HS golfers compete in unique match play tournament

Golden Era Golf Course hosts young golfers from around Riverside County

Courtesy Golden Era Productions
Golfers checking the match play tournament roster at Golden Era Golf Course.

■ Golden Era Productions

The excitement was high when the 10 a.m. start time was called last week by San Jacinto High School Golf Coach George to kick off the beginning of the annual San Jacinto High School Match Play Tournament, the only high school match play tournament around.
Ten years ago, Coach Simpson had the idea to have a match play tournament for high school golfers. “The PGA had match plays, so why not a high school match play?” he reasoned.
So Simpson came to the Golden Era Golf Course, the high school’s home course, and a course that is offered free of charge to nonprofits, schools, and churches, and the high school match play was born. It started small with just a few schools sending golfers, but each year it has grown to where there are student golfers competing from 17 different high schools throughout Riverside and surrounding counties running three full days.
Last year, Coach Simpson was promoted to the dean at San Jacinto High School and he turned over the reins for the Match Play Tournament to Coach George, who now has the mind boggling task of keeping track of all the golfers and keeping the match play moving.

Courtesy Golden Era Productions
SJ High Coach (now Dean) Simpson, founder of the regional high school match play tournament.

“I love this. It is the best thing going because it’s different and the kids get to play a ton of golf” said the Beaumont High School golf coach. The golf coach at Serrano High School in Victorville agreed and added, “With stroke play, if you get down, you have a hard time making it up afterward, but this is one hole at a time.”
“This is a fun change of pace. It is the only match play for the high schools I know of; it gives the students a different tournament where it is not your overall score, but it’s whoever wins the holes” was what the golf coach from Apple Valley High School said.
“Our team has been coming for five years. Notre Dame told us about it and we got to know Simpson and have been coming ever since. Then we told Cajon, and it has spread and keeps on spreading to more schools,” said the Citrus Hills golf coach.
The assistant golf coach from San Jacinto High School, Coach Powell, said, “This was Coach Simpson’s baby 10 years ago. I remember Simpson saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun for the kids to have a match play tournament? And now, look at what it has blossomed into 10 years later!”
And the excitement continues for three full days when a winner of the overall Match Play Tournament will step up to receive the coveted award for being “number one.”
Look for the name of the winner in next week’s Valley Chronicle.

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