Golf Season Outlook: On the move
The Nevada Union golf team has moved from the Division I Metro Conference last year to the Division II Sierra Foothill League this year.
Just because the Miners dropped a division doesn’t mean the competition gets any easier.
“This is definitely a different game,” Nevada Union coach Hank Davidson said. “Most of the coaches think ” and I agree ” that this is the toughest league in the Sacramento area. Five of the top 10 teams in the area come out of our league.”
However, a format difference between leagues has lifted a cloud that hung over the team for most of last season.
As members of the Metro Conference last year, there were four different 18-hole league tournaments. The cumulative scores from those four meets were added up at the end, and the two best teams earned spots in the postseason. Those two teams last year were Yuba City and Granite Bay.
“The format this year is excellent,” Davidson said. “We’ve been competing from day one. This time last year, our season was over.”
Davidson said the Miners struggled in the first 18-hole tournament last year and knew they didn’t have much of a chance to catch powerhouses Yuba City and Granite Bay.
This year, there are 12 different matches against SFL teams, all of which are 9-hole matchs worth one point each. In addition, there will be two 18-hole tournaments including all seven conference teams. Placements in those tournaments are scored seven for first, six for second, etc.
Davidson said the 18-hole tournaments are still important this year, but even if the team struggles in one of those, there’s still a decent chance at earning one of the three available spots out of the SFL.
This year the Miners are led by senior D.J. Milligan as well as seniors Gavin Butcher and John Hyland. Davidson said that group will be key to a playoff run, and he said if there’s a group that can do it, they’re it.
“Our seniors want to get to the playoffs so bad they can taste it,” Davidson said. “They’re hungry. They know we’re going to have to do it on our home course and we’re going to have to take it to them on their courses.”
Milligan so far this season has shot the best for the Miners. In a couple weeks, he’s expecting to sign his letter of intent to play golf for California State, Monterey Bay.
“I heard he quit Little League when he was 12 and I heard that he was quite good,” Davidson said. “But he wants to play golf for a living. It’s impressive how well he’s picked up the game.”
Milligan said it may be the effort the team put in outside of practices that may be the key to success this year.
“We’ve set lofty goals and we’ve worked hard outside team practice to accomplish those goals,” Milligan said. “This team would really like to get to state.”
Milligan saw his way paved a few years ago when he was a sophomore and the No. 2 golfer on the team behind Erik Flores, who now plays for UCLA.
“He really showed what it takes to compete,” Milligan said. “Most of all, he showed us the motivation it takes to be successful. But it’s nice to mentioned and compared with him.”
Nevada Union is currently 2-1 in league tournaments. Granite Bay is undefeated and Rocklin, like NU, has just one loss.
Today’s match against Rocklin at Alta Sierra is a big one for the Miners as they try to take over second place by themselves.
To contact Sports Writer Ross Maak, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4244.
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