Golfing in the sun
A pair of locals compete in Optimist International
Rather than head for prime vacation spots in Florida such as Walt Disney World, Gulfstream Park or other theme parks in the Sunshine State, Southern Maryland golfers Thomas “Wade” Antonielli and Gavin Ganter competed in their respective age brackets at the Optimist Golf International at the PGA National Resort & Spa.
Ganter, of Swan Point, finished in a seven-way tie for 17th with a 79, nine shots behind 14-15 champion Ethan Adam, while Huntingtown resident Antonielli finished 143rd overall with a three-round total of 263 in the 16-18 category. Adrien Pendaries won the four-day event with a score of 283, edging runner-up Lorenzo Elbert, Jr. by one stroke.
“I thought the greens were a little different,” said Ganter, a rising freshman at La Plata High School. “Their greens are Bermuda grass in Florida, which is a lot different than what I’m accustomed to playing at Swan Point. It was a very challenging course, but overall I thought I played well down there.”
Antonielli, a 2017 Huntingtown High School graduate who is heading to Marietta College in Ohio this fall to play golf and major in international systems, spent his freshman and sophomore years at a high school in Arizona before his family relocated to Southern Maryland in 2014. Like Ganter, Antonielli also found aspects of the course in Florida challenging.
“Actually, I didn’t mind the greens,” said Antonielli, who was part of the Hurricanes’ Southern Maryland Athletic Conference championship team in 2015. “I didn’t play my best golf down there, but it had nothing to do with the greens. For me, it was great just being able to play against
that level of competition on that course. I’m looking forward to play for the team at Marietta. But that tournament in Florida was my last one for the summer.”
Ganter, however, said
that he has two more tournaments this summer before heading to La Plata. This weekend he will compete in a two-day tournament at the Bristow Manor Country Club in Bristow, Virginia and later this month he will compete in another twoday tournament at Swan Point.
“I always look forward to playing in the two-day tournaments no matter where they’re held,” Ganter said. “Of course, I like playing at Swan Point, which is my home course. Occasionally, I have the chance to play a round with Robby Early, who is the club professional at Swan Point. He’s
always quick to give me a few pointers when I’m out on the course with him.”
During his three days on the course, Ganter gained an added appreciation for the last three holes, known as “the bear trap” for its difficulty. On paper, the 16th hole, a short par-3, might appear very inviting. But the
hole is surrounded by water and the island green tests the nerve of even the most experienced, seasoned veterans on the course in addition to newcomers.
“I guess they call the last three holes the bear trap for a good reason,” Ganter said. “Those three holes are really tough, especially No. 16. It’s a short par-3, but you have to hit it just right onto a green surrounded by water. Both No. 17 and No. 18 are really tough holes, too. I managed to survive them, but you definitely think about them when you make the turn and start the back nine.”
Gavin Ganter, a rising freshman at La Plata High School, recently competed in the Optimist Golf Championships in Florida. Ganter, who regularly plays at Swan Point, will compete in more tournaments this summer before starting high school competition in the fall.