OSWEGO — Ryan Bartlett and Michael Douglas savored every moment of the senior day celebration that they were unsure they would ever receive.
The Oswego varsity boys golf team held its first home match of the season Monday at Oswego Country Club and recognized its senior duo with pizza and cake afterward.
The Buccaneers beat the Central Square Red Hawks, 195-268, to improve to 2-0 overall on the season. Area golf teams opened the fall sports campaign late last week while participating districts in soccer, cross country, and girls tennis are slated to begin games and meets in the coming days.
For Bartlett and Douglas, Monday marked an occasion to commemorate the upcoming season after months of uncertainty and discussion on whether it would be conducted due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I’ve played golf for five years and to not play my final year would have been hard to watch and to deal with, so being able to have one last go at it and try and get the best out of my senior year that I can is just amazing overall,” said Bartlett, who will attend Robert Morris University to study sports broadcasting.
“I’ve been thinking about if we’re having golf or not having golf for a while now, so to finally be told we’re having a season and to work towards a goal at the end of the season, it’s amazing,” he added. “After all the quarantine and everything like that, we really had nothing to put our hopes up on, and golf changes all of that.”
Oswego coach Dan Rose announced the pairing as they approached the last green Monday and the limited number of attendees applauded their career efforts.
Douglas and Bartlett tipped their caps after completing their rounds — Douglas led with a nine-hole score of 36 while Bartlett delivered a 39 — and greeted their parents and teammates as they walked off.
“We’re really fortunate as a group to have a season,” Douglas said. “Nobody really knew this summer what was going to happen, so we’re really fortunate to just even be playing a high school sport right now.”
Bartlett is beginning his fifth varsity golf campaign while Douglas, who also plays basketball and baseball for the Buccaneers, is starting his second year on the team.
Rose said he was happy mostly for his seniors that the team was given the green light for the fall season.
“They’re always thinking about their final year and they want to play well, and everything they did before kind of leads up to this,” Rose said. “So, to have a year to put it all together and show themselves, mostly, but to show everyone how far they’ve come is important.”
Oswego is represented by 12 varsity golfers with depth in the younger grade levels that Rose believes is in position to carry the program over the next handful of years.
He is looking to Bartlett and Douglas to set the tone at the top of the lineup this season while passing on the lessons of the program and the basics of how to behave on and off the course.
“The biggest adjustment for us will just be that we have a lot of younger players that we have to be role models toward to keep the golf program going up and improving every year,” Bartlett said. “I used to be the one looking up to the seniors, and now I like being able to set the role for them, having proper golf etiquette, making golf the way it should be. … Just having them here, learning, it’s been fun to watch.”
Douglas added: “They’re going to be here another few years so I think it’s good to set the right example, just play and be a role model, and for us to play good golf is important, too. We want to win every time we go out there.”
Oswego opened the season on Sept. 25 with a road victory over East-Syracuse-Minoa’s blue team, 219-246. Golfers were excited to be back on the course, according to Bartlett and Douglas, despite the adjusted schedule and late start. Last season, the Buccaneers’ final regular-season match was held on Sept. 26.
Rose said that he could sense all golfers “getting the butterflies,” as they set up for their first drive.
“It was different because, honestly, I didn’t know if we were going to be playing in a high school match, so it was cool,” Douglas said. “Obviously if you tee it up on the first tee and you don’t have nerves, that means you don’t care, so I think everyone was pretty pumped up.”
Players are making slight adjustments to comply with state coronavirus regulations. They are required to wear face coverings and social distance while on the course, and hand sanitizer stations have replaced ball washers, benches, and water coolers. The flagstick is to remain in the hole while players are on the green this season and rakes were removed from the sand traps.
The traditional post-match team handshake has converted to an elbow bump or a formal, collective tip of the cap from each team to the other.
Oswego is slated to play eight regular-season matches with the schedule to wrap up on Oct. 21.
“The other things, the rakes or the flag, that was not a big adjustment for them at all,” Rose said. “They love to play golf and any way they can, they’re going to do it and they’ll figure out how to do it quickly.”
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