It’s no secret that St. John’s Prep has dominated the North Shore golf scene for the better part of the last decade-plus.
Since 2005, the Eagles have garnered seven of the 11 Salem News Golfer of the Year awards while earning numerous state titles in the process. This fall, they’ve got another stable of excellent golfers and a team built to make a run at a state crown.
Not only have senior captains Mark Turner and Chris Franceour returned to the links for stellar farewell campaigns, but fellow senior Griffin Chenard has joined them at the top of the lineup while emerging as one of the best golfers in the state.
Chenard, who averaged a very respectable 9-hole score of 39 a season ago, has taken his game to the next level, having carded an incredible seven rounds under-par in a dozen matches this season.
His secret? A hefty increase on his driving distance.
“This year is definitely a lot different because I’ve gained a lot of distance on my tee shots over the winter,” said Chenard, whose sensational play has helped the Eagles to a Catholic Conference best 21-1 record. They won the league title Wednesday by defeating B.C. High by five strokes. “I’ve been able to have shorter irons in to each hole and have been more accurate with my irons because of it, which means more opportunities for birdies.
“My mindset last year was to hit greens and get two-putts for par. But this year, I can aim to get it closer and have more makeable putts.”
While Chenard got some rounds in down south over the offseason to fine-tune his game, he credits his indoor sessions at Bosse Sports in Sudbury under the guidance of Chris Carpenter as the biggest difference maker. Add in consistent time in the weight room, and the combination has been the perfect recipe for his success on the links.
“I probably gained 40-50 yards on my driver over the winter,” said Chenard, who uses a Callaway Big Bertha driver off the tee and Titleist AP2 irons from the fairway. “Last year I was hitting in the low-to-mid 200s, but now I’m close to 285-290 consistently.”
In addition to his numerous sub-par rounds, Chenard’s newfound long ball helped him take home the Catholic Conference Individual Championship at Black Swan Country Club earlier this fall with an even par 72. Before that, he became the youngest ever to win his club’s championship at Breakfast Hill in Greenland, N.H.
Of course, having the luxury of playing with the likes of Franceour and Turner, as well as other excellent teammates such as Will Grady, Trent Han and Cole English, allows Chenard to further increase his own game. With Chenard now always a threat to break par on an Eagles’ team full of talent, St. John’s Prep should be in the mix to make a run for its second state title in as many years.
“(Playing with those guys) definitely helps me because it pushes me and everyone else on the team. We want to play well and put up good scores,” said Chenard. “Especially having Chris and Mark out there, too; all three of us just push each other. If one of us has a bad round, we’re there for each other and can pick up each other’s slack.”
Chenard hasn’t decided where he’ll continue his golf career, but has considered a number of Division 1 and Division 3 schools. For now, he’ll look to sustain his remarkable pace on the course in his senior season — with hopes of hoisting one more championship trophy.