2021 Gazette Golf Player of the Year: Piet Hartman, Amherst

  • Amherst sophomores Piet Hartman, left, and Chase Lashway take their drives off the fifth tee at Amherst Golf Club during the Hurricanes' dual meet against East Longmeadow on Aug. 30. Staff photo/kevin gutting

  • Amherst sophomore Piet Hartman takes his first putt on the par-3 fourth hole at Amherst Golf Club during the Hurricanes' dual meet against East Longmeadow on Aug. 30. staff photo/kevin gutting

Staff Writer
Published: 1/3/2022 3:47:31 PM
Modified: 1/3/2022 3:46:52 PM
(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of eight stories, highlighting the players of the year and all-stars from the fall 2021 season in the Gazette coverage area.)

The grind of golf attracted Amherst Regional sophomore Piet Hartman when his grandfather introduced him to the game.

Robert DeBoer, Hartman’s mother’s father, lived on Cape Cod during Hartman’s youth and took his grandson to the Chatham Links or Cranberry Valley Golf Course in Harwich, teaching his grandson the short game before he was strong enough to play the full course.

“You’ve got to put in the hours to get good. It’s all a mental game, which intrigued me when I first played it,” said Hartman, the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s 2021 Boys Golf Player of the Year. “I got hooked from there.”

He trailed behind the Hurricanes practice rounds at Cherry Hill Golf Course as a fifth grader, playing the course after his mother Kristin DeBoer dropped him off.

“You could tell right away there was something special about him as a golfer,” Amherst coach Carl Vigeland said. “He’s a special person. He loves the etiquette of the game, not just the game itself. He feels, when you watch him play, he belongs out there.”

Hartman belonged on Vigeland’s varsity squad immediately. He was playing in the No. 3 position during match play as a seventh grader in 2018. It took time to adjust to playing at the high school level among experienced players.

“It was definitely intimidating. We call in first tee jitters,” Hartman said. “I definitely had it in seventh and eighth grade.”

Those dissipated over the past two years as he honed his game outside the high school season. Hartman played in summer tournaments with the Connecticut PGA and local junior club championships. He’s won the past two junior club titles at Amherst Golf Club, where the Hurricanes practice and play now.

“High stress, high pressure,” Hartman said. “That experience translated to me being comfortable at bigger high school tournaments.”

He played some of his best golf when the stakes were highest. Hartman went 11-3-2 as the Hurricanes No. 1 in match play and tied Longmedow’s Ryan Downes – the defending Cape Cod National Golf Club HS Invitational champion – in stroke play on Aug. 31. He and fellow Amherst sophomore Chase Lashway won the PVIAC Two-Ball title thanks to a long birdie putt by Lashway on the final hole.

They started at the 17th hole and sat at a blistering five strokes under par after a few holes before a double bogey on a par five “we should have birdied,” Hartman said. Figuring they couldn’t win after that, the pair aimed for a number rather than a placing.

Since they couldn’t check the other teams’ scores as they played, they didn’t realize how close they were getting to the top of the leaderboard. On No. 16, their final hole, Hartman hit a decent drive while Lashway smoked a stronger hit. Hartman then laid up while Lashway went for the green. His shot landed a little short, then Lashway made a “25-foot downhill breaker,” Hartman said, that ended up winning it.

“Looking back now, it was a lot bigger than it seemed in the moment,” Hartman said. “You’ve gotta take every shot like it’s your last, put all your focus into each shot. Any tournament, really. If you don’t see a scoreboard, you don’t know what’s going on outside of your group.”

He carried that focus into the championship tournaments. Hartman placed fifth at the Division I Western Massachusetts tournament to qualify for his first state tournament. Then at Plainville’s Wentworth Hills Golf Club, a course he’d never seen before, in atrocious weather, Hartman shot a 75 and tied for eighth, the best finish by any golfer from Western Mass.

“I’m sure internally he feels things, but he doesn’t let his nerves show. They not only don’t seem to affect how he plays, they seem to focus him,” Vigeland said. “He’s got an amazing ability to pay attention to what he’s doing. It’s intangibles that are the difference between playing OK and playing really well.”

How Hartman approaches the game between shots and after the round is as important as how many strokes it takes him to put the ball in the hole. He always remembers to shake hands after a match and take his cap off. He’ll thank the club professional for the opportunity to play the course.

A lot of that comes from how his grandfather taught him to play.

“My grandfather is a serious person. I got a little of that from him. Being around a bunch of good players engraved how you act on a golf course into me,” Hartman said. “If you’re going to be serious on the course you might as well learn how to be serious off the course. I’ve taken quite a bit from golf and applied it to the rest of my life.”

Golf All-Stars First team

Connor Asselin, senior, Hopkins Academy

Riley Breen, junior, Belchertown

Ryan Cetto, eight grade, Frontier

Keegan Earle, senior, South Hadley

Galen Fowles, sophomore, Northampton

Reilly Fowles, freshman, Northampton

Ben Gardiner, senior, South Hadley

Piet Hartman, sophomore, Amherst

Chase Lashway, sophomore, Amherst

Jack Mattison-Gulotta, sophomore, Northampton

Ryan O’Neil, senior, Belchertown

Brady Perkins, junior, Belchertown

Evan Yurko, senior, Northampton

Levi Zielinski, junior, Hampshire

Second team

Bennett Allen, sophomore, South Hadley

Ben Anderson, junior, Belchertown

Taylor Barry, junior, Hopkins Academy

Kevin Baumann, senior, Frontier

Brayden Fennessy, seventh grader, Hampshire

Nick Hartley, junior, South Hadley

Tanner Kmetz, seventh grade, Easthampton

Tyler McDonald, sophomore, Belchertown

Ben O’Connor, sophomore, Northampton

Ben Oates, senior Amherst

Henry Poissant, sophomore, Belchertown

Camille Richmond, senior, Northampton


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