Derek Smith was used to being around volleys and overhead slams as an assistant tennis coach at Estancia High. This season though he'll be in the midst of chip shots and putts as head coach of Costa Mesa's girls' golf team.
The Mustangs are young, with one senior joining sophomores and freshmen. Smith said this season is dedicated to sending senior and varsity returner Marcie Mathieu out on a positive note. Mathieu is a four-year varsity member and made first-team All-Orange Coast League last fall, Smith said. "The goal is to make Marcie's year as good as possible," Smith said.
Even fielding a team is an accomplishment, Smith said.
"There was a fear we wouldn't have enough girls to make a team," said Smith, a special education history teacher at Mesa who enters his first year as a head golf coach.
"We had two returners on the map at the end of last year and [as of Sept. 11] we have 12 [total]," Smith said. Joining Mathieu will be sophomore returner Marne Mamola, along with sophomores Brooke Conrad, Catie Webster, Jennifer Kosakowski, Arisa Joi, Mary Raus and Lucy Fuentes. Mesa has four freshmen, including Patricia Haro, Salena Mohammed, Sidney Sparks and Brittney Chatham.
Smith helped out former coach Tom Baldwin toward the end of the girls' season in 2011 and stayed on in the spring to assist the boys' team. Baldwin retired as coach and Smith welcomed the opportunity to take the coaching reins.
"I played high school golf for three years and those were some of the best memories of my career," Smith said. "I don't come in contact with a large population of students during the day. This was an opportunity to give back to the school, not only teach bell-to-bell, but be a part of the activities."
Smith and assistant Kiran Kumar will be leading the team for a league schedule that features all four schools (Mesa, Estancia, Laguna Beach and Calvary Chapel) playing against one another at the same course on the same day. Smith said the altered schedule trimmed four matches off each team's schedule.
Costa Mesa resident Bryan Saltus will compete in the Santa Ana Star Casino New Mexico Open, a tournament for both professionals and amateurs, Tuesday through Thursday at the Santa Ana Golf Club in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M.
Saltus, a Newport Harbor High product who has won nearly $500,000 on the Asian Tour, will be one of 156 players competing in the 54-hole competition. After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the top 50 and ties.
Notah Begay III, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour and Albuquerque, N.M., native, is in the field.
BRYCE ALDERTON is the golf writer for the Daily Pilot. He may be reached at email@example.com.