Ma makes mark at GCC

Something wasn't right with her backswing each time Vicanda Ma hit a tee or approach shot.

In need of finding a solution to her problem, the Glendale Community College women's golfer worked closely with swing coach Brad Sherfy. Ma and Sherfy turned to modern technology as a tool for examining the flaw and refining her mechanics.

"My swing had changed for a couple of weeks and we broke down the video frame by frame to see what had happened," said Ma, a freshman. "My backswing was not on line and that had caused me to hit the ground first or hook my shot.

"[Sherfy] told me not to overswing and just hit the ball straight. It worked out for the best."

With the necessary adjustments made in mid-September, things have since gone smoothly for Ma. A day after Ma and Sherfy, a former UCLA men's golf coach, fixed her swing, Ma stepped on the course rejuvenated and looking to reduce her score.

Just like that, everything came together for the Cleveland High graduate.

The 5-foot Ma fired an even-par 72 to secure medalist honors in a Western State Conference match at River Lakes Golf Course in Bakersfield on Sept. 19. Ma finished her 18-hole round with 16 pars, one birdie and one bogey and helped the Vaqueros finish first by 15 strokes. For her effort, Ma was selected the conference's player of the week.

"I've since become more comfortable with my overall game and I'm playing better than I did any time last year," said Ma, who shares the top conference scoring average of 75.75 with College of the Canyons' Kristin Grimes. "I'm satisfied with my game on certain days, but then there are other times when I feel like I can do better. So, I know I need to keep practicing."

In another conference match Oct. 10 at Tierra Rejada Golf Course in Simi Valley, Ma shot a four-over-par 78 despite the field battling a strong cross wind. She then had a six-over-par 77 on Monday in another conference match at Brookside Golf Course No. 2 in Pasadena.

No matter the weather or course conditions, it's about Ma hitting the ball straight and keeping it on the fairways. Ma might not be able to strike the ball 250 yards like some of her counterparts have been able to regularly accomplish, but Ma said she's only concerned about herself.

"I'm used to hitting the ball shorter than everybody else," Ma said. "It doesn't matter to me as long as I keep my shots in bounds.

"I've learned that it's more about accuracy than distance."

Glendale college Coach Greg Osbourne agreed.

Osbourne, who also serves as the college's men's coach and piloted the Vaqueros to the state tournament last spring for the first time in the program's history, said Ma's swing has been an asset each time she steps on to the course.

"When I saw her the first time, I saw a player who had a real good swing," said Osbourne, who also is the head pro at Chevy Chase Country Club. "She's worked hard at refining her swing to the point where she's hitting the ball straight and she's got a good putter.

"She's been the conference player of the week already. She's one of the most intense players that I've seen and she goes out there and makes things happen."

The Vaqueros didn't have enough players to field a team last season. However, Tammy Panich helped put the Vaqueros on the map when she captured the California Community College Athletic Assn. Women's Golf State Championships at Los Serranos Country Club's North Course in Chino Hills.

Panich's victory helped play a role in the program being able to recruit with other conference foes such as College of the Canyons. Glendale college was precisely what fit Ma's needs.

"When I saw the team the first time, I wasn't sure if we would have enough players," Ma said. "Then we had a lot of players and it's a team that can get to the Southern California Regionals and hopefully to state.

"When you have a full team, you enjoy it more from the practices to the matches. It's a lot like a small family."

Hannah Lee transferred from Canyons to Glendale after last season. Lee, a sophomore, said the Vaqueros have flourished with Ma on board.

"She's been a good support player," Lee said. "She helps keep the team together.

"Scoring-wise, she's usually at the top. We can count on her at least shooting in the low 80s."

All Ma would like to do the remainder of the season is stay consistent in all facets of her game. Perhaps it will come a bit more easier with each match.

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