By BRIAN CUNNIFF
ERMA — The golf programs from Lower Cape May Regional and Middle Township high schools continue to prove that not all intense sports rivalries are unfriendly.
The programs continued their annual tradition by holding “Parents’ Day” during the team’s match at Cape May National Golf Club on a cool but otherwise nice afternoon on Wednesday.
Unlike virtually all other high school sports, spectators — and even coaches, for that matter — generally aren’t permitted to follow golfers around the course during a match.
So quite a few years ago, Lower coach Jeff Wunder, his co-coach at the time in Jim Ridgway and former Middle coach Will Mendo came up with the idea to allow parents and grandparents to walk the course and watch the players during one of the teams’ two meetings each season.
The host of the “Parents Day” event alternates each season, so next year the event will be held at Middle’s home course, Avalon Golf Club.
“We always thought how nice it would be do it, so we came up with the idea to have the parents come watch their kids play one time per year,” Wunder said.
Wunder said he knows of no other programs across South Jersey and perhaps even the state that hold a similar event.
The reasoning for having the event is simple, he said.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and especially for the kids that are really good, their parents spend a lot of time and money into their kids playing this sport, but yet this is the only sport where the parents can’t come watch their kids play on a normal basis,” Wunder said. “We decided to give a little nod to the parents for what they do for their kids.”
Due to golf’s strict rules, the parents and grandparents are urged to remain on the cart paths as they walk — some ride in golf carts — around the course to watch their sons and daughters compete. They are permitted to clap following a good shot, but otherwise must have no interaction with their children as they play.
“We have to thank Cape May National and also Avalon to help us with this in letting the parents here,” Wunder said. “There are other people playing golf out here, so there’s a little responsibility on the parents’ part to stay out of the way.”
Wunder said there’s certainly a different feel to the annual “Parents Day” match, with the players having multiple sets of eyes on them as they try to execute each shot.
“It’s been great ever since we started this, but the kids are definitely a little more nervous playing in front of their parents so the scores might go up a little bit with them knowing mom and dad are standing there watching what’s going on,” Wunder said with a smile.
Dave Joslin is in his second season as Middle’s coach. He said his players look forward to the “Parents Day” match each season.
“It’s really a great event,” Joslin said. “I think it’s great the parents can come watch their kids.”
Unbeaten Middle Township, the defending Cape-Atlantic National Conference champion, improved to 4-0 by posting a 178-207 victory in the traditional nine-hole match. Andrew Kapp (41), P.J. Schulte (44), Pete Conlin (45) and Vince Lamanna (48) were Middle’s scorers. Travis Marshal and Laura Porto also participated among Middle’s top six for the varsity match. Lower’s scorers included Kolby Carter (48), Chris Hollandsworth (50), Jack Perry (53) and Justin Glover (56), with Joe Baker and Mike Frumento also participating in the varsity match for the Caper Tigers (4-3).
Following the match, the players, coaches and parents got together for a barbecue dinner in the clubhouse at Cape May National.