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Golfing boom affects boys, girls high school teams

Senior Libby Fleming of Torrey Pines won last season’s section title for girls.
Senior Libby Fleming of Torrey Pines won last season’s section title for girls.
(K.C. Alfred)

Tee times more scarce as high school teams play condensed season

There has never been a golf season like this in San Diego Section history.

First, the girls golfing season is normally during the fall season with the boys season coming in the spring.

This season — which recently began — has both playing at the same time courtesy of the coronavirus pandemic.

That combination has caused some problems beyond just the boys and girls playing at the same time.

Normally on match day, golf courses around San Diego County generously donate four tee-off times to accommodate three times for players and one for the coaches.

Some teams have negotiated with their home courses to continue that format with boys playing on certain days and the girls playing on two different days.

Other teams must play boys and girls on the same days, forcing the courses to donate seven tee times — three for boys and three for girls in addition to the coaching foursome.

And some teams are moving from starting times of 3-3:30 p.m. to a bit later, like 4:30 p.m. or so because of an explosion of interest by the public in playing or learning to play golf during the stay-at-home work day instead of working eight hours in an office.

Teams starting at 4:30 will be hard-pressed to finish the nine-hole match before darkness hits until daylight savings time begins next weekend.

“There was not a date I asked for (at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa) that we didn’t get,” said La Costa Canyon High coach Casey Sovacool, whose team has won three straight section Division II titles and the state championship in 2019, the last season for boys golf before the virus caused a statewide lockdown.

The Mavericks will have to share tee times at Omni with Torrey Pines, Santa Fe Christian and Carlsbad.

“Everyone has been resigned that when we get back to playing it was not going to be like it was before,” said Sovacool, also an assistant football coach.

Teams from the San Diego Unified District will be playing Monday through Thursday on Balboa and Mission Bay golf courses.

Riverwalk Golf Course raised its prices and the Admiral Baker Golf Course, the site of the CIF Finals in recent years, declined to have high school golfers on its course at this time.

“We were worried the new interest in golf from the public would hurt us coming back,” said Scott Giusti, the director of athletics for the district. “If Balboa had not stepped up for us, we’d be dead in the water.”

In the South Bay, the Metro Conference will play at Bonita Vista, Chula Vista and National City courses, but not at Eastlake.

“We’ll make it work,” said Alex Estrada, the program manager of athletics for the district. “We’re going to play boys on two days and girls on two different days.

“We cut league play from two rounds to just one so that we can get in some kind of season for our athletes.”

A few individual golfers have bypassed this long-delayed season. Some have transferred schools. Others have gone to home schooling to participate in national tournaments instead of for their high school team.

Golfers must contend with no hugs or hand shakes at matches, and wearing masks is a priority, even in an outdoor sport like golf.

“We require our kids to wear masks the whole time on the course,” Torrey Pines coach Chris Drake said. “We’re trying to keep our kids and the community safe.”

Senior Libby Fleming of Torrey Pines won last year’s section title for girls.

—Terry Monahan is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Players to watch

GIRLS

Libby Fleming (Torrey Pines) Sr.

Janae Leovao (El Camino) Jr.

Taylor Riley (Point Loma) Jr.

Jasmine Leovao (El Camino) Jr.

Meghan Royal (Carlsbad) Jr.

Sofina Firouzi (Canyon Crest) Jr.

Estibaly Garcia (Mater Dei Catholic) Sr.

Lynn Pham (University City) Jr.

Casey Yu (Rancho Bernardo) Jr.

Lauren Coast (Rancho Bernardo) Sr.

Montserrat Ramirez (Mater Dei Catholic) Sr.

Mary Damian (Coronado) Sr.

Michelle Yi (Canyon Crest) Sr.

Annika Yturralde (Steele Canyon) Jr.

Note: Playoffs will be June 1 (Oceanside Municipal Golf Course) and June 3 (Omni La Costa Resort & Spa). The SoCal Tournament is June 16 at Brookside Golf Course (Pasadena). There is no state tournament.

BOYS

Jonas Appel (La Costa Canyon) Jr.

Caden Pinckes (La Costa Canyon) So.

Connor Williams (San Pasqual) Fr.

Matt Broder (Torrey Pines) So.

Jay Leng (Torrey Pines) Fr.

Easton Phillips (Coronado) Jr.

Eric Doyle (Cathedral Catholic) Sr.

Landon Elliott (La Costa Canyon) Jr.

Kevin Jiang (Cathedral Catholic) Sr.

Shea Lague (Steele Canyon) Sr.

Rei Harashima (Eastlake) Jr.

Kevin Kang (Rancho Bernardo) Jr.

Aiden Danko (Carlsbad) Sr.

Yuefeng Ma (Cathedral Catholic) Sr.

Steven Deutsch (Olympian) Sr.

Note: Playoffs will be June 7 (St. Mark’s Golf Course) and June 10 (Omni La Costa Resort & Spa). The SoCal Tournament is June 16 at Brookside Golf Course (Pasadena). There is no state tournament.

— TERRY MONAHAN


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