Local high school hosts 11th annual ‘Match Play’ at Golden Era Golf Course
■ Muriel Dufresne, Golden Era Productions / Contributed
The 11th annual San Jacinto “Match Play” Tournament was hosted at the Golden Era Golf Course from Feb. 25-27.
This competition is for high school golfers and is played differently than a regular golf tournament. Match Play was started by Coach Steve Simpson when he was the boys’ golf coach at San Jacinto High School. Simpson is currently the Assistant Principal of the school.
As explained by the SJHS PE teacher and current organizer, Ryan George, “Match Play is a competition between two golfers on a hole to hole basis. Instead of counting the points at the end of the 9 or 18 holes, the points are on a hole to hole basis. The goal of each golfer is to win every hole. The golfer who can do this wins the Match Play tournament. The players really enjoy it because it is so different and professional golfers also do Match Play sometimes.”
George further added, “It is a very unique tournament and I am not aware of another school who hosts a Match Play Tournament.”
The Match Play takes place over a course of three days at the Golden Era Golf Course which has been accommodating this tournament since its inception. George said, “Thank you to the Golden Era Golf Course as they are a great host for this tournament and always work with us to make sure the kids have an enjoyable time of golf.”
This year there were 14 high schools that participated with 76 golfers and they were:
San Jacinto High School
Hemet High School
Beaumont High School
Heritage High School
Shadow Hills High School
Hidden Valley High School
San Jacinto Valley Academy
Serrano High School
Apple Valley High School
Citrus Hills High School
Big Bear High School
Coachella Valley High School
Rancho Mirage High School
Cajon High School
The tournament is not just for the boys as this year there were two girls who played with their co-ed teams from Apple Valley and Serrano High Schools.
Caleb Rogers from Heritage High School in Menifee said, “I like it because if you have a blow up hole it doesn’t kill your whole score. This tournament is well organized and a lot of fun.”
Grandfathers for Golf has participated since the inception of this tournament by providing lunch for the kids on the final day. Grandfathers for Golf is a beginner and intermediate program for kids. They often refer advanced kids to the Inland Valley Golf Academy.
Tony Viola, President of GFG said, “I am proud to be part of this tournament and it started with just five high schools. It is wonderful to have this tournament at our home course and have students one day aspire to play in it. On the second day of the tournament we brought our intermediate kids to observe and learn from the high school aged kids in the match play.”
Viola went on to say, “The reputation of this tournament has grown over the past five years exponentially and it benefits our local high school teams to increase their level of competitiveness as well as learning the proper golf etiquette.”
Also on hand at the tournament was Frank McCollum from the Inland Valley Golf Academy. There were five kids that went through his academy who were now in the Match Play representing Hemet and San Jacinto high schools. “The most important thing is teaching young men and women to participate in Match Play competition as high schools usually play stroke play [total score for all holes]. The game of golf teaches kids about respect as the game is self governed – you follow the rules on an honor system. It also teaches camaraderie as they get to meet many other golfers from outside their community,” said McCollum.
Mathew Carrasco who is in the 10th grade at Hemet High was there for all three days of the tournament. He said, “It was fun overall and I met great new friends and I am having a great time.” Mathew started playing golf seven years ago as part of the Grandfathers for Golf program.
“Grandfathers has shown me the sportsmanship of golf; you are a gentleman on the golf course,” says Carrasco. When asked about his future aspirations he claims, “I want to now start playing competition golf and get a golf scholarship and go to San Diego State and join their golf team.”
Tait Peel who is in the 12th grade at San Jacinto High School started playing for Grandfathers for Golf when he was in seventh grade. From the GFG program he said, “I learned the use of every club and the basics of golf and also to not get too angry when you are having a bad day on the course.” Peel said he would love to get a golf scholarship to one of the universities in Utah.
“We are doing what we love and making friends with the other high schools.”
Jacob Maurique from Hemet High did the Grandfathers for Golf program and this is his third year of doing the Match Play and he plans to be back again.
Nicholas Bardsnes from Shadow Hills High School in Indio claimed, “You don’t have to worry about the whole score, it is the battle of the wits.” One of his team mates, Diego, says: “There are a lot of fun people out there and it has improved my skills.”
The runner up winners who only lost one match were:
Justin Hemmati from the San Jacinto Valley Academy
Mathew Carrasco from Hemet High School
Timothy Pew from San Jacinto High School
Telly Chavez from Big Bear High School
Mathew Campbell from Citrus Valley High School
The overall winner of the Match Play for 2019 was Jeffrey Winkler from Beaumont High School. He was undefeated winning every single hole. He said he had a great time out on the course and has been playing golf since he was four years old. Now Winkler’s name will be added to the plaque which is home based at the San Jacinto High School and he will now be a part of golf history in San Jacinto.