Girls’ Golf Swings to Victory

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Girls’ Golf Swings to Victory

Sophomore and golfer Maddie Amlen rehearses her back swing at the first hole, preparing herself for a challenge throughout the match. Golfers on the high school level play nine holes in total, compared to the 18 that professionals play.

Sophomore and golfer Maddie Amlen rehearses her back swing at the first hole, preparing herself for a challenge throughout the match. Golfers on the high school level play nine holes in total, compared to the 18 that professionals play.

Jaein Kim

Sophomore and golfer Maddie Amlen rehearses her back swing at the first hole, preparing herself for a challenge throughout the match. Golfers on the high school level play nine holes in total, compared to the 18 that professionals play.

Jaein Kim

Jaein Kim

Sophomore and golfer Maddie Amlen rehearses her back swing at the first hole, preparing herself for a challenge throughout the match. Golfers on the high school level play nine holes in total, compared to the 18 that professionals play.

Jaein Kim, Staff Writer

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Girls’ golf (3-5) celebrated a victory at a home match at San Juan Hills Golf Club on Sept. 26 against Irvine High. Ending with a score of 238-264, Portola High currently ranks fourth out of six teams in the Pacific Coast League, right above Northwood and Irvine high schools.

Unlike other sports, which are team-based and heavily reliant on mid-game coaching, golf focuses more on individual performance. Players go out onto the field in pairs, and the coach follows them from behind, supervising and facilitating so that the match runs as it should.

“When you’re playing you’re only playing with one other player,” head coach Wind Ralston said. “When you hit, it’s not like the whole team cheers. Golf is a very subdued sport. The players are dependent on themselves and how they play… We, as coaches, can’t even talk to the players between the holes.”

The nature of the game is very independent and numbers-based. Final scores are simply the sum of top five scores out of the six players on each team. There is no room for subjectivity. Hence, there is as much emphasis on strategy as there is on physical ability in golf.

“Golf is very mental… you hit a bad shot, and if you hit another bad shot, then all of a sudden you’ve hit poorly on that hole,” Ralston said. “The girls know how to hit a ball. They all know how to chip, and they all know how to putt. But sometimes competition becomes mentally challenging and mentally taxing for them.”

Jaein Kim
Sophomore and golfer Gina Lee tees up and marks the start of the second hole as the tension builds between players. Golfers take into consideration not only the direction of the hole, but also the wind, height, air pressure, and temperature.

Athleticism and strategy aside, golfers’ abilities to maintain their patience and endurance throughout the whole match is crucial. Players’ attitudes on the sport and their own performance determine the outcome.

“It’s a really honest game,” sophomore golfer Yasmin Fukushima said. “You can’t have one bad shot mess up your whole attitude. Even if I mess up in the beginning, I can’t just give up. I have to keep trying for my score… Persistence is key.”

Once a match starts and players are out on the course, they are essentially on their own. This makes it difficult for students who are new at golf to join the team. It is crucial for the players to know their own strengths and weaknesses as golfers as well as the sport itself.

“As a golfer, my biggest struggle is consistency,” sophomore golfer Gina Lee said. “Sometimes my mood can be down, or I might be a bit more tired than usual. I have to adapt to that based on the game… I just try to stay calm and remember what I’ve been taught and what I’ve practiced.”

Compared to past years, girls’ golf has improved in performance but has decreased in size. There are currently no seniors on the team due to players transferring to other schools, and no freshmen have joined. This makes the golf team the smallest athletics program on campus.

“Our team is still young, but we know what we need to shoot to be competitive… we just need to overcome and get used to the anxiety of competition to help our game as opposed to hurting it,” Ralston said.