Claire Galante has a short memory, a necessity on the golf course.
It may be cliché, but it’s true. Galante, who golfs for Kellenberg, knows that a good round isn’t cinched in a shot. A good drive doesn’t guarantee continued success and a bad chip doesn’t spell doom. So, when some nerves snuck into her bag on the first tee of her CHSAA League championship round Thursday on Eisenhower Blue, she didn’t panic.
"If you [hit] a good shot or a bad shot, you either celebrate for 30 seconds or you dwell on it for 30 seconds, and then you forget," she said. "Golf is a shot by shot game. One shot does not define your entire round."
Galante put enough good shots together to shoot an even-par 36 on nine holes of Eisenhower Blue, posting the low score of the day and helping Kellenberg win the team championship over St. Anthony’s, 3-2, and complete a 12-0 season. In the semifinals on Wednesday, Galante shot a two-under 34 on the same course, the first time she’s shot under par, she said.
Galante is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
In the championship round, Galante landed her opening shot in the rough on the par-5 first hole. She hit her second shot fat, and then her third over the green. But, Galante went up-and-down for par and had saved herself from a potential early blow up.
"It really helped," Galante said of the save. "Just knowing you could have two bad shots and still par a hole, it really gets you in the right mindset, because anything could happen in golf."
Galante started to get into a grove when she birdied the par-4 fifth.
"I out-drove the green and made up and down," she said. "I chipped it and then one- putted it."
Galante has been playing this season with TaylorMade bladed P770 and P790s, which she received in March as an 18th birthday present. She said the clubs are significant upgrades from the TaylorMade M6’s that she was playing with.
"My consistency has grown tremendously," Galante said. "When I miss it, it's not as much of a miss as my old clubs. So, my range has narrowed down."
Galante said she spent most of the offseason and COVID shutdown on the range and at the practice green, perfecting her short game and becoming a generally more well-rounded golfer. The work has done wonders for her score.
"Honestly, I didn't change anything, I just practiced," she said. "I never really understood short game. I would always just go on the range and smash my irons and be like ‘alright cool, why am I not good at golf?’ But I really understand the importance of practicing the short game and developing a feel for it."
With a team championship in the bag, Galante now turns her attention to the CHSAA Individual championships on Tuesday at Eisenhower White — an 18-hole day. Until then, she’ll keep trying to make every shot count, without dwelling on them too much.
"I'm going to be playing 18 holes at Nassau Country Club every day until [Tuesday]," she said.