Keeping GCC on course

Playing on his home course of fabled Oakmont Country Club, Brennan Amirkhizi realized that golf isn't a perfect game.

With that in mind, Amirkhizi needed to keep his emotions in check while tackling the nuances of the renovated course during a Western State Conference match April 18. In the span of a few hours, Amirkhizi's frustration turned into elation.

Amirkhizi, a member of the Glendale Community College men's golf team, stepped to the first tee and struck the ball out of bounds for a two-stroke penalty. For a while, the breaks weren't going Amirkhizi's way.

That changed in a hurry for Amirkhizi, who carded a four-under-par 71 to earn medalist honors and help the Vaqueros win the match by three strokes over traditional state powerhouse College of the Canyons.

"The crowd was so silent that I could practically hear the grass growing," said Amirkhizi, a sophomore. "I had two options after that shot: I could have folded or I could have kept going.

"I've experienced bad shots like that before, but those experiences can help you get back into it. I realized I still had 17 holes left. It would be a large thought process."

Amirkhizi shot a five-under-par 31 on the front nine. He finished his 18-hole round with eight birdies, six pars and four bogeys.

Talk about making a smooth recovery.

"Golf isn't a perfect game," said Amirkhizi, who guided the Vaqueros to a second-place finish in conference and a trip to the Southern California Regionals, which will be held Monday at Bermuda Dunes Country Club. "I just grabbed another ball and teed off.

"I stuck to my game plan that I outlined for each hole. Everything just seemed to click from that point on."

At the conference finals at Los Serranos Country Club's South Course in Chino Hills on April 25, Amirkhizi, a Taft High graduate, finished with a two-round score of 148 to finish sixth and achieve all-conference accolades for the second season.

Even Glendale college Coach Greg Osbourne noticed a difference in Amirkhizi's mindset.

"When I met him when he was at Taft, he was so emotional," said Osbourne, who also coaches the college's women's team and is a PGA pro and the head pro at Chevy Chase Country Club in Glendale. "It's about his state of maturity right now.

"When he hit that ball out of bounds at Oakmont, he bounced back. He didn't sulk. He didn't blow up, so that's a good sign."

There have been plenty of good signs throughout the season for the Vaqueros, who will make their inaugural trip to the regionals since the program was reinstated in 2008 after being dismantled in 1985 because of budget cuts.

With the exception of Amirkhizi, who competed as an individual at the regionals last season at the SCGA Course in Murrieta, the remainder of the Glendale college roster consists of freshmen.

Osbourne hit the recruiting trail trying to find the right mix of players who could compliment Amirkhizi. Osbourne brought in talent from La Crescenta to the San Fernando Valley in order to make the Vaqueros a viable contender for the conference championship — and perhaps something bigger.

"We want to make this program one of the best that's around," Osbourne said. "We already knew we had something going with Brennan, but we wanted to find the supporting players who could listen to him and learn.

"We now have a good group. They showed they could do well and we were the only team to beat College of the Canyons."

Michael Timpson, who won the conference tournament with a two-round score of 142, said Amirkhizi has helped him tailor his game.

"He's had an impact on a lot of the players," said Timpson, a Crescenta Valley High graduate who is a reigning All-Area pick. "You can learn so much from him.

"He helped me with my putting when I was struggling earlier in the season. If you ask, he'll help you out. He's been through it."

Amirkhizi said he had no trouble working with the new cast of players who arrived at Glendale college.

Amirkhizi wanted the program to reach new heights, which it's accomplished.

"Most of the guys on the team I knew from when we played in high school tournaments," Amirkhizi said. "I think that helped me adapt to them right away when they came to GCC.

"Coach Osbourne kept us together. It's fun practicing and then going out there playing."

A quality 36-hole round might put the Vaqueros in the state tournament in Fresno. Amirkhizi would love to be a part of that, but there's still work that needs to get done Monday.

"The team and I have to go out there and keep on doing what we've been doing these last few weeks," Amirkhizi said. "We've been good throughout the season in most of our matches and we know that we can take it up another level."

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