Since winning last year’s Solano County Athletic Conference title, things haven’t been too sweet for the American Canyon High girls golf team won with M & M graduating and Kandy having knee surgery.
But eighth-year head coach Jim Saylor expected sophomore Kandy Miller to return this week to join his three other returning special K’s – sophomore Katie Robinson, junior Kaitlin Dang and senior Keinah Baron – for a shot at the title in the new Vine Valley Athletic League.
Robinson, who shot as low as 34 as a freshman, not only ruled the SCAC in its last year of existence but advanced to the Masters Tournament. She continued to sharpen her game by playing in Junior Golf Association of Northern California tournaments over the summer, shooting in the high 70s and low 80s for 18 holes.
She has continued to lead the Wolves in every match this season.
“Katie likes the team camaraderie,” Saylor said.
But with their newcomers shooting mostly in the 70s and 80s for nine holes, they were only 1-2 in the VVAL going into Wednesday’s road match against Vintage at Silverado Resort and Spa.
Rounding out the team are freshman Megan Galiotti, sophomore Juliana Petersen and senior Paola Alfaro, who took last season off after playing as a sophomore.
“Paola and Juliana have good swings,” Saylor said. “They’re just not getting (the club face on) the ball all the time.”
Saylor is having them work on what he calls “The Drill,” which he incorporated in his first season at American Canyon.
“I had a girl whose swing was awful,” he recalled, “but when she warmed up she did a beautiful thing and I told ‘swing like that.’ She would hold her club out chest-high, the toe of the club up, rotate it to the right along with her hips and shoulders, go back to her original position, and then rotate it left until the club face was down.
“I thought I would teach that because you’ve got the entire body working together. In the old days, you were taught to keep your left arm straight and swing through your shoulders, and the last thing you did was rotate your hips. Now you can do it all in this one drill. (Professional golfer) Peter Jacobsen was doing it for a while.”
The Wolves lost their VVAL opener on Aug. 28 to Napa High at Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park. Not only was the course tough to play that day, but Baron was out sick.
“It was extremely windy and extremely wet, so there was no roll and it played longer than usual,” Saylor said. “I played Kennedy for 36 years and I would have had trouble that day. Having Keinah would have made a big difference. She has been hitting the ball really, really well and swinging well.”
He said Miller has been recovering from anterior cruciate ligament surgery.
“Her doctor didn’t want her to play, to stay off it a year, but her dad has videos of her swinging a golf club,” Saylor said. “I don’t see any damage at all, so her operation in the late summer was a huge success. She’s been hitting it over 200 yards. (Recently) she was out playing with her dad and shot 47. Once we get her back, we should be in position to be one of two best teams in the league, or best team in the league.”