“A West Side High School golf team was only a thought in 2020,” said Coach Ronald Mumford. “All that was needed were players, a coach, a place to play, and a supportive administration and community. It all happened.”
The ‘20-’21 school year is the first time West Side has fielded a golf team since 2009 which was coached by Stan Cahoon, and did not qualify for post season play.
Ten West Side students participated: Jackson Beckstead, Max Mumford, Tanner Nance, Fielding Mumford, Jacob Stokes, Sopheea Graves, McKay Mumford, Parker Henderson, Grant Clawson, and Drake Buttars.
Three or four of those had previous golf instruction from John Van Vleet. “That coaching was very helpful,” said Mumford. “The rest of our players either borrowed or begged clubs this year; or maybe had golfed a few times through the years with family or friends.”
“The team’s mantra was one of unity,” Mumford said. “If one makes it, we all make it.”
In addition to Coach Mumford, the team was supported by Bob Wright and Van Vleet.
“A true friend, Bob Wright gave freely of his time and skills,” Mumford said, “teaching them fundamentals. John Van Vleet helped as time and facilities permitted.”
The first year team did better than expected. They were given an opportunity and they made the most of it.
“As a surprise to all, including themselves, they qualified for state by placing second at their 2A District Tournament with one of them having his personal best score, and another one also qualifying as an individual,” Mumford said.
Though they fell short of any titles at state, the experience of going was invaluable.
“Circling Raven is a challenging course — long holes, and MANY deep sand traps,” Mumford said. “I had not prepared the team for those sand traps, and it cost us in higher scores. In a field of 75 boys we had a golfer at 27th and another at 50th. But everybody respected everyone else. That’s one lesson that golf teaches — everyone is battling the course and him or herself. All are in that same battle together. “
“In fairness, some golfers we faced were from charter schools who can and do recruit. Some have no jobs. Some may have let grades suffer. Many devote themselves to golf or multi-hour practice sessions almost every day — summer and winter. Overall, I was so proud of all our team and the support of our JV who cheered them on — but honestly, we had not given the effort and resources that some had given.”
“I believe there is immeasurable good that comes from these kinds of activities — and it comes in different ways to different people. We didn’t do as well as we had hoped, but there was sure a lot of good along the way.”
Previously, students who were interested in the sport were welcomed by PGA Pro John Van Vleet and the Preston team.
“PHS and John VanVleet were very good to any WS students who wanted to golf,” said Coach Mumford. “John would coach them as best his time would allow, but to compete at the District Tournament and State tournament- Preston could only send five varsity golfers. And I am not aware of any WS player with scores to qualify for Preston’s varsity team.”
A West Side team allowed players the opportunity not only to have varsity and JV meet experience through the season but to compete in their district for a place at state either as individuals or as a team if they qualify.