The Greens Farms Academy girls golf team might have lost its spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Dragons program was front and center at its home course on Saturday, Aug. 22.
Recently graduated Clare Foley and rising freshman Charlotte Wagner went head-to-head for the Country Club of Fairfield’s Ladies Club Championship that day.
When the dust settled, it was Foley pulling out a 1-up victory after 19 holes while unofficially passing the putter of program leadership to Wagner in the process.
“It was really fun, and I think it was a win-win situation for both of us,” Foley said. “I know we were both so proud of each other that we made it to the finals.”
The two Dragons got to know each other well as teammates and Wagner got a kick out of the type of intense and focused competitor Foley was on the golf course.
“Clare and I have really bonded over the last two years,” Wagner said. “To have her as my competitor — it was just a whole new way to see her and see how good she is, how competitive she is. It meant a lot to me to play her in the final. She’s a role model for me.”
Both golfers played tight matches against veteran players in the semifinals, Foley said, before squaring off against each other in the championship match.
In fact, Foley’s semifinal match was a win over last year’s Club champ—who happened to beat the then rising eighth-grader Wagner in the final.
“It didn’t really matter who won in the end,” Foley said. “If she had won, I would have been so excited for her.”
Instead, trailing by one entering the 18th and final hole of the match play title tilt, Foley won the hole to force a 19th hole tiebreaker.
Foley won that, as well, to take the title.
Wagner knew right away that experience was the difference between the two golfers.
“Experience is one of the most important things in any sport,” she said. “Clare has that experience. She has played in those high-pressure situations. Playing through 19 holes with everybody watching, I definitely felt the nerves.”
One of those watching was an incredibly proud John Humphries, the girl's varsity golf coach at GFA.
“I literally had goosebumps the night before thinking about it,” said Humphries, who is also the First Assistant Professional at Country Club of Fairfield. “It was the most enjoyable 18-hole round I’ve watched in a while. Just seeing how they were persevering through difficult shots and executing at a high level. It was so great to see the two of them, the camaraderie and cheering each other on while competing. Clare just made a couple of key shots to pull it out.”
Foley, a first-year student at the University of Southern California, admitted she is comfortable leaving the GFA program to Wagner to look after for the next four years.
“I don’t have to worry about who will be taking it over,” Foley said. “I know she’s really responsible and such a good player. She’s always inspired me with how hard she works at the game.”
Foley was actually supposed to be on the West Coast for her freshman year, but USC is doing its first semester online.
That allowed Foley to stay home and play for the club championship.
Wagner, who played varsity golf for GFA as a seventh-grader, showed how far her game as come in in the two seasons since she last teed off for the Dragons.
“Her trajectory has actually amazed me,” Humphries said. “She can be as good as she wants to be. She’s motivated and expressed aspirations [to get better]. She’ll lead by example for us and put in the hard work.”
Wagner is excited to lead GFA girls golf into a new and exciting future.
“Clare has helped me so much and now it’s going to be my time to go out there and play No. 1,” Wagner said. “I can’t wait to start this journey through high school and show everybody what I’m made of. I’m excited for the future.”
Last Saturday at the Country Club of Fairfield, the past and future of GFA girls golf got together for an exciting round and the torch was officially passed.