Scarpati becomes golf club champ ... at age 14

The average age of the women’s club champions at Ridgewood Country Club is now a tad younger.

The adjustment came over Labor Day weekend, as Ridgefield resident Mia Scarpati won three straight matches to win the title at Ridgewood, a private course in Danbury. All of the previous women’s club champions were at least 30 years old — Scarpati is 14.

“It is a little odd as I am used to junior tournament play against girls my age or a little bit older,” said Scarpati. “The older players are really nice though, and although we generally kept to ourselves as we were being as focused as possible, we both offered encouraging remarks to each other as well as compliments.”

Two of Scarpati’s victories were close: She won her first match by a score of 1-up and the title match by a score of 2 & 1 (a two-hole lead with one hole remaining).

“I played consistently well on the last day up until the 14th hole, when I realized my opponent had a chance to come back and beat me if she won out,” said Scarpati, who got her first set of clubs when she was four years old and has been playing competitively for the last three years. “I let this get to my head and I started to make some stupid mistakes.

“At that point I was 5-up, but she won the hole and then the next two as well. However, I managed to win the 17th hole (I parred; she bogeyed) to win the whole match.”

Scarpati said advice from her caddy came in handy.

“The shots that were working best [for me] were a half swing with my gap wedge to fly it about 50-60 yards, and the same shot with my pitching wedge when the wind began to kick in,” said Scarpati. “I have to give the credit to my caddy for the pitching wedge shot and a bump and run with my gap wedge as I honestly wouldn’t have thought to do that without him.”

As a freshman last spring, Scarpati was the top player on the Ridgefield High girls golf team. She shot an 81 to finish third in the individual standings at the FCIAC championship and had an 86 to place 15th at the state championship.

But Scarpati won’t be back for the Tigers next spring — she has transferred to Choate Rosemary Hall, a private school in Wallingford, where she is now a sophomore.

“A lot went into the decision to leave RHS to go to Choate,” said Scarpati. “To be honest, golf wasn’t a huge part of it. Academically, Choate is incredible, which was a large part of the decision (although RHS has excellent academics as well), and overall I felt that Choate would offer me more opportunities in many different areas simply because of the many more courses it has to offer, and the smaller student-to-teacher ratio.

“It was a tough decision, but only for the social aspect as it was difficult to leave my friends behind,” added Scarpati. “I still keep in touch though, and plan to visit them on weekends when I’m home.”