Ron Agostini

Kickoff clinic starts boys’ prep golf season

They rotated from the sand bunker to the practice green to the hitting area, learning as they went.

Eight high school boys teams no doubt benefited from the Kickoff High School Clinic, an event last month at McHenry Golf Center. Ken Miller, McHenry owner, hopes the clinic raises awareness of all the options available to teen golfers.

“We see so many high school kids who don’t know how to practice properly or don’t know how to take part in junior golf,” Miller said. “Some of them don’t realize what is out there for them.”

They came to the right place at McHenry, its leadership also helps to run the Junior Golf Association of Northern California, which annually sanctions more than 90 junior tournaments.

Miller and McHenry instructor Dana Arnold-Ebster serve as board members of the JGANC. Shane Balfour, the executive director of the JGANC, also gives lessons at the local practice venue. Other local JGANC board members include Jim Toal, Steve Bonner, Tom Slater and Jane Smith.

Miller invited teams from Grace Davis, Gregori, Big Valley Christian, Modesto Christian, Oakdale, Ripon, East Union and Turlock to the inaugural clinic. They received special instruction from JGANC stars Justin Suh of San Jose’s Evergreen Valley High and Josh McCarthy of Concord’s De La Salle. Suh is bound for USC. McCarthy, a junior, has committed to Pepperdine.

“Suh might have been the best junior we’ve ever had,” Miller said. “Both he and McCarthy were great that day.”

The seminar will become an annual event, Miller said, and a girls clinic will be held later this year.

The Shag Bag – Matthew Robinson, one of the returners from the Central Catholic team that placed sixth in California last spring, is off to a fast start. He overcame cool and breezy conditions to shoot a 1-under-par 71, featuring an eagle, for medalist honors at Monday’s third annual Preview Invitational, the 19-team high school season-opening event on Del Rio Country Club’s Bluff and Oak nines. The junior led the Raiders’ “Blue” team to a third-place finish with its 389-stroke total, nine swings behind winner Granite Bay and five behind runner-up Foothill. The tournament, run by Central Catholic and Del Rio, has increased in turnout from 11 teams in 2013 to 12 last year to 19. “We identified the top teams from all the divisions of the (Sac-Joaquin) Section and the results from the Masters and NorCal,” CC coach Dave Quintal said. “From that list we sent out our invitations. It’s a great way to start the season. We’re getting the big dogs.” ...

San Jose State senior Kathleen Rojas, a former Turlock Christian star, made a solid contribution for the host Spartans’ victory at the Juli Inkster Invitational last month. Rojas shot a final-round 72 as the Spartans overtook Fresno State for the title of the 10-team tournament. She tied for 29th individually (86-78-72 – 236) at Almaden CC ... Coming up: A demo day Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at McHenry. ...

Holes-in-one – Mark Nicholson, Oakdale, 161-yard 12th at Oakdale CC, 7-iron ... Kim Alton, Oakdale, 90-yard sixth at Oakdale, 9-iron.

Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeSports.

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