Bernstein bears down for state title

PDS sophomore ends golf season on high note

By: Justin Feil
   If Chad Bernstein’s golf season had ended Tuesday with a season-worse 45 at Bedens Brook, a week after a disappointing day at the Mercer County Tournament, he might not have been so satisfied with his sophomore season at Princeton Day School.
   After all, those performances didn’t seem to be indicative of what an influence he had all season. He had been consistently the top Panther player and helped the team to a 14-2 record and the Patriot Conference title. Thankfully, he had a chance to redeem himself on Thursday at the Prep B Championships.
   Bernstein did so in grand fashion, shooting a 75 on the Peddie Golf Course to win the individual title.
   "Up until that point, I was fairly happy with how my season had gone," the Lawrenceville resident said. "That turns what was a decent season into a much more satisfying season."
   About the only thing that could have topped it off was if the Panthers had been able to win the team title. Instead, they slipped to third with a total of 342. The winners, Newark Academy, shot 329.
   "We all knew we’d have to go low and shoot one of our better rounds of the year," Bernstein said. "Maybe some of the other guys put too much pressure on themselves. We should have just gone out and had fun. But we’re still a young team. At the state tournament, it was four sophomores and a junior. We’re all hoping to get better."
   For Bernstein, it means becoming more consistent with his putter and driver. They flip-flopped being strengths and weaknesses for him this season.
   "In the first half of the season, I was concentrating well on putting and couldn’t hit it," Bernstein said. "Then, in the second half, I couldn’t hit it, but I could putt."
   At the shorter Peddie course, Bernstein could just about put away his driver and rely on his irons. He used his driver once, and double-bogeyed nine. He did not use it again and played steady golf in the back nine.
   "When I came in, I personally knew I had played decently," he said. "But you never know. Last year, I remember lower scores there, but maybe because mine was higher. I think I shot in the high 80s."
   By dedicating himself more, however, Bernstein was able to improve over the past year and make himself into a threat at any tournament.
   "A lot has changed," he said. "Probably the biggest thing is my putting. I never spent any time on putting last year. This year, I did and I was a decent putter. I still have a lot to do."
   Bernstein has a busy summer of golf planned, with county tournaments at Mountain View and Mercer Oaks. He’ll play in the Philadelphia Junior PGA and try to qualify for the Wesfield PGA.
   And, after closing the high school season on such a high note, he’s anxious to keep improving in hopes of making next season even better.