Culver City Observer -

Culver Golf Team Is On The Rise

 

Fred Altieri

The Centaur golf team

By Fred Altieri

Sports Reporter

For the greater part of the country the golf season unofficially begins in April with the Masters Golf Tournament in Georgia on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National Golf Club.

In Southern California the Culver City High golf team officially began its season weeks ago in March at Alondra Golf Course, a Los Angeles County public track in Lawndale.

The Centaurs got off to a sweeping start by taking two matches from Bay League opponent Redondo High. Considering that last year's squad had to forfeit every team match due to a lack of players it's quite a turn-around for the program. And for the first time in recent memory Culver High has a very good chance of making the CIF Playoffs.

The team has a new head coach who along with the rest of the school owes a debt of gratitude to the former coach. Adan Pulido, a history major from CSU Dominguez Hills who attended the Culver City elementary, middle and high schools, and is currently a substitute teacher in the CCUSD system has taken over the reigns from longtime Centaur golf coaching legend Bruce Unoura.

Pulido is grateful to have been offered a program that has a future worth fostering and players worth following. He gave his thoughts as the team prepared to take on its next league opponent, Palos Verdes High:

"Bruce laid down the groundwork and is the pillar for Culver City golf. He kept Culver High golf on the map," he said.

"If it wasn't for Bruce and Coach Salter (Culver High A.D.) continuing the program for the past few years I don't know if I would be here today because I don't think we would have had a golf team. The amount of sweat and money out of his own account that he put into golf... we owe him a great deal and the players on the team know that.

"I've inherited a pretty solid team with three returning players, a senior, a junior and a sophomore. Word got out that we were going to make some waves. So now we have 10 students on the team: two girls and eight boys."

The current roster features two seniors: Brendan Nwokekoro and Harrison Schneider; five juniors: Justin Harikawa, Dylan Bergmans, Colin Heffner, Grace Campbell and Eva Fiallos; one sophomore: Noah Nordquist and two freshmen: Carlos Ritchie and Elijah Valdez.

The Centaurs are in position to move into third place in the tough Bay League that includes Palos Verdes and Peninsula along with Redondo, Mira Costa, Beverly Hills, Compton Centennial. The team is now 2-2 after losing twice to Peninsula, including once at the beautiful Palos Verdes Country Club.

"We started off the league by beating Redondo by five or six strokes. Our players were really excited and it was great momentum for us. Then we faced Peninsula on their home course but I think it got into our heads and most of my kids played poorly that day," stated Pulido.

"However Harrison Schneider had the best round of his life. He was at one over going into the seventh hole. That was impressive. He birdied one hole, a par five where he left his third shot about six inches from the hole. It was a great birdie"

"The next day we played them on our home course at Alondra. Two of the Peninsula players are better than scratch golfers and the rest are scratch golfers. We still lost but the showing was a lot better and we shot under the 210 mark. That was encouraging for the team."

Pulido on his players: "Brendan Nwokekoro has been a great captain and leader. He's sharing with me so much knowledge so that I can help the underclassmen: "Hey, get us into this tournament or that one where the players get seen and known about." I believe he has the skill sets to compete at the next level where he's trying to get a scholarship to a local university.

"Justin Harikawa has been on the team since he was a freshman. But more importantly is his motivation, drive and initiative that he's taking to practice. He's probably the number one player on the team based on his scores and is a great team player.

"Carlos Ritchie has a handicap of one or two right now. Elijah Valdez is definitely making strides and has been shaving strokes off every single time out.

"We have two girls, Grace Campbell and Eva Fiallos, who are playing. They're enthusiastic and are looking to help grow the team so that we have more players next year.

Fred Altieri

Team captain Brendan Nwokekoro

"Noah Nordquist is about a four or five handicap. He's getting better and has a younger brother in middle school who plays and is going to be coming up. So the future is great."

Westchester Golf Course is the Centaurs' home course for practice and playing rounds there and at Rancho Park Golf Course as well. "I'm trying to change things up to practice more on the actual golf courses. This year more than ever we've gotten out to play more often," said Pulido.

"I'm impressed in how the players have carried themselves, with their composure on the course, their enthusiasm for the team and the camaraderie that has been unfolding. At the end of the year they will realize how much closer they've become because of golf and their interest in wanting to make their teammates better. All in all I'm impressed that we have a team."

 

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