SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – The Sage Hill School girls' golf team found itself in unexpected territory in more than one way heading into its Academy League showdown with host St. Margaret's on Monday.
Some of the Sage Hill girls had never played San Juan Hills Golf Club. The Lightning were also riding a two-match unbeaten streak in league and were 5-2 overall, arguably the best start in Coach Nicole Middaugh's three seasons.
Middaugh said the Lightning received a reality check as the Tartans emerged with a 235-264 victory on the front nine.
"They have to learn they can't walk on a golf course and expect to win," Middaugh said.
Hot temperatures also contributed to a difficult round, said Sage senior Angela Choi, who led the Lightning at 10-over-par 46.
"[Monday] was not one of the best days," Choi said. "It was enjoyable, but with the heat, I was dragging,"
Freshman Michelle Chen shot 49 while senior captain Kathleen Huang and sophomore Stephanie Cho each tallied 53.
Senior Allie Frost (40) led all players to pace Tartans (5-6, 3-0 in league).
At 2,765 yards, the front nine at San Juan Hills is the longest the Lightning have played thus far. Chen made par in methodical fashion on the 268-yard par-four fourth hole, which is all uphill. Her drive landed in the fairway and she eventually two-putted for par.
Cho saved a bogey on the 288-yard par-four fifth. She blasted a drive in the fairway, but found the greenside bunker with her approach shot. Her bunker shot sailed over the green, but she got up-and-down from 40 feet with a chip and putt.
The course presents some demanding doglegs, such as the 428-yard par-five sixth hole. The hole veers severely to the left from an elevated tee. Out of bounds looms along the right side.
"I wasn't sure what club to use," Cho said. "With the doglegs you have to know how far to hit or else you could go out [of play]."
Cho and Chen drove long and accurate through the first five holes, but struggled with the short game.
"The greens were ridiculously fast," Choi said. "We need to work on putting, and I saw a lot of girls with bunker shots."
Sage gets another try at St. Margaret's Oct. 10 at Strawberry Farms Golf Club in Irvine, the final regular-season match. Sage plays Saddleback Valley Christian on Wednesday.