each day is really up to the golfer and the golf course. So you can go out one day and shoot a really good score and the next day you could blow up,” Hoban said. “Nothing’s guaranteed.”

Author: Joey Kauffman '23

Joey Kauffman is an Editor-In-Chief for The Index for the 2022-23 school year. He previously served as a Managing Editor, where he won a Gold Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for his opinion piece “Start Language Learning in Lower School.” His review of the movie "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" also earned him second place in the Pennsylvania Press Club Annual High School Journalism Contest. In May of 2023, Joey’s features piece, “Controversy swirls around fan section nickname” won second place in the National Federation of Press Women High School Journalism Contest after winning the Pennsylvania competition.