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MCS golf begins with bang

Youth Scene

New golf team starts strong with win in season opener. Dolphins have 11 on team and eight on practice squad.

April 10, 2012|By Bruce Bourquin, Special to the Daily Pilot
  • Mariners Christian eighth-grade golfers, from left, Garrett Wayne, Enzo Burton and Connor Bass practice on the putting green at Newport Beach Golf Course Friday
Mariners Christian eighth-grade golfers, from left,… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

They can tap curving putts like big-time players, hit tee shots more than 230 feet and some have already played competitive golf for one or two years.

They are seventh and eighth-grade students who play for the Mariners Christian School boys' and girls' golf team. The school located in Costa Mesa is fielding its golf team for its first season.

Head coach Brian Jones, in his first year coaching golf at any level, has played for 22 years, never competitively. A fifth-grade teacher, he has coached basketball and football at the youth levels before.

"The program started from a vision between [Head of School] Bob Sladek and Kevin Martin, a parent and school board member," Jones said Friday at the Newport Beach Golf Course putting green. "Bob wanted to have us field a team since he started working with us. This is his second year."

Mariners Christian School already won its season opener, defeating Mission Hills Christian School of Rancho Santa Margarita in February, 141-171. No. 1 golfer Sean Willson, a 14-year-old eighth-grader, finished with a four-over-par score of 33 over nine holes. Connor Bass, 13-year-old eighth-grader Garrett Wayne and Richie Simons each shot a 36. Many of the players on the team have grown up together.

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The Dolphins are playing three private school teams twice each this season. Those teams are Oakridge Private School of Orange, Calvary Christian School of Santa Ana and Mission Hills.

Mariners Christian School, which has students from kindergarten through eighth grade, has 680 students enrolled and 150 of those are in the seventh or eighth grade.

"There are very few middle school golf teams in Orange County," Jones said. "We had 22 kids who tried out. We were surprised at how many kids showed up. Eleven made the team, another eight made the practice squad. We want to spark interests from other schools [that don't have golf teams yet]. Some have played in individual tournaments, most played for fun."

Most of the students at Mariners Christian School usually go on to attend high school at Corona del Mar, Newport Harbor, Mater Dei in Santa Ana and Crean Lutheran in Irvine.

"The best part about playing on a middle school is preparing for a high school team," Bass said. "You get to meet different players while you're playing. The most challenging part is to keep my mind on my game, instead of worrying about theirs."

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