As the scores slowly matriculated into the club house of the Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton on Monday, June 3, the members of the Sandwich girls’ golf team could only scoreboard watch and remain hopeful for at least a top-three finish in the All-State Championship tournament.
“I thought we were going to be in the top three,” Sandwich girls’ golf head coach Bob Travers said. “Our scores kept coming in pretty good and our opponents kept coming in high.”
Reporters on the scene approached Travers, looking for him to comment on his first-year varsity squad winning the state championship, but he turned them away, opting to wait for the official word.
“I wanted to wait until it came in officially,” he said. “We were scoreboard watching and we were shocked once it was finalized. I was pleasantly stunned.”
Sandwich ended up taking first overall in the team tournament, shooting a combined score of 370—12 strokes ahead of the next closest team in Duxbury. Not only was the first state title for a program still in its infancy, but the first state team title for the school since 2012 when the boys’ golf team lifted the statewide hardware. This past winter, wrestler Connor Keegan was a state champion in his respective weight class.
“When it was becoming more and more clear [that we had won] it was so exciting,” said senior Kristina Thimme, who had spent two previous seasons playing on the boys’ team. “I wasn’t even going to play on the team this year and just get ready for college. But these girls became my best friends. We hugged and started crying.”
The championship celebration continued at a nearby Red Robin, where the girls’ feasted on baked mac & cheese and, later, ice cream—food fit for a first-time champion.
Emma Abramson, an 8th grader, had the lowest score of any Blue Knight, shooting a 90 on the long par 73 course, with Thimme and Bridget Lopes each shooting a 92. Senior captain Emily Hunt posted a 96 to produce the top-four individual scores for the Knights as Kylee Quinn (109) and Caitlin Wick (146) also made the trip out to the Western Mass. course.
Although in their first year, the Blue Knights team is far from first-time golfers. For Travers, who is in his 15th year as the assistant golf pro at The Ridge Club, where the Knights practice and play their home games, he’s known five of the six girls on the team for nearly their entire life.
“I’ve known Emma since she was born and Kristina since she was three years old. Bridget and Caitlin grew up in our junior golf program and Emily has been taking lessons for six years,” he said.
Some live at the residences at The Ridge Club and some work there. Nearly all of them take the game seriously outside of school. The team wrapped up the regular season with a record of 8-3 and earned a fifth-place finish in the sectional qualifier last week—which earned the Knights a spot in the state final. But more than just the on-course success, it was the bond formed through the game of golf that made this season so memorable for Travers.
“This team was my favorite team to be around, whether they won or lost,” said Travers, who previously coached golf at Newton South High School and the SHS boys’ JV team. “They were great, easy-going, and really cared for one another. That was the best part of my season. The win was a cherry on top.”
Their camaraderie began from the top, with seniors Hunt and Thimme. As one-time rivals in out-of-school tournaments and as the only girl members of the boys’ team, Hunt recalled being a bit intimidated by her fellow classmate.
“We were definitely rivals growing up,” Hunt recalled. “I’d be shaking out on the tee box if we’d played together. She was really good.”
Thimme agreed, adding with a laugh, “we were complete enemies in sports, but something clicked and we’re best friends now.”
That helped set the tone for a season to remember. And to Travers, the ability to band together through the game of golf is an even greater accomplishment than hoisting a state title.
“They’re inseparable now,” he said. “To see the game bring two people together is amazing to watch unfold.”
But as much as this state title stands for friendship as it does for depth and perseverance, it’s about about a community banding together. First-year varsity programs, Travers said, are not available for school funding in the first three years of existence. And, suffice to say, golf is anything but a cheap sport.
“It’s been a community effort. The Ridge Club—from the members to the staff—really stepped up and supported the kids in so many different ways,” Travers said. “They gave us a place to play and practice and been behind this team since day one. We owe them a lot.”
Whitney Trimble, a member at The Ridge Club and an employee at Footjoy, provided the team its uniforms, while other members ponied up the money to fund the van ride out to Sutton. And at previous stops before arriving at The Ridge Club, Travers recalled his teams having to “tip toe” around private clubs. But not in Sandwich.
“We never got anything like ‘what are they doing here?’ or anything negative. It was always ‘this is great’ or ‘how are they doing?’” he said. “Two members actually came out to support them at sectionals.”
That support—both financially and emotionally—wasn’t lost on the members of the team.
“I know it means a lot to me, personally, and to our team,” said Hunt, who works part-time at The Ridge Club. “They’ve donated outerwear pieces, shirts and golf balls. When we didn’t have all the funds needed for our trip to the state final, the members stepped up with the funds in a matter of hours. We’re all really appreciative of it.”
As the news began to spread across the internet and appeared in other news outlets, Travers’ phone blew up with congratulatory messages from Club members. A group of women members will be taking the girls’ team out for a round next week before a banquet, which will also be held at The Ridge Club.
Currently the state championship trophy sits front and center in the main lobby of the clubhouse, a testament to the ties between the community and its newly crowned state champion.
“To go as far as we did is crazy,” Travers said. “You can’t top it.”