Calvin Smith admittedly wasn’t expecting much when he stepped onto the golf course for Darien’s match at Tashua Knolls last Thursday.
After taking time off for a national academic competition in Orlando, Fla., the Blue Wave junior was still trying to get back into the swing of the golf season.
Then he birdied the first two holes and everything fell into place.
Smith shot a 5-under par 31 to break the old DHS record as Darien rolled past the St. Joseph Cadets, 144-170.
“I actually wasn’t playing that well to start the week,” Smith said. “I came back Monday and Tuesday for practice and felt a little iffy, and then shot a 40 at Wee Burn (on Wednesday). So I wasn’t expecting too much, but I knew the course was gettable with a lot of birdie holes.
“I got off to a good start and birdied the first two holes. Then once the putter got hot, I never looked back. I birdied the last three holes for my best round ever.”
Smith had an incredible six birdies on nine holes, with one bogey and two pars. The old DHS record had been 3-under par, with Smith getting birdies on the final two holes to break that mark.
“I would love to tell you he was playing great and we could see it coming, but he had been gone for a national academic competition, was gone for five days, and hadn’t played as sharp the couple of times before that match,” head coach Tom O’Donnell said. “It really came from out of the blue.”
Senior co-captain Blake Swiggett followed the 31 with an even-par 36. Junior Alex Gu shot 37, and junior Henry Sparkman and sophomore Thomas Ostberg shot 40s.
The match victory, as well as Smith’s performance, are just two of the latest chapters in what has been another remarkable year for the Blue Wave, who are captained by Swiggett and senior Matt Daileader.
Darien, which beat Trinity Catholic 149-240 Tuesday at Sterling Farms, is a perfect 12-0 this season, including 11-0 in the FCIAC. The Wave finishes with a tough stretch, taking on rival New Canaan Wednesday before facing unbeaten Staples and Greenwich next week.
The Wave leads the state rankings and seems primed for a nice postseason run after coming close to a state championship last year.
“We’ve been playing good golf,” Smith said. “We’re 1 in the state right now and we’ve got a ton of confidence going into these matches. Last year, we went undefeated and I think we’re carrying that confidence and we all have faith in each other.”
While teams such as New Canaan, Staples and Greenwich boast tremendous talent, Darien can match them and then some, with as deep a team as its had in years.
“We have 13 boys on the regular squad and their averages go from about 36 to 43,” O’Donnell said. “So there’s a huge competition for the varsity spots and even at the JV level. As a coach it’s a good problem to have but one of the problems I’m struggling with now is trying to find an objective way to decide who’s going to the postseason.”
As for Smith’s stellar round, O’Donnell said the performance was a complete one.
“The biggest thing was that he had nine putts, which is highly unusual, and he holed one from off the green,” O’Donnell said. “Six birdies in nine holes, I can’t remember anyone I’ve had in 30 years who’s done that.”
Smith made a 40-foot putt on seven and as he walked up the eighth fairway at 3-under par, he saw his coach on the seventh green talking to a couple of his teammates.
“I was going to call him over to kind of keep my mind from straying and try to stay focused,” Smith said. “Then I thought I’ve gotten here so far, let me just finish it off on my own. I birdied the next two holes, so I did a good job of that.”
Certainly a job well done.