With the basketball season winding down and the warmer weather upon us, it’s once again time for the high school boys’ golf season to showcase its talents.
In January Curtis Robinson was named Mater Dei’s new golf coach, and despite it being his first season at the helm, Robinson has set the bar high for the Monarchs.
He wasn’t shy about establishing lofty aspirations for the team this season.
“We want to win the Trinity League first and then we want to win a state championship,” says Robinson, who noted that he expects Servite to be one of his team’s top opponents this season. “At every practice we talk about striving for a state championship.”
Robinson, who replaced Derek Uyesaka, will also serve as the girls’ coach next fall. He is excited about his new coaching challenge.
Robinson, 44, brings an abundance of experience to the program. Robinson, an Irvine resident, has been a golf teaching professional for the past 17 years. He is the club pro at Irvine’s Rancho San Joaquin Golf Club.
“I’m so excited to get started with the team,” he says. “The administration has been so helpful getting me up to speed.”
Robinson was impressed with his initial assessment of the team.
“I am spoiled with talent,” Robinson says. “I think my biggest hurdle is going to be setting the lineup for each match. We have so much talent. I feel blessed to be able to share my golf experiences with these high school players.”
Robinson says the varsity squad is made up of nine golfers (Isaiah Aguirre, Braxton Andry, Sahil Bhagat, Robert Campean, Robert Drobka, Chandler Fanticola, Jack LeBeau, Bill Rosenthal and Issei Tanabe).
“Each of these young men are outstanding golfers and I feel that Issei Tanabe is a name you’re going to have to pay close attention to,” Robinson says. “He is going to be a standout, but honestly each of the guys will do well for us.”
Robinson, an excellent athlete and a scratch golfer himself, graduated from Pomona High School and played quarterback at Chapman University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.
“I picked up playing golf later in life,” says Robinson. “I didn’t start playing until I was almost out of college. My girlfriend, Juliet, who is now my wife, introduced me to the game and, thinking that I was a good athlete, I figured I would pick it up easy but I found out that it drove me crazy that I couldn’t hit a little white ball with consistency.
“It became an obsession with me to get better, so I practiced and studied it until I improved into a good golfer.”
Robinson noted that he’ll make academics the student athletes’ first priority, but golf will be a close second.
“We emphasize how important it is for the kids to go to college and earn a degree,” Robinson says. “An education is something that can never be taken away from them and we pride ourselves that our athletes are also excellent students.”
The Monarchs will play their home matches at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley and Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course in Irvine this season.
Robinson named Colin Montgomery, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Nick Faldo are his favorite golfers and sited Spyglass and Pebble Beach as two of his favorite courses. Robinson’s dream is to have an opportunity to play at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. “It’s the ultimate course where I would love to play,” he says.
Mater Dei has transformed a portion of its campus into a golfing practice facility, complete with putting greens, bunkers and hitting bays. Robinson plans to use a ‘flight scope’ mechanism tool to help analyze his players’ skills such as swing, speed, spin and curve of the ball and projected distances.
“We’ll practice at David L. Baker Golf Course in Fountain Valley and I’m really happy that we’ll be able to train right on campus, so it will keep the students closely associated with the school,” says Robinson.
The Monarchs finished second among 16 teams to kick off the season at the Servite Invitational in February and begin Trinity League play on March 17 against Orange Lutheran.
Following the boys’ season, Robinson will immediately focus his attention get to the girls’ golf team. He plans to dedicate a great deal of time over the summer training and preparing the Monarchs for their fall season.
Robinson and his wife’s two children attend Mater Dei and are already making waves in their respective sports. Curtis Jr. has been an outstanding outside linebacker on the Monarchs football team for four years and accepted a scholarship to play at Stanford next season, while Ciera, a sophomore, is in her second year as a long jumper and a triple jumper on the Mater Dei Track Team.