Having claimed the championship title for three years in a row, the boys’ golf team is driving straight for the goal again this year. Behind the ambition there is the leadership of a new head coach — former assistant coach and current physical education teacher Juan Lopez. Lopez takes a different strategy in this sport, stressing the importance of physical strength and overall fitness in addition to improving their technique.
The team has trained with three coaches in the past two seasons. Coach Mitchell Wagner had been a part of the team for four years, but left due to personal reasons. “He had a very hands-on approach,” senior co-captain Scott Bang said. “He focused more on the technical side.”
After parting with Wagner last season, Lopez and athletic director Robert Ray collaborated as new coaches. “The challenge was not really having a coach to point out what we did wrong,” Bang said. As a result, the players depended on each other for corrections and advice. “We went through it as a team,” Bang said. “On the championship, when it actually mattered, we broke 400 strokes. It was a big accomplishment for us.” Before the championship, the team set a goal to get under 400 strokes — the added result from the five lowest scores.
“The challenge was not really having a coach to point out what we did wrong”
SCOTT BANG, Co-Captain
This season, Lopez has taken the role as head coach. “[Now that] coach Lopez is more experienced with the team, he knows what we should be focusing on,” sophomore co-captain Sam Miller said.
Transitioning from being a soccer coach to a golf coach, Lopez was pleased to find a similarity between the two sports. “You can think of the club as your leg,” he said. “It’s the same principle of swinging and making contact with the object.”
Based on what happened last year at regional playoffs, coach Lopez felt that the team needed more time to practice. “Competitions in Nor-Cal outdrove us,” Lopez said. “I feel that in the long run, we need to build our strength to have further distance in our drive.”
In order to reach their highest potential, the team schedules Mondays and Wednesdays for golf training at Harding Park. They alternate with weight training in the weight room on Tuesdays and Thursdays. “It’s worth it, we feel like all this practice will get us to the championship [this year],” Bang said. “Even though golf is an individual sport, having a strong coach like that makes a big difference.”
Lopez wants the golfers to work on their short game — standing 10 to 40 yards off the green — where the shots require more finesse. He also wants them to work on their putting — positioning on the green — and sinking the ball into the cup, according to Bang. “That’s when you have to minimize your strokes,” Bang said. “It is arguably the most important part of golf.”
Ten golfers are forming a solid team this season, three of whom are new to the team, including two experienced freshmen golfers — Aidan Ferrer and Brendan Lin — and junior Harrison Lee, who is stepping into the starting lineup this season. “The challenge of last year was having a lot of players, and not as much practice,” Miller said. However, with four fewer members than last year, Miller believes that “the team is more focused.”