October 25, 2006
Zach Attacks South Fork Golf Course!
Eighth Grader Shoots 63: Shatters Scoring Mark
Sometimes, greatness is held in the hands of youth. Last Wednesday greatness rested in a firm golf grip, a fluid swing and as crisp a ball-striker as there is on the East End.
That ball-striker just so happens to be in eighth grade.
Yes, on Wednesday, East Hampton's Zach Grossman defied the odds and beat down the South Fork Country Club history books by firing a course record of 63; shattering the previous record by four strokes.
Grossman carved his name into Amagansett's South Fork course record book; make that tattooed (more popular word considering his age) his name as the lowest single-round scorer in the history of the course, which opened in the spring of 1959, by making seven birdies and no bogeys in the best-played round of his young life.
"It really is [a special score], not just for here [South Fork], but for anywhere," said SFCC Golf Professional Tim Garvin. "Kevin Sommers shot 67 here [the previous course record] and so did I," Garvin said. "Pat Sama shot 67 here this summer, but none of us has come close [to 63]. I just think that it was a great round and considering how young he is, this is just fantastic. We were all ecstatic for him."
Grossman, a standout on the resurgent East Hampton High School varsity golf team, has helped lead the Bonackers to a share of the League VIII title this fall; playing five to six times per week as he continues to refine his already outstanding game.
"He's really only been playing golf for four years [which makes this more incredible] and he's already a scratch golfer," Garvin said. He doesn't even have a handicap. We were just so happy for him because he's been trying [to break the record] for a while."
Grossman, who was playing the course with his father, Jon Grossman, on Wednesday, hit 13 greens in regulation and needed just 25 putts to record his 63. He shot 33 on the front nine before finishing with a scorching hot score of 30 on the back. Both were also course records.
"This is one round where it really came together for me," said Grossman. "I've been trying to break it [the course record] for a long time and I was able to shoot 68 in September. I was really thinking about focusing on fundamentals and focusing on what I was doing well [on the front nine). Then I shot 30 on the backside."
Grossman made birdies on the first, fourth, eighth, tenth, thirteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth holes and he missed a hole in one on #16; a 135-yard par three on a shot that landed inches from the cup only to spin back two feet.
His most difficult hole was the fifth hole, a short dogleg right where he had 70 yards remaining on his approach after hitting a massive drive only to have the wind push his lob wedge shot right and his ball landed in the thick rough. Grossman calmly hit a difficult uphill pitch ten feet short of the hole before sinking his par.
His longest birdie putt was on the eighth hole, where he made a 42-foot slider into the cup that would have made Tiger Woods proud.
"That putt really gave me a boost and that was one of the turning points of my round. The more I put myself in position, the better chance I had. There were a few times [on the front nine] where I put myself in some really tough positions [either hitting it in the rough or the sand] but I was able to make four or five up and downs. It's never come together for me like that."
Grossman also said that he thought that he had a good chance at breaking the course record after his strong play on the front nine and would have been happy with a score of 66. Little did he know that the best nine holes of his life were awaiting him at the turn.
Taking a page out of The Greatest Game Ever Played, the eighth grader with the golden swing attacked the course with long, thunderous drives, crisp, accurate approach shots and putts that appeared to be propelled by a magnetic force towards the hole regardless of the distance or break. This was flawless golf at its best. And there was someone there to witness it all; and he couldn't have been more proud.
"That was the first round that [my dad's] ever played with me where I shot in the sixties and when I came off the front nine, he was like 'Wow, Zach, you're really playing well.'"
On the 18th hole, Grossman hit a drive of a little more than 290 yards downwind and that left him 145 yards to hole. He then hit an easy eight iron that reached the green and two-putted for the course record 63.
"It [holding the record] doesn't change the way I play. I'm still practicing and still trying to improve," he said. "I need to keep working on my putting." And when asked whether or not he plans to pursue golf in college and beyond, he politely answered, "I'm just taking it one step at a time. We'll see."