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The Nipmuc Golf Team gathered for dinner recently to celebrate the end of their successful fall season and to thank a local business for providing them with a home course. Contributed photo


Nipmuc Golf Finds a Home
Over the past several seasons, the Nipmuc golf team has struggled to find a home course. The Warriors played at Indian Meadows in Westboro, but the course was sub par and the drive a lengthy one coming from Mendon. They tried the Hopedale Country Club, but between member play and their Dual Valley League rival Blue Raiders using the facility, it left very little, if any time, for practices.
Two years ago, Lou Pappados of the Shining Rock Golf Club in Northbridge approached Nipmuc golf coach Kevin Connors about making Shining Rock the new home course for the Warriors. Nipmuc just completed its second season on the course, and Connors couldn't be happier.
"They came to us and offered us the club and it has been great," said Connors. "They really encourage junior golf and they allow us to practice at the facility three times a week in addition to playing our matches."
The added reps have helped the Nipmuc players improve. Another aspect of the course that has aided in the players development is the fact that it is fairly difficult.
"The first five holes are pretty daunting, with some long carries," said Connors, who has been the golf coach at Nipmuc since 2000 and won a pair of league championships. "Hitting over ravines that might be 210-220 yards is a challenge for a high school player, and good shot selection to the greens is imperative. Playing there helps the kids judge the game and where to hit the ball because you can't put yourself in a bad position."
Nipmuc finished 7-7-2 this season, qualifying for the district tournament as a team. Connors had four senior captains, including Nate Bertrand who was one of his most consistent players with an average of between 40 and 42 all season. Craig Miklavic, Brandon Gale, and Stephanie Allaire were also senior captains and regular contributors in the rotation. In addition, Connors called Brian St. Germain his "most improved" player and has a talented sophomore named Jack Shuper who took medalist honors in several matches despite his relative inexperience.
Nipmuc was also able to navigate though a difficult schedule, which includes strong league and non-league competition like Milford, David Prouty and Grafton, to name a few. Connors credits much of the success to the Warriors' new home course.
"Playing at Shining Rock has made us a better team," he said. "Guys play during the summer and they are able to step up their game by the time the season rolls around."
Last Wednesday, the Nipmuc team awarded a plaque to Shining Rock for their professionalism and the way they have helped promote Nipmuc golf and youth golf.
"I hope we are there for a long, long time," said Connors. "Even if they weren't our home course, it's still a great place to play golf."




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