Golf team members practice at Buena Vista Golf Course
By Bailey Vega
It’s been many years since Taft College last had a golf team, but this school year the athletic department is proud to offer the sport once again. There will be both men’s and women’s teams with the first season for the men’s team starting this upcoming spring semester for which they have already begun practicing. Since women’s golf is a fall sport, however, its first season as a team for Taft College will begin in the fall semester of 2017 in order to allow adequate time for team recruitment and other necessary start-up preparations which will take place this spring.
Chad Sorensen, a Class A Professional of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America), heads the men’s team and is aided by assistant coach Tony Thompson who serves as the academic advisor for athletes at Taft College. The team captain, Vance Milwee, will lead the six other members of the team: Anthony Starbuck, Blake Burrell, Brandon Pinuelas, Tanner Leikam, Garret Hay, and Ryan Roodzant.
Coach Sorensen said to get ready for their first season, projected to begin sometime this January, each of the members of the team are working hard by coming out to the BV Golf Course where they practice on their skills and focus on improving things like their 30 and 40 yard shots. The team is making an effort to make it to the course every single day, dedicating time even outside of scheduled practices. In addition to being a member of the team, Thompson says the boys are also required to take a two unit athletic education class that meets three days a week.
Golf’s return to Taft College has had a significant impact on the young men on the team, both as athletes who now have the opportunity to play the sport they are passionate about and as scholars furthering their educations. Brandon Pinuelas spoke of the importance of the sport to him and the impact it has had on his education: “I wasn’t going to come back to TC this semester, but this [motivated] me to come back to school.”
There is great anticipation for the potential the team holds and for what they will accomplish going into their initial season. “Everyone here believes we have a really good team,” Leikam said, speaking on the mutual enthusiasm amongst all of his teammates and their coaches. According to Sorensen, the team hopes to set a high standard for golf now that the program is back and aims to make the sport “a dominant force” at Taft College.