Culver City Observer -

It's Looking Good For Culver Golf

Sports Reporter

 

April 13, 2017

Fred Altieri

Centaur golfers (L-R) Aiden Zalma, Jairus Montgomery, Michael Goldberg and Brennon Byrd at Rancho Park Golf Course

Yes, Culver City High has a golf team. Not surprisingly, many of school's students and teachers are also not aware of this fact. The sprawling athletic fields that adorn the campus supporting the more traditional team sports perhaps add to the adage: out of sight, out of mind. High school golf is not a spectator sport and not played on school grounds.

But change is in the air, on the tees, the greens, fairways and bunkers. For the past few seasons, Centaur golfers have been swinging away to change the image and increase the awareness of the program. Very few know that a Culver City golfer won the Ocean League individual title last season. Next season the team expects to challenge for the league team championship.

This season 12 Centaur golfers and three-year head coach Adan Pulido continue to build and expect to establish a program that will compete with the rest of the South Bay golfing powers in the near future. Two recent losses to Mira Costa High is indicative of how much more work needs to be done but the gap is certainly shrinking.

"For too long Culver City High golf has just had a club. It hasn't been a team. We've only had enough to make matches. Since I've been here we've increased our roster every year," said Coach Pulido, a Culver High alumni and former Centaur quarterback.

"Our main priority is to help improve the program. These players will be looked upon as the pillars of our golf program. I preach to my kids now that they are the foundation. Our team is still young enough that I definitely like our chances to compete for league next season and make CIF team playoffs."

On Tuesday afternoon this week the team was at Rancho Park Golf Course hitting balls on the driving range before teeing off to play a practice round in preparation for Thursday's match with Beverly Hills High at the same course.

Culver hopes to even its league record to 2-2 after having beaten the Normans 209-221 in their first Ocean League match on Monday at Alondra Golf Course in Lawndale. Their first two league losses to Mira Costa occurred two weeks ago at Alondra and Chester Washington Golf Course in South Los Angeles.

Pulido: "Against Beverly Hills we shot a 209, the lowest we've shot this season. That was nice to see. My number three golfer shot one-over par. That was exciting. My number one and two golfers shot four and five-over, respectively. My number four, who's a freshman, shot five-over.

"To make CIF team playoffs we have to win our league to automatically be in the playoffs. If we don't win league we have to petition CIF. In order to petition we need eight scores that are qualifying. We got one today so that was important. We have seven more matches to shoot low enough to qualify each match."

The Centaur golf team is 2-4 overall. They defeated West Torrance to open the season before losing to Redondo High. Both matches were played at Alondra. The third match was a loss to Peninsula High at Lakewood Golf Course before the Ocean League contests with Mira Costa.

"We didn't do bad as a team but Peninsula is a very strong team. But it was more of a practice round for League Finals we'll be playing at Lakewood. I just wanted the team to get a practice round in," said Pulido.

"We started league against Mira Costa. Both matches resulted in wins for Mira Costa. I thought we were going to compete with Costa. It didn't work out the way I had planned. They're definitely the cream of the crop for the Ocean League."

The Centaurs are led by team captain and senior Noah Nordquist. He's the team's number one seeded golfer. Number two on the chart is Carlos Ritchie, a junior. Number three seed is Austin Davis. Number four is Jackson Nordquist, a freshman and Noah's younger brother. Ben Viscara-Barton, a sophomore, rounds out the top five.

"My golfers are supportive of one another. Noah, our captain, is averaging about two to three over par for the season. He's made a tremendous amount of progress in his short game. It's enabled him to make clutch par putts to keep his momentum and the round going," said Pulido.

"Carlos' strength this season has definitely been his driving. He's gotten stronger and has been driving the ball 270-280 yards. He's improved on his length and we're getting him to work on finishing his birdie putts.

"Austin Davis is a natural talent. I met him a couple of years ago when he was a freshman and playing baseball. He decided to give golf a try. He has been consistently practicing at night the past two years to improve. You can see it by today's round of one-over. Things really clicked and he's starting to dial in the distance for his clubs.

"Jackson Nordquist plays competitive tournaments in the summer. He is someone that could potentially come up and bring home the individual title for the Ocean League Championships. He has the experience and knows what it takes to compete against other schools and opponents. He has a very quiet demeanor and confidence about him that extends beyond the golf course."

"Ben Vizcarra-Barton shoots consistently even though he just started playing golf five or six months ago. He also comes from baseball. He's a very natural athlete. His swing looks like he's been golfing for a lot longer than he has been.

"Justin Harikawa, now graduated and continuing to play golf in college at the D-2 level won the Ocean League individual stroke play title last season. The two-round tournament took place at LakewoodCountry Club and Skylinks at Long Beach Golf Course. And that will be the pattern for this year," added Pulido.

Fred Altieri

Senior captain Noah Nordquist checks his backswing position at Rancho Park Golf Course driving range

Preparation for the matches is something Pulido is still working on. He likes putting in a lot of rounds for his players schedule or scheduling matches against themselves to give the golfers a feel of what it's like to compete.

His top five scorers or the top five best averages are guaranteed to play each match. The sixth and seventh seeds compete against the last five positions to see who plays the upcoming match. Seven golfers are allowed to compete each match with the lowest five scores calculated for the team score.

Pulido concluded: "For the remainder of the season I want to see the players set goals for themselves on improving their trouble areas. I don't want to put the pressure on them to shoot a certain score. I want them to use these matches to fine-tune their skill set. So that come league finals they're ready to go."

 

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