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Golfers Battle Their Teammates for Position

April 13, 1999|PETER YOON

It might be a practice round for the Trabuco Hills High golf team, but this is far from a friendly foursome at the local muni.

Nobody will be conceding any putts during this round and those looking for mulligans need not tee up.

Though only a practice round, the stakes this day are high and the competition between teammates is fierce. Yes, it is a practice round, but the scores most definitely count.

They battle for different honors. Some, such as freshman Garrett Mulleady, are looking to crack the starting six. Others, such as junior Mike Reid, already have solidified spots in the staring lineup. Reid wants to hold on to the team No. 1 honor.

Practice is when they must prove themselves.

"It's not like practice in other sports," Trabuco Hills Coach Gary Sabella said. "If they miss a three-foot putt, they might be out of the next match."

Mulleady knows. He has been in and out of the lineup several times this season and has come to Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club looking to get back in. He has to beat some of his teammates to do it, but said that doesn't bother him.

"That's the way golf is," Mulleady said. "We're used to competing against each other."

From a coaching standpoint, there are certain advantages to having the starting lineup spelled out in practice-round results.

"The statistics give you the lineup," Sabella said. "It takes out any favoritism you might see in other sports. Also, it helps when the parents call and ask why their son isn't playing. The lineup is decided on the averages."

It also helps keep up the morale of the players who do not start.

"They know they're not relegated to the bench," Sabella said.

Though the staple of a typical golf practice, the practice round is not the only means of preparing players for matches.

At Esperanza, Coach Al Safallo will bring his team into a classroom to show videos on the rules of the game or have professional players come in to talk about the mental aspect of playing.

Trips to the local driving range or practice greens are also employed by most teams during the season, but even simple fundamental drills have stakes.

Safallo has devised a point system for made putts, chipping close and hitting targets at the range. Those points are used in figuring the starting lineup.

"We always try and have them in some kind of pressure situation," Safallo said.

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