Salem golfers aim for another strong season following annual trip to Disney World | Sports

When Tom Doyle took over the Salem High golf program back in 2001, he aspired to form a tight knit, competitive squad that would work hard to improve their games each time out on the course.

As cliché as that may sound, Doyle had a plan in place to truly make those goals a reality. By his second year, he initiated an annual preseason trip to Disney World in an effort to increase team bonding while helping prepare his players for the upcoming season. It would quickly blossom into a longstanding program tradition.

Two decades later the journey down south is still going strong, as this year’s Witches just returned from the Happiest Place On Earth on Monday night and dove right into an opening match against Winthrop Tuesday afternoon.

“Other than the one year off with COVID (2020), we’ve been going down and enjoying the parks and the golf,” said Doyle, who has six returning players on his varsity roster this fall. The team raised money for the trip by hosting a double-shotgun fundraising tournament at the program’s home course, Olde Salem Greens.

“It’s not so much a vacation, but more of an experience,” continued Doyle. “We all decided to make this one the best we could by doing as much as we could in the short window (about 5 days). It’s just great to team bond and get to know each other more, and for me to get to know some of the kids better as well.”

This year’s trip included stops at all four of Disney’s major parks — Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom — as well as the Typhoon Water Park. The team also made sure to find time to golf four times, getting out early in the morning at Disney’s Palm Golf Course, Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club, and twice at Buena Vista Golf Course.

“We played 18 holes at each course and were basically the first tee times out pretty much every day,” said Doyle.

Getting to experience golf on some beautiful and challenging Florida tracks before embarking on a grind of a regular season schedule will undoubtedly help the team moving forward.

This year’s group includes senior returnees Jon Wasserman, Brady Tremblay, Jack Doyle, Diego Acuna and Owen Warner-Streff, as well as junior Riley Fenerty. Freshman Nathaniel Lane and sophomore Barbara Rowley rounded out the top eight in Tuesday’s season opener at Winthrop.

Wasserman in particular appears poised for an excellent season after making significant strides with his swing a season ago.

“It’s funny; we were talking the other day about how Jon didn’t want to play golf at the youth level; now his progression over these past four years has been impressive,” Doyle said of Wasserman, who will start the year as the team’s top player. “Each and every year he comes back better and more consistent. He played very well each of the days down in Florida and has earned the No. 1 spot so far. He’s really stepped up and turned into a nice player for us.”

Salem boasts an experienced varsity lineup, with a number of players vying for positioning in slots 2-through-6 in the rotation.

Doyle is also excited to have three female players this season including Rowley, who has already cracked the varsity slate.

“It’s great to have some girls in the program,” said Doyle. “We’re hoping to teach them the game, have them compete and get them some experience for the future.”

Despite dropping their season opener Tuesday — albeit in competitive fashion — Salem once again has its sights set on competing at a high level in the NEC and qualifying for the state tournament. Doyle, who will be assisted by his son and current Salem State golfer Ethan this fall, believes the league boasts some strong teams yet again, but feels his team will be right in the mix.

Contact Nick Giannino at NGiannino@Salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickGiannino_SN.

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