By Warren Rappleyea
With a sterling performance at the Concordia Golf Club in Monroe, Sayreville War Memorial High School’s Erin McQuade walked away with the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) championship, becoming the school’s first girls individual champ.
McQuade fired a 4-over-par 39 to finish in a first-place tie with Sayaka Carpenter of East Brunswick High School. The Sayreville senior jumped out to an early lead and was still up by two strokes heading into the eighth hole. McQuade four-putted the hole and Carpenter was able to pull even. On the final hole, McQuade kept her poise and chipped out of the rough to set up a short putt that enabled her to keep pace.
“Sayaka was on the fringe, so that was an important shot for me,” McQuade said. “I was able to get to the rim of the cup, and it was just a short putt from there.”
Fortunately, she also held the tiebreaker, having birdied on the second hole, which was the lowest handicapped hole on the course.
“I used a three-hybrid twice on that hole, and that put me onto the green,” she said. “I actually didn’t use a driver all day. “
Long accurate shots are a key part of McQuade’s game, according to Sayreville coach Rich Bates. Earlier this year, she hit a drive for more than 265 yards, which is not bad for a player who only got serious about golf as a freshman.
McQuade played a few times as a youngster but decided to take it up again in high school. Initially, she was a member of the boys team. But when the school established a girls team, McQuade became a mainstay.
“Erin just loves the sport, and she’s dedicated to getting better,” Bates said. “She works throughout the winter months, and it’s evident. Her chipping and approach shots have shaved strokes off her average, and her putting has begun to make a difference. She has technique and is just an excellent all-around player.”
McQuade, who is averaging 38 shots per nine holes this spring, spends her summers working as a counselor and instructor at the Colts Neck Country Club, where she has been able to further hone her skills. She credits her father, John, and Bates for helping her learn the game and become a better player.
Although McQuade had interest from several schools, she has opted to attend Coastal Carolina University in the fall, where she will try to walk on to the golf team.
“Education comes first,” said McQuade, who owns a 3.95 grade-point average and plans to study accounting. “I want to play golf, but I also want to go to a school that is strong in my major.”
Meanwhile, she will continue to focus on her game and prepare for the state individual tournament May 26 at the Forsgate Country Club.