The Day's All-Area Golfer of the Year: Montville's Sam Gaboury
Sam Gaboury received a lot of advice while playing last summer with fellow members at Norwich Golf Course.
There was a common theme.
"Everyone that I played with said I had so much more potential," Gaboury said. "They said I had to find a way to unlock that potential."
A Montville High School senior, Gaboury discovered the key to opening up his potential and put it on display during the spring high school golf season.
Gaboury played his best golf, posting the lowest differential in the Eastern Connecticut Conference and turning in impressive top three finishes in two challenging 18-hole tournaments.
"It was more than I expected, honestly," Gaboury said of his success.
Gaboury was named The Day's 2018 All-Area Golfer of the Year.
"Sam is a really talented player," Montville coach Chris DeLucia said. "He hits the ball a really long way. He's an exceptional iron player for such a long hitter. ... Sam is driven to play well. He has a strong passion for the game."
Gaboury would have never reached his new heights — all-state and All-ECC, conference-low differential of 3.25, a share of his first ECC Championship individual title, and tied for third against a tough field in the Wildcat Invitational — if not for following the advice of his fellow members, including DeLucia.
He signed up for a 15-week winter clinic on Saturday afternoons at Lake of Isles in North Stonington, working with teaching pro Jim Jones who helped him find his "natural swing," polish his iron play and learn to shape his shots.
"We clicked instantly," Gaboury said. "What he told me made so much sense."
When the clinic ended, Gaboury was a different and significantly improved golfer. He lowered his handicap from a 12 to a 7 and became one of the elite golfers in the ECC.
"He definitely improved a lot from last year to this year," DeLucia said. "I know he spent the winter doing a winter program at Lake of Isles with instructor Jimmy Jones. He has a great junior program there. That was a big thing for him being able to hit golf balls this winter when most kids weren't practicing. He spent his Saturday, which is pretty impressive. Most high school kids are doing other things.
"And in the beginning of the season during those really brutal weather days in April, he was out there every day practicing and playing. His work ethic is tremendous. Sam is driven to play well. He has a strong passion for the game."
Gaboury also was more confident and mentally tough.
"I really wasn't worried about anything," said Gaboury, who picked up the sport about six years ago.
Results backed that up.
Gaboury had a number of under par rounds in nine-hole league matches, including firing a 34 versus Waterford at Norwich Golf Course. He earned co-medalist honors in the ECC championship with a 75 at Quinnatisset Country Club in Thompson and finished as the top local golfer at the Wildcat Invitational, tying for third with a 75 at Norwich. He had the second lowest-differential in Division III in the entire state and 24th overall in all divisions.
He was disappointed about shooting an 81 at the Division III state tournament.
"I wish I did better in the states, especially coming off ECCs," Gaboury said. "But I'm still happy because I tied for third at the Wildcat and tied for first in the ECCs. Can't beat that. That's once in a lifetime."
As a captain of an inexperienced team, Gaboury also made valuable contributions as a leader. Five of seven players were newcomers.
"He was an excellent leader," DeLucia said. "His patience working with the new players was unbelievable. I couldn't really ask any more of him. He was just a tremendous senior captain. ... He was a model student-athlete."
Now Gaboury is on to the next phase of his golf career. He's working two jobs this summer, including at Lake of Isles where he'll use the range in his spare time. He'll also squeeze in some rounds with his father, Stephen.
He'll attend Mitchell College and play golf there. He's leaning toward majoring in criminal justice.
The Day's 2018 All-Area Golf Team
Player of the Year - Sam Gaboury (Montville)
Evan Kluge (East Lyme)
Pat Looney (Old Lyme)
Peter Macadam (Old Lyme)
Matt Orefice (East Lyme)
Ryan Sadosky (Waterford)