Sport or not, golf team makes championship round


DRIVE: Freshman Michael Soussana takes a shot at the driving range where the golf team practices.

By Clara Sandler, Staff Writer

There are students at Shalhevet who argue about golf’s validity as a sport on a regular basis, but the Firehawk golf team proved its side of the argument by making it to just one stroke away from winning the league championship.

It was the first time in the team’s three years that the golfers had made it to the championship round. It was close and they lost at their last stroke.

“This is the best overall team we’ve had in our three years,” said senior co-captain Will Bernstein. “We knew we could rely on the four guys we put out there.”

The team was formed two years ago, when the current senior captains, Will, Jake Benyowitz and Derek Orenshein, were sophomores. When they first started, they were the only members; now the team has grown at least eight and as many as 12, depending on the day.

In 2014, Will, Jake, and Derek started the team by announcing it in Town Hall — without talking to administration, they said, because they thought that was way you start a team. After the Town Hall announcement, Athletic Director Eli Schiff worked out the details and the team joined the CIF’s Mulholland Golf League. They’ve been in the eight-team league ever since.

This year the team went 7-2 overall, 7-1 in the league. The first year they were 4-3, and last year they went 6-1.

Professionally, golf is played on a course 18 holes long. The golfer is required to swing and hit the golf ball from a designated place into a hole and then, if they do not make it into the hole, must hit the ball again until they complete the play.

It’s usually an individual sport, but Shalhevet plays as a team. The course they play on is half the size of a regular course, with nine holes.

Charley Wiesel, father of freshman Aaron and junior Alexander “Zander” Wiesel, coaches the team, which both his sons play on.

“Charley’s an incredible coach,” said team co-captain Jake Benyowitz, a senior. “He takes his time, especially on a Sunday when we hit the range. He sits with each person and does individual things.”

Still, the debate about golf being a sport at Shalhevet is a strong one, at least among the freshmen.

Golf is not a sport,” said freshman Ethan Blacher. “It’s more of a recreational activity that requires little to no physical activity. It’s like ping pong. Ping pong is a recreational activity, not a sport.”

Aaron Wiesel disagrees, though he admitted someone might get that impression if all they’d ever seen was a driving range.  At a range, experienced golfers can practice their swing and while inexperienced can swing for fun. “It requires physical exertion even though people think that it doesn’t,” said Aaron. “You have to walk on the golfcourse like eight miles, and people who think it’s not a sport have either never played before or only went to the range.”

Freshman Eytan Kent says that while he sometimes says that golf is not a sport, he doesn’t actually mean it.

“I actually do think that golf is a sport — I just like to [annoy] Wiesel by saying it’s not a sport,” said Eytan.