Women’s golf first on leaderboard

Bethany Hopkins

Women’s golf at Santa Barbara City College may be the most successful team you’ve never seen.

The six-player team is in first place in the Women’s Southern Conference Championship, making it poised to repeat last year’s win in that league and another chance at winning the Southern California State Championship.

“Hardly anybody ever comes [to the tournaments] … we’re kind of a stealth program,” said Head Coach Chuck Melendez.

But lack of cheering crowds didn’t stop the team from a 5-0 win against the other six teams in their league at the tournament they hosted in September.

“We all practice hard,” player Victoria Alimonda said of her teammates, all of whom utilize the green of Rancho San Marcos Golf Course as their home turf.

Alimonda has been leading the league in stroke average as the medalist at three out of four recent tournaments.

“I’m very happy with the season and the team,” Alimonda said. Last year, the team took third place in the state championship. “We have a good chance to win at state this year,” said Alimonda.

“This year is the first year we’ve probably been more of a team,” added Maryanne Watson, the only returning sophomore. “With only six girls, it definitely makes it more of a tight-knit group.” Watson thinks placing well in the state championship will still be a challenge. “There’s harder competition this year,” she said.

The team’s success comes in spite of the low recruitment numbers this season. Alimonda was the only local high school student who ended up coming to play for City College.

Still, the team may have its location to thank for the quality of its players. “The Santa Barbara area draws good golfers,” said Melendez. Great golf courses and excellent weather, he pointed out, are two of the school’s best enticements to potential team members.

Melendez claims that other schools may lure away potential team members, who are often strong students as well as gifted athletes. In the last three years, the women’s golf earned the State Scholar Team Award for their academic strength. But those kinds of students are also more apt to win a scholarship at another college or university, Melendez said.

The team’s first place ranking is impressive in light of the fact that the women’s team has a line-up of only six players this year. By comparison, the City College men’s golf team has about 30 players.

“We’re not being advertised” anywhere, Alimonda said, but it wouldn’t take much to promote the team. Even just showing off the scores from their league tournaments in the newspaper would be enough to a spark a student’s interest, she thinks.