Woodlake swings for new girls golf team

The high school introduces the first varsity girls golf team in school history

WOODLAKE – After years of having girls compete and perform well on the Woodlake boys’ varsity golf team, the time has finally arrived for the ladies to have their own program. On Monday, the newly formed Woodlake girls’ varsity golf team had their first East Sequoia League (ESL) match as they competed in a mini meet against Granite Hills, Lindsay, Strathmore and Sierra Pacific.

Their first official competition came on Sept. 2 against Delano at Valley Oaks Golf Course in Visalia, the team’s home course. They practice chip shots on campus but will also go to the driving range in Visalia in the days leading up to a match.

The Lady Tigers were supposed to be coached by Jackie Davidson, one of the school’s instructors for physical education and former girls’ soccer coach, but she is away on maternity leave. Eddie Dominguez, head coach of the boys’ varsity golf squad, has stepped in to be first coach in program history with Davidson set to take over next season.

The squad currently consists of four seniors, a junior and a freshman, including Evelyn Miranda who got the first par in program history during the team’s second match against Mission Oak on Sept. 9. They also have a few other girls that are multi-sport athletes with other fall sports such as volleyball and tennis but come out to golf when they can. With a majority of players that have never swung a golf club before, Dominguez has done a lot of teaching on the fundamentals of the game.

“It takes a while to kind of grasp the swinging, so what we’ve been working on is just a lot of foundational stuff like how the body moves without even swinging the club,” Dominguez said.

Although this is the program’s first season, the interest has been there for several years. In 2014, Dominguez welcomed the first set of girls on the varsity boys’ squad and has had various ladies on the team every season until now. Some performed well enough to make it to the league championship, so they were long overdue for their own team.

Woodlake athletic director Jose Palomo began the official process of creating a girl’s golf team two years ago by bringing the item to the Woodlake Unified School District, but internal discussions had begun in the years prior. The team was supposed to debut last year but the ongoing pandemic delayed their season.

“I think it’s very important that we are diversified in our sports offerings. We’re expecting to attract many more students out there to give the sport a try,” Paloma said.

Although there was interest in the sport before it was officially offered, the team still had to make an effort to recruit new players. According to Dominguez, the team attracted players in a unique way, asking students if they wanted to play a varsity sport that didn’t require conditioning.

“I like the fact that we’re introducing a sport that they could probably play for the rest of their lives if they wanted to. You can network yourself playing the game of golf…so that’s kind of how I sold it to them,” Dominguez said.

The team’s next competition will be another ESL mini meet at King’s Country Club in Hanford on Monday at 2 p.m.

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