About six years ago, Dan Singer found his father’s old golf clubs while cleaning the basement with his mother.
Little did Singer know that the discovery would lead to a love affair with the sport.
Now Singer plays golf as much as he can. He expects to spend a great deal of his summer at Fox Hopyard Golf Club in East Haddam where he’s a member.
“I’ll be there probably every day this summer,” Singer said.
Singer, The Day’s 2021 All-Area Golfer of the Year, had a busy and successful senior season with East Lyme High School, winning the individual title at the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship by four strokes. He was named to the All-ECC Division I first team and also excelled academically.
“He’s just a good kid to have on your team,” coach Rudy Bagos said. “He’s a quiet kid that keeps to himself but he gets along with everybody. … But he’s not a loner. He was our No. 1 golfer but he led by example more than being a ‘rah-rah’ guy.”
If not for discovering his father’s old clubs, Singer might be still playing baseball, which was his favorite spring sport until picking up golf.
“I was a baseball player for a very long time and I started playing golf in seventh grade,” Singer said. “It really just happened because I found my dad’s old golf clubs — he’s a lefty and I’m a righty — as we were cleaning out the basement. I didn’t really have any experience with golf. I thought it was a lazy sport before that.
“As a baseball player, I picked up his clubs and started swinging them lefty, hitting a plastic ball around the yard. I was interested in it.”
That same week, Singer turned on the television and noticed that the U.S. Open was on.
“I started watching that and that really got me hooked,” Singer said.
From there, Singer dove right into the sport. He bought some used clubs at a local driving range and took off from there. He basically taught himself to play.
“I’ve probably taken two golf lessons in my life,” Singer said. “When something is not right in my swing, even if the fix isn’t perfect, I just go to the driving range and just try things until it works and then just repeat that.”
Singer joined the East Lyme golf team as a sophomore. He was a natural, earning a spot as the No. 5 golfer. He typically shot in the low- to mid-40s.
The Vikings won the ECC championship in 2019 for the first time in 46 years.
“That was such a good year,” Singer said. “It was my first year of competitive golf. So it was just a good year for me to get in the experience of playing competitively, ironing out my swing in a competitive setting and then just really focusing on improving my game so that this year and last year, if we had a season, I could really help my team by putting up some really low scores.”
During the pandemic last season, Singer continued to improve while playing with his teammates at Fox Hopyard. He always appreciated the competition within the team.
“Going to the golf course every day, it just got me excited,” Singer said.
Singer ended his high school career in style, playing two strong rounds.
On June 3, Singer won medalist honors at the ECC championship at Connecticut National Golf Club in Putnam. His 2-over 73 helped the Vikings place second as a team.
“I was just so glad to see him put everything together in the ECC tournament,” Bagos said.
Four days later at the CIAC Division II Championship at Timberlin Golf Course in Berlin, Singer fired a 78 to tie for 16th place in the competitive field and helped the Vikings finish seventh.
“I’m really just happy that it ended the way that it did,” Singer said. “Obviously, I wish we could have won as a team. But I think I’m just happy that I finished with two rounds that I could be proud of. … I know I can look back at my high school golf experience and know that I gave it my all in the end.”
The state tournament also marked the end of his competitive golf career.
There is no golf team at Union College in Schenectady, New York, where he’s heading this fall.
He’ll continue to play on his own. He’s worried that long winters in New York will limit the number of rounds he can play.
“I’m going to have to find some indoor place to play at,” Singer said. “I think it’s a great sport.”
Singer, who enjoys being outdoors, plans to study environmental science.