It’s High School Season Everywhere!

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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I have shared that coaching high school players is a unique and worthwhile experience. Having now over 22 years of coaching, I have seen quite a few unusual circumstances. 

Most learning high school players will be very visible on the golf course. They normally will be the ones who are in baggy pants and oversized shirts for the guys and tight and fitting clothing for the girls. The one common trait they will have is never being prepared for cold or inclement weather.  

We played an early spring tournament that had perfect weather when we teed off, calm and temperatures in the mid 60’s. Two hours later it was a blizzard and low thirties. Of all the players I saw that day, about 100 of them, 5 had some type of jacket with them. Needless to say, my team of 5 boys and 5 girls all looked like popsicles on Sunday night. Cold and covered with frost!  When the tournament was called off the bus looked like a warm haven. 

Rules of golf are a somewhat grey area that includes black holes and sub-atomic particles. We believe we know they exist but must undergo calculations and experiment to prove the existence of them. I have some simple rules for my beginners. Start behind the tee markers (I tell them which color) and don’t touch the ball until you have holed out. Don’t worry about marking a ball, as 95% of them do not have a coin. This is due to the fact that, either the pockets are way too low to find a coin or the shorts they wear do not have pockets. They will never worry about walking in the line of a putt, as most are only concerned about someone standing directly in their line of play. 

Healthy snacks for them are comprised of sugar on sugar and water is only consumed every other week. Apples and bananas are looked at but never touched, and potato chips and Twinkies are cherished. 

I love high school golfers, especially the beginners as they will exemplify the true spirit of a game. They are happy when someone makes a putt, they are elated when a ball is found and even euphoric when a ball is found they can keep. Golf tees that an experienced player would never use, these kids love. The hula girl tees for guys and metal tees are way cool…you can tell by the pit marks in the driver. They will tell you about the great 7 they made and express no regrets over double digits on a hole. They will never ask each other what did you shoot? They will ask what did you do? 

My last tournament I saw a young lady with a pull cart walking across the putting green. I went over to her and explained that pull carts should go around the greens not over them. The little lady (most likely a freshman or 8th grader) looked at me and said, “It’s okay coach, this is a push cart”. I could only blink, smile and nod, and drive away to the next experience. I guess I could have told her to turn it around but was not that quick witted after being hit with a mental 2 x 4 across the head.  

If you want a great experience, volunteer for some of the junior varsity tournaments, bring a hat, sunscreen and water. Bring healthy snacks and a jacket, just in case. I promise you the kids will have none of the above, and watching them hit a shot after applying sunscreen they borrowed from you will be worth the price of admission. They do not have towels, either. 

Look for me at these tournaments, I will be the one with the ‘deer in the headlights look’ mumbling to himself. 

Tom Velarde is a Golf Professional at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email