Palomar College’s men’s golf team began competing in a new conference this year, joining the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference.
According to head coach Mark Halda the new conference was a merge of the Foothill Golf Conference. Cuyamaca Community College and Palomar joined four teams from the Orange Empire Conference.
Halda said it is exciting and challenging to compete on new courses and against schools they haven’t played before.
Sophmore Cullen Clifford, 20, out of La Costa Canyon Highschool said the new conference is not as competitive compared to the conference the team was in last year.
However, Halda said Palomar is going to “make this conference stronger.”
Each match consists of six schools. Halda said College of the Desert, Cuyamaca and Palomar are the three leading schools battling out for regionals.
The first PCAC tournament was Feb. 24 in Victorville. Palomar missed second place by two shots.
“We definitely could have done better,” Cullen said. He said the team has the potential.
Palomar scored 380 as a team during the first conference match. College of the Desert scored a 358 for first place. Halda said being in the 360′s is good.
“We need to play up to our ability and we do have the ability. These guys need to get more comfortable playing tournaments,” Halda said.
The team’s two best players are freshman Kelly Cannon and Bryce Haynes according to Halda. Haynes shot a 74 in the Feb. 24 tournament.
Cannon, 22, from Escondido HIgh School has been playing golf for 20 years. Cannon said his ultimate goal is to win state and for the whole team to go. The team competes against each other to make one another better.
“Nothing like a little friendly rivalry,” Cannon said.
The team usually plays 18 holes which takes about four hours. Halda said his guys are “really good at putting the work in.”
This fall Halda will also be coaching the women’s golf team instead of his normal regime of switching to coaching football. Since he will be on the golf course year-round now the players can come out for free and play during the off-season.
Golfers can not begin practicing with coaches until a certain point before the semester begins. This year the men’s golf team was not allowed to begin official practices until Jan. 6.
Halda said he “can’t be involved with them coaching, but they can still come out and play. That is the difference with golf, it takes discipline.”