by Cameron Calvillo
For years now, the Reedley High Boys Golf Team has brought pride back to the Pirates. And this year, when the golf courses are greener than ever, they look to do it again.
Every year since 2011, Reedley High has been the league champion in golf, except for the heart break in 2014 when Hoover claimed the title. Other schools in the North Yosemite League include Sunnyside, McClain, Fresno, and Roosevelt High. This year the pressure is on as the Pirates look to defend their title.
The Boys Golf Team is led by Reedley High’s Government teacher Ty Hanson, former teacher and football coach at Sanger High. This is his fourth-year coaching golf and has been preparing some of his players since their freshman year. Since football and golf are practically opposites, I had to ask what it was like for him going from coaching one sport to the other. He responded while he watched his team hit balls on the range, “Well with football, you tell a kid to fix something or do something different, like raise your arm higher or something and boom, just like that you see instant results. You gotta be more patient with golf. You tell a kid to fix something, and first it might get worse before it gets better, and then it’ll take weeks, months, sometimes years before you see results.”
Coach Hanson has been working with players like Mark Rincon since freshman year preparing him for the number on spot on the team. Rincon now holds that spot as a senior and has proven himself to be one of the best players in the league, but not without a little bit of work. “Yeah,” he said chuckling, “Hanson’s always on me for my hip movement, hand placement, wrist overlap, whatever it is… and not doing my government homework. But he’s been training me for the number one spot since freshman year and he’s helped me a lot with improving my swing. Plus, I always have fun working with him.”
But practicing out at Sherwood Forest in Sanger every week involves more than just physically adjusting your swing. Golf, unlike any other sport, is ninety percent mental. Coach Hanson explains, “Golf is almost purely mental. You’re constantly adjusting your swing, and you gotta remember everything you’ve tweaked. Also, if you linger on one bad hit, you can kiss your game good-bye because it’ll mess you up. Even a bad day can ruin or game. Golf is weird like that, one day you’re hitting like a pro, and the next you’re hitting like you’ve never seen a golf club in your life.” A lot of hard work and frustration is put in by the team, but it’s well worth it for a variety of reasons. One being it’s addicting.
If you go out and shoot a hundred baskets and only make one, or score one touchdown all season, it discourages you from playing again. But once again golf separates itself from other sports. If you hit a large bucket, and only get one good shot, the feeling gets you hooked, encourages you, and you will most likely be back next week for another bucket. Scotty Davis, a sophomore playing his second year of golf explains what it’s like. “I don’t hit very many perfect shots, but on the occasions that I do, it’s the best feeling in the world. From the time I start my backswing, I can already feel what’s coming next. When I watch the ball soar a couple hundred yards straight down the fairway, a huge smile instantly grows on my face. It’s a huge sense of relief to know that all those hours and swings that it has taken to get to this point pays off in the end.” When you watch Reedley play, regardless if they are winning or losing, your guaranteed to see a huge smile across someone’s face after they hit a “beautiful shot.”
The reason the Pirates win so often is that they play for the relaxing thrill of the game, not to win. Jacob Peters, a junior playing his third year of golf, puts it nicely, “After a long day of school, it’s so nice to get a breath of fresh air and hit a few balls. It relaxes you, and gets you excited when you hit a perfect shot. I look forward to practice every day, but I try not to have a bad day at school so my swing isn’t messed up.”
In just a few weeks, the Pirates will play their last tournament to defend their championship. All the Pirates back on the ship will be cheering them on as they shake hands, tee up, and set off down the fairway.