Gary Benerofe and Steve Gray
1999 and 2005 team captains
Gary Benerofe (Class of 1999) and Steve Gray (Class of 2005) tell similar stories. They were both good junior golfers who were not thinking about Yale. Benerofe was living in Westchester County, New York, and preparing to attend Duke or the University of Michigan, when Coach Paterson called. Gray was in Kansas City and planning to attend San Diego State University and later play golf professionally, when the call came.
Neither Benerofe nor Gray knew why they were invited to visit Yale but they came to take a look. Benerofe remembers that he was “sold on attending Yale … after a raucous weekend with the golf team.” Gray came and toured the course when it was covered with snow, and met some of the team members. He was “drawn to the university, and changed his plans, with the encouragement of his grandmother.”
In Benerofe’s first year on the team (1995), there were only ten players and half of them were freshman. By his senior year, the team’s success as Ivy League champions in 1996 and 1997 and strong recruiting resulted in twenty-five to thirty players competing for the six tournament slots. As a senior he was elected captain, even though he received the second highest number of votes. The 1998 captain and his roommate, Scott Brinker, had been a junior when he was elected. He was reelected in 1999, but requested that Coach Paterson select the person who had received the second highest number of votes “so that someone else could have the great experience.”
Benerofe received an MBA from UCLA in 2005. He is now working in his family’s real estate business, Benerofe Properties. He reports that he “recently picked the game back up and loves it again, like I did when I was thirteen.” He continues to value the role that Coach Paterson played in his life. Benerofe says that Paterson “was like a second father to me and many others.”
In 2006 Steve Gray was not playing golf professionally, as he had once planned; he was working on his Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology at Columbia. He was also assisting Coach Paterson with the team on weekends. In 2003, Gray had been a member of the team that won the Ivy Championship and was team captain in 2005. For Gray the best memories come from the team’s spring trips: first to Scotland, where they played Troon and St. Andrews, then to California, where they played Pebble Beach, Spyglass, Cypress Point, and Riviera. As a junior, he was able to play Colonial and Hilton Head and in his senior year, some Florida courses. Gray observed that “You can see that after more than thirty years, Coach has made some great contacts.” He described “Coach” as “old school”: “He can be harsh and a disciplinarian, though never on the course. He has some interesting metaphors and kernels of wisdom.” Coach Paterson was as influential as many of Gray’s professors and, “compared to other college coaches, much more open to his players’ personal and academic growth.”