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  By JIM McCUE | Contributor   Golf is a rare sport where young players can not have a favorite team to root for...


By JIM McCUE | Contributor


Golf is a rare sport where young players can not have a favorite team to root for while growing up. As kids often choose a preferred group of players to cheer for on the football field, baseball diamond, or basketball court, young golfers have only individuals to follow and root for on the professional tours. 

Aside from the occasional Ryder Cup format which pits golfers from the same country or continent against others, the sport of golf is an individual endeavor from the highest level down to junior tournaments.

The paradox of team golf creates a challenge for talented players as they make their way through high school and college as the best kids on the course are trained to strive to better their games for their own advancement.

Which brings Oak Ridge High first-year boys golf Stan Iverson to a dilemma “” a good dilemma.

Iverson faces the challenge of forming individual talents into a team capable of competing at the highest levels of golf in Northern California. Adding to the challenge for Iverson and his team is the relative youth of his talent.

“We are trying to instill the team concept and develop a camaraderie and team spirit,” Iverson said of taking the program over for longtime coach Carl Massey, who retired after teaching and coaching in the El Dorado County School System for 37 years, including at Oak Ridge since it first opened in 1980. “It’s definitely been a challenge because the kids are used to focusing on themselves on the course. It’s a matter of trying to get them to work together and be supportive of one another, but I think we can get there with hard work and discipline.”

The challenge is not exclusive to Iverson and fellow coach Jeffrey Thomas, though. All of the 20 players in the Oak Ridge program “” between varsity and junior varsity squads “” are accustomed to focusing on individual improvement with swing coaches and other golf mentors to succeed in junior tournaments that can help write their ticket to a college scholarship more than the league record posted by their high school team.

“There is definitely an adjustment for players in high school golf,” said Reid Edlund in his fourth year with the Trojans. “In team golf, you can’t always go for everything. You sometimes have to be less aggressive because a bad hole hurts the whole team, not just you.”

Edlund and Curtis McKenzie are the lone seniors on a young Oak Ridge team that narrowly missed qualifying for the CIF/Northern California Golf Association championships last year. The pair assumed a leadership role as the elder statesmen on a team with a new coach. 

“We (the seniors) know how everything works, so we can keep guys in line,” Edlund said. “In past years, the players were more autonomous, which worked well when we had an older, more mature team. It has been tougher with a young team last year and this year, so we are trying to take on an “˜enforcer’ role.”

Younger players such as sophomore Josh Keplinger and freshman Quinn Carlsen aren’t intimidated by the team’s friendly enforcers, and the entire team has been working on forming a closer bond both on and off the golf course.

“Everyone gets along for the most part,” Carlsen said. “Knowing each other off the course makes it easier to stay loose on the golf course, which is important.”

Carlsen, a smooth lefty with huge potential, acts and plays beyond his freshman status. In a recent Delta River League match against Ponderosa, he shot a team-low 38 in a close 204-206 victory.

“He is very serious about his game and is very talented,” Iverson said of his freshman. “He is excellent around the greens and his chipping is one of the strongest parts of his game.”

Iverson likes to pair Carlsen with Edlund as they complement each other in demeanor “” Edlund’s relaxed presence balances his younger teammate’s intensity. 

Keplinger has been Oak Ridge’s most consistent golfer this season, typically posting the low score among the Trojans’ talented core group. The sophomore finished his freshman season strongly with a 77 at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament and has picked up where he left off.

“Josh hits it long and is playing more consistently and smarter this year,” Thomas said. “This year, he is not putting up any big numbers.”

Iverson hopes that the continuing development of his team will lower the group’s numbers to be competitive in league matches and the section tournament. The Delta River League pits Oak Ridge against perennial SJS power Jesuit, which the Trojans believe will better prepare them for the postseason and the future.

“These guys are young, but they have the skills and abilities to be successful as a team,” Iverson said. “We need to fine tune a few things and continue to get to know each other better. If the whole team can think of the team as a whole before themselves, I think that we can be very competitive in the next few years.”


Del Oro-Loomis
The Golden Eagles captured the SJS Masters team title in 2011. Senior Austin Smotherman returns to anchor a team with its sights set on a state tournament berth. Senior Canyon Rowe and junior Justin Raskin both contributed to Del Oro’s 2011 run and are expected to contribute to the perennial Sierra Foothill League power.

Christian Brothers
Returners Dylan Fuller, Kit Carson, Andrej Bevins, and Hunter Rappleye hope to erase the painful sting of missing out on a NorCal tournament berth last year by a tiebreaker to Davis. 

Granite Bay
Alex Gibbs, Chuck Pedone, and Brandon Baumgarten return from last year’s NorCal qualifying team and will press Smotherman and Del Oro all season long in the Sierra Foothill League. 

The Marauders have split the first two Delta River League matches with Oak Ridge and expect to battle the Trojans for league, divisional, and section superiority. Seniors Benjamin Corfee and Patrick Cairns and junior Stephen Griggs lead of group of returning players from last year’s NorCal qualifier. 

The Blue Devils may have the deepest roster in the section. Masters tournament runner-up, Davis lost three players to graduation, but return veterans Chase Dossa and Charlie Klein as well as freshman standout Preston Walchli.


Here are five individual standouts expected to be major factors during the golf postseason tournaments.

Austin Smotherman, Del Oro, Sr,
The SMU-bound senior is probably the section’s best shot to winning a NorCal and/or state title after finishing fourth at both tournaments as a junior. Smotherman carded a 1-under 71 at Poppy Hills in the state final and followed that up with a victory in the California Junior Amateur Championship in August. 

Alex Gibbs, Senior, Granite Bay
Gibbs recorded a top-15 finish at the NorCal Tournament as a junior and has committed to play at Sacramento State next year. A two-time all-Sierra Foothill League player, Gibbs has been on Granite Bay’s varsity team since his freshman season.

Hunter Rappleye, Junior, Christian Brothers
The Falcons’ junior star placed third in the Sacramento City Junior Championship at Haggin Oaks over the summer, carding an 8-under 136 to finish just two strokes behind Smotherman. Rappleye shot a team-best 75 at the Section Masters Tournament as a sophomore.

Chase Dossa, Junior, Davis
Dossa is entering his third varsity season after carding a 5-over at the NorCal Tournament in 2011. An aggressive hitter, Dossa is especially dangerous on par-5s, but the key to his season will be if he can continue to improve his consistency in the short game.

Corey Pereira, Junior, Ponderosa
Pereira fired a 73 to finish in a tie for fourth at the 2011 Masters tournament, which earned him an individual NorCal qualification as a sophomore. His 5-over score at the NorCal final was a slight drop-off, but he has been performing very well on the Future Collegians World Tour (FCWT) junior tour circuit.




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