2023 Season Preview: Deep, Talented Golf Team Enters Second Year Under Sam Herrick

David Creed •

Sam Herrick has expected greatness from his team the moment he took the job as the Nantucket varsity golf head coach last summer. The Whalers had a strong season last year going 11-5, and they return nearly every golfer this fall. Herrick expects big things in his second season as the leader of the program.

“We can play eight guys this year just like last year,” Herrick said while driving on the first hole at the Miacomet Golf Course. “Right now those eight seniors are making it hard for me to look at anybody else right now because they've just been putting in so much time and effort over the summer. We’re expecting big things out of them this year.”

There will be an interesting twist to the Whaler’s matches this season. Rather than have head-to-head matchups where Team A’s top golfer faces off against Team B’s top golfer, Team A’s second golfer faces Team B’s second golfer etc., the matches will be stroke play, which means that the top six golfers on each team will have their scores added up and whoever shoots the lower score wins. Each team can play eight golfers and pick the top six scores of those eight.

“That part of it is just really exciting because it is awesome for teams who have a lot of depth and we have that,” Herrick said. “We have a lot of depth and that is why I set the expectations so high this year. I don’t want to put too much pressure on them or myself but they have the tools. From Miacomet Golf and Nantucket Golf being so generous, everything has been given to them to succeed. Now we have to go earn it.”

Sam Herrick
Sam Herrick is entering his second season as the Nantucket varsity golf head coach. Photo by Chris Tran

The Whalers are led by senior Henry Kathawala, who has been making headlines this summer for his strong play after shooting a 72 in the New England Professional Golfer’s Association Cape Cod Tournament earlier this month. They also have seniors Braden Knapp, Cole Chambers, Pat Carroll, and Colby O’Keefe who will likely round out the team’s top five. There will be several players, including seniors Ryan Davis and Michael Culkins, competing for that sixth spot in the lineup.

“There's been guys just trying to gun for Henry’s heels right now,” Herrick said. “Cole Chambers and Braden Knapp have been playing excellent. Colby O'Keefe took a job working at Miacomet and he's been playing a ton. His game has excelled in a huge way really. So you know you have those four guys and then obviously you got Patty Carroll, Ryan Davis, our new addition Jack (Halik, senior). He’s an athlete.”

Herrick said for the first time in the program’s history, the team may need to make a cut. He is expecting to have 13 or 14 golfers. Given the increased busyness of the Miacomet Golf Course in the shoulder season, he expects to go with 12 golfers.

“It’s unfortunate but it just shows you how competitive the sport is getting,” he said. “I think COVID really boosted the sport up with golf being an outdoor activity. More people are playing golf, and maybe with football being considered a more dangerous sport nowadays parents are pushing their kids towards a sport like golf. And that is coming from a Whaler football alum – I played for Vito Capizzo.”

Herrick said entering year two, he feels like his ability to coach his golfers will be better now that he knows more of them on a personal level.

“I know these guys. I know when the waves are up. I know I can’t really count on Patty Carroll to be there on time,” Herrick said. “I know these guys all work. They work really hard, and I know that. But with the off time coming up I don’t feel bad sending them a text being like ‘Hey are you out playing golf right now because I know the surf is flat.’”

“But seriously, knowing these kids has been a game changer. We have a good relationship and they trust the process,” Herrick added. “Trust the process just like in any other sport.”

As for this team’s ceiling? Herrick made a bold claim.

“Honestly these kids could go undefeated. They really could,” Herrick claimed. “They totally could but we play some good teams like Cape Cod Academy and St. John Paul II. I just look at that depth we have and it is exciting.

The Whalers begin their season on Wednesday, September 6 at 3:45 p.m. against the Dennis-Yarmouth Dolphins on the island. You can access the full schedule by clicking here.

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